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How to Track Your Time

Sonia was a web designer who worked from home. She found herself in a funk and didn’t feel she was as productive as she could be. At a friend’s urging, Sonia began using a time tracker. She was amazed to see how much time she was filling with minor tasks (like checking Facebook on her phone and surfing Pinterest).

If you haven’t done it before, you should try tracking your time, too. The results can be surprising and like Sonia, you may discover you could be far more productive.

Take 14 Days…

Think of time tracking like a budget. Your hours are your cash. By tracking them you can see where your money (in this case your time) is really going. Then you can make adjustments to your schedule depending on what you learn. You might discover that all your procrastination activities take place in the afternoon after lunch. When you know this, you can do something about it.

Plan to spend at least 14 days tracking your time. If you only track your time for a day or two, you’re not going to get a complete picture of what your habits and routines truly look and feel like. This can lead you to under-estimate the time you need to do certain tasks (like finish a big project).

Do Quick Check-Ins

Tracking your time doesn’t have to be all-consuming. Instead, you can check-in with yourself 3-4 times a day to make a note of what you’ve been doing. A good idea is to plan to check-in after every meal. This gives you a chance to think about what you’ve done and what you plan to do in the coming hours.

Record everything no matter what. You wouldn’t splurge on a huge purchase then not budget it. This could lead to financial errors and other problems. It’s the same concept with your time. Acknowledge how you’ve spent it, even if you’re not proud of it. This isn’t an exercise in shame, but knowing fully where your time is going.

Use a Physical Notebook For Your Own Time

There are dozens of time trackers online. These can be useful when you have to track time for client projects. But it’s not so great when you’re tracking your personal time. If you go to record your time and find yourself distracted by social media or emails, you could definitely benefit from using a physical notebook instead.

Make time Tracking Fun

When Sonia started time tracking, she asked her friend to join her. Together they both began tracking their time. But instead of sharing their logs, they’d take selfies and send them to each other every hour.

It made the experience more enjoyable and kept both of them focused on being productive. You can do the same thing—send a quick selfie to a private Instagram account every hour for a visual record of how you’ve spent your time. You’ll find this strategy is also good marketing – you’re showing your range of skills and abilities.

Look over Your Log

After you’re done with tracking your time, plan to have a review session the next day. Look over your logs and make notes about what you’d like to change first. Do you want to spend more time playing with your daughter? Would you prefer to cut out Facebook and use that hour to work on eating healthier meals? It’s up to you to decide how you will use the additional time in your day.

Time tracking can be a great way to see where you’re spending your time well and where you can make some improvements. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself becoming more intentional with how you spend your hours and that your business thrives because of it.

Sarah Arrow

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