Four Tips for Tracking Your Time Better

| March 17th, 2008 | , ,

Every small business struggles with tracking their time. As a web development shop, we’ve been constantly evolving and improving our time tracking methodologies since we started eight years ago. Here are some tips we have learned along the way.

1. Group your daily tasks by availability and type of work

If you know you are going to have three solid hours to get things done, try to work on a lot of similar tasks. Mentally shifting gears is a productivity killer and will hinder your efforts to track time. It is much easier to keep track of your hours if you can work uninterrupted and on fewer tasks. The best time for this is in the morning, when your mind is fresh and your day hasn’t yet been hijacked by client and coworker needs.

2. Use timers and use them often

Find web-based or desktop timer software that works for you, preferably with multiple timer support, and use it. Get in the habit of starting and stopping timers each time you touch a task. The more you practice at this, the more second-nature it will become. We’ve been doing this long enough now that stopping and starting task timers are a natural part of our workflow.

3. Find your time zone

After a few days of diligent tracking, you should have a pretty good idea of what a normal day looks like in terms of hours tracked. Don’t expect to track every minute at your desk, because it won’t happen. My magic number is 7.5 hours. Knowing my daily number helps me stay focused on getting things done, but also gives me some wiggle room to goof off and surf the ‘net.

4. Turn it into a competition

At the end of each week, compare your hours tracked with your coworkers, or your own previous week. A friendly competition among coworkers is a great way to get people motivated to track their time better. We review and compare our timesheet totals each week, and challenge one another to do better the next week.

This blog post was written in .625 hours.

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A collection of useful tips, tales and opinions based on decades of collective experience designing and developing web sites and web-based applications.

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Intervals is online time, task and project management software built by and for web designers, developers and creatives.
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John Reeve

John is a co-founder, web designer and developer at Pelago. His blog posts are inspired by everyday encounters with designers, developers, creatives and small businesses in general. John is an avid reader and road cyclist.
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Michael Payne

Michael is a co-founder and product architect at Pelago. His contributions stem from experiences managing the development process behind web sites and web-based applications such as Intervals. Michael drives a 1990 Volkswagen Carat with a rebuilt 2.4 liter engine from GoWesty.
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