Recently I was interviewed about the subject of time tracking and how to get it all done. Even though the interview was extremely brief – only three questions – I thought that folks with time management challenges could benefit from our brief discussion.
1) In a work setting, how beneficial can time logging/time tracking be in order to get it all done?
It’s extremely beneficial. When you know you have to log your time for an employer, you tend to use your time more efficiently so that you’ll have “something good” to document. For entrepreneurs who are their own bosses, time logging can help you discover where your time slips away – what I call “time leaks.” When you pay attention to where your time is going, you discover how much time you lose to procrastination, distractions, interruptions, going off on tangents, and so on. These can add up to hours of lost time each day. The good news is that once you realize why and how you’re participating in those behaviors, you can then plug those time leaks and regain time. Logging your time also helps you learn how long you actually take to complete various tasks. This information better helps you plan for future projects so that you don’t overschedule yourself.
2) Why do you think that some companies have been reluctant to introduce time logging/time tracking, and do you think this reluctance is changing?
It takes time and financial resources to research which tracking method will be best for the company, to develop policies for how the tracking will be completed, and then decide how that information will be used. Many companies see the resource outlay and are not prepared to invest in improving efficiency. The companies that realize that this is an investment in increasing their profits are the ones that will drop the reluctance. They realize that tracking can help them estimate time, which will help them estimate labor hours needed on projects, which will help them create accurate proposals or hiring forecasts.
3) What is the most important piece of advice you would offer to someone who is looking to get it all done and make their day more efficient in terms of time management?
Before you leave your office for the day, know what your top three priority tasks are for the next day. If you walk in not knowing what these are, your day will be completely reactionary and not nearly as efficient, and you definitely won’t get it all done. You’ll most likely end up running your day from your email inbox, which is rarely efficient.
If you need more guidance on how to get it all done in the day, check out chapter 9, “Turn To-Do Lists into Done Lists,” in either my book, The Inefficiency Assassin, or in my Time Management Courses.