In my previous blog post, I shared answers from an interview that I gave about time logging or time tracking.
After reading that post, I had a few people asked me, “Do I really need to track my hours?”
Whether you call it time tracking or time journaling or time logging, the concept is that you keep a record of how your time was spent. To most people, this sounds rather tedious, and they do not jump for joy at the thought of doing it. When employers ask their employees to do this, employees might grumble that this is just a form of micro-management and that “big brother” is watching their every move. These feelings are understandable, but once you realize what the benefit is, you’ll wish you’d done this ages ago. You might even get excited and squeal, “Yeah! I’ll track my hours!”
I use a chart with my clients to do this time tracking. (You can download a copy from my complimentary Productivity Kickstarter Kit, which you can sign up for in the sidebar or at the bottom of this page.) The chart consists of seven columns – one for each day of the week. Each day is divided into 30 minute increments. The goal is to quickly notate how each 30 minutes has been used.
When people are “forced” to record this information, they start to realize how unfocused and undirected their days can be. They discover their time leaks and learn where they can tighten their belts, improve their focus, and easily gain back an hour or two each day. But they don’t realize where these leaks are until they work on this assignment. Usually, they’d been operating on autopilot, just working on whatever popped up in front of them. But this time journaling or time logging required them to be fully present throughout the day. They were able to catch themselves changing directions and realize that was not a good choice in that moment. They learned what it felt like to begin to go into procrastination mode, so they could cut back on that in the future. They began to see patterns that they never realized they’d developed – like escaping to email whenever they didn’t feel like working on the task in front of them, grabbing their phones to check texts or jump on social media because their device had made a sound.
“Yeah! I’ll track my hours!”
By being fully present throughout the day and cognizant of how they were spending their time, they were able to plug the time leaks that they’d discovered. Without having to completely change who they were or how to do things, they were able to cut back on the behaviors that cost them time.
If you have never participated in time logging or time tracking or time journaling, I encourage you to do so. If you need more guidance on how to do this, check out chapter 21, “Know Where Your Time Goes, So That You Can Tell Your Time What to Do,” in either my book, The Inefficiency Assassin, or in my Time Management Courses. Happy Tracking!