Something I hear often from designers and developers is that they can never find the motivation to track their time — or they never remember to in the first place.
An underlying reason is that they simply don’t need to track their time in their job. A number of developers I know bill by the project and so there is no urgency to track time.
Convincing these people to track their time is nearly impossible, so I won’t try. I’ve put together a list of reasons why you might consider tracking your time if you happen to be one of these people.
For those who do need to track time, but dislike the process I suggest trying the following:
- Consider tracking time with a stopwatch based time tracking system. Not only will a stopwatch remind you that you’re on task, but it should keep you from becoming distracted because you’ll know the timer is running. The next time YouTube or Facebook call to you, you’ll realize you need to stop the timer.
- If a stopwatch isn’t your thing, you can always manually log your time after-the-fact. But you should know that your memory will never be perfect. If you forget about 15 minutes of possible billable time per day the lost earnings could cost you dearly.
- Track your billable time, and your unbillable time. The reason you want to track your unbillable time is so you can gauge your billable efficiency over time. You’ll know whether you’re 50% billable, or 75%. Knowing that could mean the difference between success and failure.
- Compare notes with coworkers or friends. Tracking time is best enjoyed as a team sport. Share your results with colleagues in your office, or outside.
- Don’t just log time to projects. Write detailed notes about what you did during that time period. You’ll find that the notes help with billing but at the end of the week you will have an at-a-glance report of what you did.
I realize that time tracking isn’t for everybody, but if you need to do it as part of your job, I hope these tips help. Feel free to email with any questions you may have about time tracking. I’ve been tracking my time for over 3 years now, and I love it!
Update: There are a few time tracking apps that will automatically pop up and prompt you to let them know what you are working on. You can set a frequent interval, such as every 15 minutes. This forces you to enter your time constantly through the day.