Jun 13, 2015
It’s Friday and we’re going to look at a few tools you can use to keep track of your time each day.
If you go back and listen to Episode 131 this past Tuesday, we talked about how we can find lost time in our day.
That’s what these apps are used for. They’re kind of like the diet or fitness apps that keep track of the food you eat each day.
Most of us don’t realize how many grams of protein, fat or carbohydrates we eat each day. But when we track them we can see if things are out of balance.
Same thing with your time.
If you don’t measure it, you won’t know if you’ve improved on it. Measure.
If you’ve ever used Mint on your computer or smartphone, you’ll understand this process.
You have to know where your money is going before you can really lay out an accurate budget.
You have to know where you time is going before you can really lay out an accurate schedule.
So, let’s look at two apps that I think will help you track your time, without being a time drain themselves.
That’s something you always run into when you are trying to improve. You have to make time for “sharpening your saw."
So Let’s Take a Look
This seem kind of basic, but it works great for quickly discerning where your time goes.
Don’t go crazy with too many colors.. that defeats the purpose.
Clients - Projects - Tasks
If you have clients you’re billing, this is very useful, but even if you don’t, this is still very usable because it helps when you’re looking at your reporting.
You can set the time tracking increments to as few as 6 minutes… that works perfect because it breaks each hour into 10 chunks. It also forces you to not worry too much about the accuracy. Don’t get crazy.
You may even want to track in 15 minute blogs. I talk about this back in Tuesdays episode. Go back and listen if you missed it.
You can manually sort where items are on the front page so the most frequently used are at the top.
The worst thing is making time tracking a task in an of itself that needs to be tracked.
These apps, both Hours and Jiffy, make it about as easy as possible. I love that.
Reminders! So you don’t miss time tracking
If you don’t have a task being tracked by a specific time each day, Hours will remind you.
I set mine to remind me every day at 7am and stop reminding me at 9pm.
It will also remind if I go 15 minutes without a task being tracked.
You can adjust all of these time.
This has helped me on a couple of occasions.
Of course, if you do forget to track a task, with both Jiffy and Hours, you can VERY easily go in and manually add it or start it and adjust the time it should have began.
I’ve done this a couple of times with driving. For some reason I get very narrow in my focus when I’m heading out somewhere.
The whole reason for tracking your time is so you can go back and see where your time is being spent and any areas that may surprise you.
The reporting looks like it’s a little prettier on the Jiffy app for Android.
Jiffy offers a more graphical reporting, while Hours just gives you the data
Both of them allow you to look at your time over the past day, week, month, year, all time or even a custom time window.
Another advantage the Jiffy app has is the ability to use Jiffy Tags.
These are physical tags which you can attach to certain items such as your computer screen, maybe your microphone (if you’re podcasting) and maybe something in the kitchen.
When you touch your phone to a Jiffy Tag, it will automatically change the task it’s tracking on your phone. Maybe put one in your car so you don’t forget to track your driving time (something I did frequently).
Jiffy also offers stickers which won’t change the task on your phone, but they will remind you to change it. This could help as well.
Not a Lifetime Commitment
I don’t think you need to track your time for the rest of your life.
I think a good typical week is probably enough to find any glaring time wasters in your average day.
Then you can refine your daily schedule, become more aware of those time wasters and become more efficient.
In a few months, you may want to go back and make sure nothing else has popped up taking more of your time.
But, basically, once you have it under control, you’re going to be done with this app.
Just like tracking your food, it’s a lot about awareness and making changes based on that data.
I Can’t Believe You Didn’t Mention TOGGL!
I know… if you use Toggl, you’re outraged I didn’t mention it.
Honestly, I didn’t really dig into but I do plan on giving it a try at some point.
Toggle looks great because it is a cross platform time tracker which allows you to start tracking on one device and stop tracking on another. This could come in VERY handy in some work environments.
Toggl also works great with team environments. It’s really meant for billable hours on projects.
You may have several team members working on one project and they all need to account for their time.
You can also use it just to make sure you’re pricing your services properly. Even if you’re not billing per hour.
It’s available for iOs, Android, Windows, Mac, and even Linux.
It will integrate with project management software like Trello or Asana.
It’s free for teams up to 5 people and unlimited projects.
If you want the ability to put in billable rates for each project or task,, or you need bigger team sizes, you’ll need to go up to the Pro version which is $5 per user.
Don’t COMPLICATE THIGNS
The last think you want to do is complicate this process. It shouldn’t become a burden.
Don’t stress if you don’t have the tracking down to the exact minute.
Also, don’t overanalyze your time or track time for too long.
Unless you’re required to track time for billing, this is going to be a short lived project for most people.