A common perception is anything that can be measured, can be improved. With the easy availability of tracking technologies it is quite easy to be overwhelmed by the numerous things you need to keep track of. But one thing that everyone has to keep track of is productivity. And the only metric here is time.
Honestly, there is no need to track every minute of your day. But tracking how much time you spend on a project can be a real eye-opener.
These days, it is almost impossible to tell apart productivity from laziness. One can simply stare at the monitor pretending to be working. Again, there are overseas or remote workers and determining their productivity is often challenging for managers. It is therefore quite normal that managers and business owners would worry about the industriousness of their employees.
Here are a few ways how time tracking can increase your productivity:
While the clock in your time management application is ticking, it is less likely that you will do anything else apart from your work as you are tracking the exactly amount it took to accomplish a particular project and focusing on other shiny things like Twitter, Facebook, e-mail or any other instant messaging app will only ruin the data. No more cat videos as well.
This alone will help you to remain focused on your work. As a result, you can better concentrate on your work and complete it faster. Better yet, it will even reduce human errors. Multi-tasking is often blamed for such errors. In fact, by avoiding multi-tasking you can actually improve your overall productivity as you are focusing on one activity at a time and your entire attention is on the task at your hand. This alone can dramatically improve your productivity.
Measure & Improve Your Efficiency
You think you are efficient enough. But is the same being reflected in your time sheet? Efficiency does not mean doing the work properly, it also means doing it within the given time or less and dedicating the remaining time in some other project. Becoming efficient therefore also helps you to increase your profit.
For example, look at your time tracker record for the past three months and see how much time you take to accomplish a task from start to finish. Using this data, your goal would be to push yourself and bring that average time down over the next few weeks, of course without reducing the quality. This way you will reduce the cost of the project and therefore increase your profit.
You can apply the same trick for all your meetings and other non-productive activities and that time for some more productive, billable activities.
Identify & Remove Bottlenecks from Your Team
There are some members in every team who work longer hours than others. Now, it could be either because they are too much dedicated or maybe there is too much work for them. While the former means you have a high-performing team member, the later indicates towards the risk of low morale in the coming months. As a manager you should know the difference.
With time tracking software you can understand how people spend their time. By analyzing the data you can determine why they are working longer hours. Is it because they feel compelled to? Or, they just want to be!
Accordingly, you can take necessary steps to discuss their workload or provide training, if required. This way, you can not only improve their performance but also enhance their happiness and job satisfaction.
Similarly, this data can help you identify bottlenecks in your team and you can improve the performance of your team. This alone makes time tracking tools a great option for improving your team’s efficiency.
Provides Context and History
Often it is difficult to understand which client is most profitable and which is the biggest time suck in terms of hourly rate. This is one thing many small businesses, freelancers and independent consultants find challenging to determine. Without a time tracking application you are more likely to work more for less pay. How?
Consider this: There are so many times clients ask us for a little bit extra and we too provide the service out of good will. Next time when a client ask for some similar favor just go back into your time tracking records and see how much extra work you are doing for this client. Is that extra work reflecting in your hourly rate? If not, it’s time to replace such low-paying clients with some higher-paying ones.
As discussed, tracking your time helps you to improve your efficiency and measure your ROI. There is another benefit of using such tools i.e. setting goals. Tracking your time effectively you can reach your goals in productivity and efficiency and also determine how higher-ups/clients perceive your work.
In addition to help you set your personal/team goals, a time tracking tool shows where to focus more to increase your profit. Though nothing can replace the good old-fashioned hard work, you need to be strategic and prioritize your work from most important to least important projects. It is also essential to block out uninterrupted time for the most vital items. Time tracking tools allow you to do them all and more.
Tracking time will help you see which activities are profitable and which ones aren’t, in black and white.
Motivates to Work Quickly
Since you can see the amount of time you invest in a particular project, it motivates you to accomplish the task faster without getting distracted. If you want to increase your profit, you will need to increase your man hour. It is important to take less time do the same amount of work, without affecting the quality.
We have already discussed how tracking time can help us become more efficient. Let’s consider another example here. Bloggers usually tend to indulge in over-research and often end-up writing 2,000 words for a mere 1000-word assignment. Subsequently, they need to scale it back and spend another 1-2 hours in doing so. Altogether, a blogger tend to waste 2-3 hours in writing one post. We are not even considering other shiny objects that often distract us.
Tracking your time will help you to stay away from such distraction as well as encourage you to complete a work quickly as you can see and measure the time data.
The benefits of time tracking tools are numerous. Apart from those mentioned above, there are some other benefits as well. Let’s consider a few of them:
- Companies often use time tracking software to calculate and inform their estimates. This helps them to set deadlines.
- There are many instances when a project takes longer time to complete without any fault of yours. May be it is due to scope creep but you have no means to prove it. By tracking the time spent on the project, including each task, you can easily back up your case.
Want to improve your/team’s productivity? The first step is to track and analyze your working week and see where you wasting time and eliminate those. You can also see exactly how much time you can save if things were done otherwise.