We need to back up a little here… we’re in the middle of an informal series of articles on time tracking, but I never told you why tracking your time might be a good idea…
Keeping track of your time provides you with many benefits:
- You can periodically compare your actual progress with your anticipated, projected or scheduled progress.
- You can learn to forecast for personal projects, and for projects you want to outsource.
- Having a record of your time protects you in hostile environments, such as businesses responding to recessionary economies with firings and layoffs. You can use your time log as justification for NOT getting laid off… or for creating a synopsis useful for getting a new job, if worst comes to worst.
- Some jobs, especially work on US government contracts, require accurate time tracking as part of your accounting compliance. You just don’t have choice.
- For you self-development
nutsenthusiasts, time tracking provides a concrete record of achievement, which (according to Nathanial Branden) helps you bolster your self-esteem. If this seems lame to you, let me ask you a question: what have you done so far this year? Can you remember? Or does it all blur into a pastiche most accurately labeled: “I went to work.”
In short, keeping track of your time will make you more productive in the long run.
Now, there are some downsides: initially, time tracking is . Until you have some experience with it, you may feel it ruins your flow, or keeps you from getting in the zone. These are valid concerns. If you’re on a government or defense contract for the first time, your concerns are irrelevant, the government doesn’t care, just write it down!
But if you’re not on a federal contract, and you would like to subject yourself to a little discipline now to reap some rewards later, stay tuned. We”l be talking about billable versus non-billable hours, and why you should track both. We’ll discuss web applications for tracking time, including Clicktime, which is one of the best. And we’ll discuss in depth how to figure out just what it is you ARE doing, so that you can log your time effectively.