Time is the most valuable asset you have. Unlike money, time is a finite resource. There’s no way to create more of it. You can only use the small quantity of time you have more wisely. Time tracking is to time management what budgeting is to your personal finances. By tracking your time, you’re better equipped to understand how you’re spending that most precious of all commodities. This vital information helps you use your time more wisely. And since time is money, time tracking may help you make more money, improve your reputation, reduce your stress, and stop missing deadlines.
1. Less Stress, More Meaningful Work
Work shouldn’t wreck your life. But for many people, the inability to turn off racing thoughts, the endless demand to be available, and constant deadlines eat into their free time, their family life, and their mental space.
Time tracking can help curb this ceaseless stress. By tracking precisely how you spend your time, time tracking:
- Allows you to eliminate procrastination.
- Helps you determine which tasks accomplish little but eat up time.
- Empowers you to make daily schedules you can actually stick to.
- Helps you focus on the work that actually accomplishes your goals.
2. Setting Clear Goals
It’s easy to have dreams for the future. What’s much harder is setting up a clear list of tasks to make your dreams a reality. Maybe it begins with a phone call, an email, or a tweak to your resume. Whatever you need to do to reach your goals, time tracking can help you assess how long those tasks will take. This helps you set clear, reasonable goals, while establishing specific, actionable timetables for achieving those goals.
3. No More Missed Deadlines
When you miss a deadline, you may lose a client, a raise, or a chance for a new job. It’s easy to beat yourself up, but missed deadlines might not be your fault. Sometimes you simply have more work than you can possibly do. In other cases, it may be that busy work — phone calls, pointless meetings, endless strategizing sessions — eats into your time and undermines your ability to timely complete projects.
Time tracking helps you figure out what’s causing you to miss deadlines. Empowered with this information, you can set more realistic deadlines and eliminate the busy work that impedes progress.
4. Knowing What You’re Worth
Employers often don’t know how their employees spend their time. Many mistakenly believe that all break time is wasted, or that employees who miss deadlines must not be doing their work. Time tracking gives objective data. Rather than relying on self-promotion or the appearance of busyness, using time tracking helps you show exactly how you spend your time. This can then tie your work to results. For example, if you take frequent breaks but accomplish more than anyone else on your team, this suggests that frequent breaks actually improve efficiency.
By tracking your time, you can more easily display precisely how much you’re worth. When you’re saddled with too much work or work differently than most people in your organization, this is a valuable asset. Best of all, time tracking helps you know exactly how you spend your workday — a valuable piece of information when you’re in the market for a new job and must highlight your accomplishments.
5. Getting the Help You Need
It can be tough to convince your boss you need an assistant. Ironically, the people most in need of assistance may not get it because they continually miss deadlines. Missed deadlines create the illusion that you’re ineffective, when it may just be that you have too much work. By logging your time, you can help build a case that you need help. You might even find that your boss makes fewer requests, freeing up more of your time.
If you’re self-employed, your boss may be even harder to convince. Self-employed people are often their own worst critics. If you beat yourself up over missed deadlines or think you don’t need help, time tracking can convince you otherwise. And once you get that help, you may just find that you’re accomplishing more than ever before — all with less stress.
6. Knowing When to Say No
Particularly if you own your own business, it can be hard to say no. After all, more business means more money. But missed deadlines can ultimately cost you money by undermining your reputation and losing you clients. Time tracking helps you know exactly how much you can take on at one time. That helps you say no when you have too much on your plate.
People who aren’t always available may actually be more in demand. That’s doubly true if you work for someone else. If your boss knows you’re often busy with various projects, he or she may realize how vital you are to the organization.
7. Highlighting Your Accomplishments
Sometimes people end up doing work well outside of their job description. Maybe you’re an administrative assistant who spends an inordinate amount of time on sales calls. Maybe writing product descriptions has become a secondary part of your job.
It’s easy to forget about these job duties. You might not even realize how much of your time they eat up. When you begin looking for a new job, though, highlighting these roles can make you a more appealing candidate. Even within your own organization, awareness of these additional duties could earn you a promotion, a new role, or simply more credit than you’re currently getting.
8. Evaluating Effective Time Use Strategies
You only get one today. Do you really want to waste it on Facebook or fighting with people on message boards? Many of us know that we procrastinate, but may not realize the extent to which procrastination harms us. Time tracking helps you track exactly how you spend your time. Seeing procrastination may inspire you to better use your time.
What if you can’t figure out how to get more time? Time tracking helps you budget your time the way you budget your money. Move a little time around here, merge two tasks, and voilà! Suddenly you may have more time at your disposal. More time means less stress, and potentially more money. That’s something every career needs.