The Dos and Dont’s of Time Tracking

John Reeve | December 2nd, 2021 |

The Dos and Don'ts of Time Tracking

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.

The Dos

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.

The Don’ts

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.

 

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John Reeve
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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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Jennifer Payne
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Jennifer Payne

Jennifer is the Director of Quality and Efficiency at Pelago. Her blog posts are based largely on her experience working with teams to improve harmony and productivity. Jennifer is a cat person.
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Michael Payne
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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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