Where does the time go? At the end of your workday, do you hope for more time to complete a task, wish for one more hour to read the articles you bookmarked, doubt you’ll ever get ahead or feel too overwhelmed to tackle that side project?
As Benjamin Franklin said, “Lost time is never found again.” But you can do something about it.
To make strategic, life-changing moves to increase your productivity, you need to track and analyze your use of time. All of those shortcuts, hacks and productivity tips don’t ensure progress unless you know which ones you need most.
Think about time tracking like a financial budget and your time as a monetary value (after all, time is money). By evaluating your use of time, you can find out which areas of your workday you’d like to spend more or less time on so that your precious minutes are used for what’s most meaningful.
With this type of personal assessment, you can make better decisions to manage your time. You can cut down on time-wasters, you can delegate responsibilities or you can eliminate bad habits altogether.
Clicking stopwatches and filling spreadsheets to track your time may eat up even more time in your day, though. To be a smarter, modern worker, take advantage of free mobile apps and web applications to track your time during the workday:
1. The Taskmaster: Toggl is a free, simple way to record how you spend every second. Just input your task and click the big stop button when you’re done. You can even add tags in the free version so you can break down your workday and track categories like emails, meetings and research.
2. The Smart Calendar: We all know meetings can be one of the most time-sucking parts of the workday. A free smart calendar app like Agenday not only helps you stay on track for meetings with instant notifications but also offers easy access to mobile meetings with one-click joining (so you can skip the commute). To take it a step further, you can even use a smart calendar to schedule goals for your workday like a 30-minute slot for brainstorming or a 10-minute break to recharge.
3. The Web Browsing Monitor: What just happened on Twitter? I can’t believe she posted that to Facebook! Social media, online shopping, BuzzFeed quizzes and other fun sites divert our attention away from work tasks more than we think. An application or browser extension like Time Tracker for Chrome records all of the websites you visit, including how much time you spend on each, and shows you just how much the seconds you spend elsewhere really do add up to time lost.
In addition to cubicle commuters, virtual teams also benefit from time-tracking tools like these. Team leaders can encourage telecommuters to use their time wisely with these methods without resorting to micro-management.
Teleworkers struggling for work-life balance (or embracing work-life integration) can even track time throughout the entire day to see the big picture of what happens as time ticks away before and after the workday.
Of course, finding the best tool to track your time really depends on your style of working. Download our free ebook today to find out Which Type of Teleworker Are You?