This is not about time management because time cannot be managed. You can only manage your activities in relation to the time you have available.
If you make tracking your time a daily habit, you will experience a shift in your ability to complete things on time.
Reasons Why People Do Not Track Their Time
While it is common to use a calendar, diary or planner to manage activities, tracking how time is spent is not common with most people.
Reasons why people do not track their time include:
- They do not know the benefits.
- They view it as an inconvenience.
- They do not know how to do it.
- They are comfortable doing what they have always done.
- They may not place a high value on their time.
To make the best use of your time, you have to know how you are spending it. Tracking your time is one way to learn more about how you use it.
How I Track My Time
I have tried different techniques to improve my productivity and ability to complete things on time. The best ones that have worked for me are using the Pomodoro technique and creating a daily plan.
The way I use the Pomodoro technique is I set a timer to work for 50 minutes, then I will have a break for about five to ten minutes to refresh and recharge. After four hours, I will take a longer 30-minute break, before repeating the process for the next four hours.
With my daily plan, which I start the night before, I identify the top three tasks I need to complete that day and allocate how much time I want to spend on it. These three tasks are my biggest priorities and take up most of my day.
I also identify up to three extra tasks that I will only do once I complete my top three tasks. If I don’t complete any of my tasks, I move them to the next day or another day later in the week.
The benefits of tracking my time include:
- I am constantly improving how long I take to complete tasks.
- It has made me disciplined and focused.
- I don’t waste time because I know it is allocated.
- I have created more free time by working effectively.
- I am better organised and have more clarity on what needs to be done.
5 Things You Will Gain if You Track Your Time
If you make tracking your time a priority, you will experience a shift in how you work and what you produce. Here are five things you will gain if you track your time.
- You will know where and how you are spending or wasting time. It has been said you can only improve what you measure. Without a baseline, you won’t know what to focus on. Tracking your time and knowing how much time you lose on unproductive activities will surprise you.
- You will create a better daily structure. Even though it may appear counterintuitive, having more structure will create more free time. When you create an effective work routine, you are more likely to stay focused longer, which means you will complete things faster.
- You will have more clarity on your priorities. Once you have a better understanding of how you are using your time, you will know what tasks you should or shouldn’t be doing. As you focus more on your priorities, you will eliminate low-value activities that uses valuable time.
- You will increase your motivation. Humans are reward-seeking creatures. If you know being disciplined and focused will create more free time, you will be motivated to complete tasks in the time allocated. Greater motivation will improve other areas of your life too.
- You will form the habit of working on one thing at a time. Those who work on one thing at a time will always outperform those who switch between tasks constantly. When you allocate a certain amount of time to a task, you are less likely to work on something else.
Tools You Can Use to Track Your Time
It is better to keep things simple and use tools readily available to track your time. Tools you can use include:
- The timer on your phone.
- Apps such as Be Focused, which is the one I use.
- A stopwatch or alarm clock.
The main thing is to have a system for tracking your time and constantly review and improve.
If you track your time, you will progress faster, while producing better outcomes. That can lead to other opportunities to improve your performance and how much you get done.
If you don’t track your time, you will not know how you can improve, which means you will not increase your productivity and remain at the same level of performance you’re at now.
Action Step: If you are not tracking your time, do it for at least one week. After the first week, review how you spent your time and identify ways you can improve. Aim to make tracking your time a habit.
Question: What are other things you will gain when you track your time?