What’s measured gets done.
Five months ago, we looked at three gadgets that boost productivity. Now we look at tracking. Do you know how you're using your time? Do you know how long repetitive activities take?
I started paying more attention since I'm part of a Pick Four goals program. Here are three tools that work work together
- time awareness
- passive tracking
- active tracking
Time AwarenessIn his new book, How Your Best Got Better, Jason Womack makes an observation that's “obvious” in retrospect. If you divide your 24 hour day into 15 minute chunks, you get 96 blocks. That means that each block is about 1% of your day. Waste 30 minutes and you've wasted 2%. This simple observation made we understand the importance of time.
Can you focus for 15 minutes? Yes. If you have a 2 hour project, you have 8 blocks. You don't need to work on them consecutively but doesn't 8 blocks look more manageable than 120 minutes?
Jason recommends using a simple egg timer. If you're at your computer, you can use the free e.ggtimer.com website (try it). I didn't want to look at a computer screen because there are too many distractions. I got a physical digital timer from Wal-Mart for $9. It counts down or up.
I've been amazed at how my productivity improved.
Some activities can suck up time. Your trap might be web surfing, Facebook, LinkedIn, videos or gaming. Allocate 15 minutes and stop when you hear the buzzer.
Passive TrackingThere's an amazing web-based tool called RescueTime (affiliate link) that runs in the background on your computer and Android phone. RescueTime silently tracks where your time is going. A simple gauge shows how you compare with other people. A graph shows how productively you use your time. Users are said to save 3:54 hours a week.
You can improve your results by setting some parameters. The paid version ($6/month if you pay for a year) will even tell you which applications were running. I started with the free version and upgraded to paid within a few days. There's a free trial.
If you're mobile, you can run track using a mobile app on your Android phone. The results get logged and consolidated online.
Active TrackingYou probably work on repetitive activities or projects. For instance, you might prepare proposals. I blog but wasn't sure how long writing a post really took.
I started using a web-based tool called Toggl.com. There's a nicely-equipped free version. I got hooked and upgraded to the full version which costs $5 per month. This puts your activities on your calendar and has other features. Besides, you’re supporting the developers. There are apps for iOS and Android.
If you charge for your time, Toggl lets you set different projects for different clients. You can specify what's billable and what's not. You get reports too.
If you're mobile, you can run track using a mobile app. The results get logged and consolidated online.
SurprisesI was surprised to find that I use my time more effectively than I expected. The timer makes a huge difference. There's so much that we can get done in 15 minutes.
As a minimum, try using a countdown timer (even the free e.ggtimer.com). Next, try one either a passive or active time tracking. Or both.