Time is a non-renewable resource, a finite pool from which we draw our mindfulness, creativity, and rest. It is the most valuable resource we have at our fingertips, however, time is often misused or overlooked. If we want to manage our time better and make better business decisions, we must first learn where our time is going.
Time tracking software is the best learning tool to start with if you want less burnout and increased productivity. However, there are some goals to aim for and pitfalls to avoid. Here are the dos and dont’s of time tracking you should know about before getting started.
Do make it part of your company culture
Incorporating time tracking software into your day-to-day workflow will require that your team embrace this new change. Time tracking is not a chore, so don’t treat it like one. Everyone who participates has to want to track their time, not be told to do so. One tangible and immediate benefit of time tracking is that it gives your team data to back up their intuition when making decisions, like whether or not to fire a problematic client, or cutting out early on a Friday. It’s hard to say no to that.
Do use it to gauge profitability
Whether your projects are billed hourly or at a fixed fee, calculating profitability is going to utilize the same equation — amount paid minus cost of hours worked. Time tracking software not only gives you the data you need to calculate profit, it can alert you to budget overages before they happen based on how your time is trending. Gauging profitability on each project means you can correct course early and stay on course for an overall profitable year.
Do use it to improve productivity
Once you find out where your time is going you also find out where it’s being wasted. There have been plenty of times when someone on my team, including myself, spent too many hours chasing a troublesome task down a rabbit hole. Or one of us has neglected to work on a task at all. Time tracking will reveal these discrepancies so we can follow up with one another and keep working forward.
Don’t be Big Brother
Using time tracking as a monitoring tool to enforce an eight-hour work day or 40 hour work week will only cause your team to burn out and churn out at a faster pace. Time tracking should not be used to double down on what are already questionable workplace policies.
Don’t use it as a ledger
Even though time tracking tools capture most of the time we spend working, they still can’t (and shouldn’t) track every minute. Don’t try to account for your entire day. It’s ok if some of your time goes unaccounted for each week. Our focus should always be on the quality of time spent working, not the number of minutes.
Don’t measure or compare
The weekly timesheet is not a measure of one’s abilities. Don’t compare one person’s timesheet to another. We all work at our own pace, a pace that fluctuates from person to person and week to week. If you use time tracking to get everyone on your team to perform the same then their differences will become a weakness instead of a strength.