How I made tracking my time into something more
When I first needed to track my time, I quickly realized it wasn't something I relished doing. In fact, at the time, the tools available to me were so frustrating to use that I ended up creating my own! That's how TimeTag came to be, and that same philosophy guides the product through to today: To create a time tracking tool that someone (including me) would actually want to use.
There are at least a couple of reasons to track time. The most obvious reason and presumably the most popular one is to create billable reports of time. Using a time tracking tool helps me understand where I spent my time for each client and project. It also helps me create better estimates for future projects.
As a freelance developer, the ability to estimate my hours more accurately is huge beneficial--for future clients, and for myself. I can get closer to my hourly rate for fixed cost projects, and I can be more honest and up front about my estimates. This especially helps if the client has a tight budget but still wants to build the project--I can offer up suggestions on how to bring the project's costs down based on where most of my hours would be spent.
Lately, I've been trying to change my perception of time tracking away from it simply being a utility, or something I have to do. I've been trying to think of it in a more meaningful and useful way. That's when I started realizing that tracking my time can help me achieve my goals-- goals like completing projects for clients, working smarter at Capparsa, and being a happier and more productive version of myself.
Completing a project ends up being a goal, and TimeTag helps me track my progress towards that finish line. With the logs it has, I can look back and see the journey I took-- how much time I spent in total, per day, and what activities took the most time. By changing my attitude towards time tracking away from it being a pain to it being a valuable tool that helps me achieve my goals, I've ended up being way more diligent with it and loving the data it provides. Time is a journey after all and tracking it tells its story.
Time tracking can be as precise or loose as you want.
The other way I've started using TimeTag as a result of my attitude change is my measuring my productivity in general. As I always write, I'm obsessed with productivity. Getting rich data helps me understand myself better, and helps me make smarter decisions. By "rich data", I mean all my time logs that together tell a story. I can see that I rarely work on weekends (which is important--give yourself some time off to reset!), and that Fridays are usually pretty light. I'm most active during mid to late mornings, and early afternoons. All of this data helps me plan better and be proactive with my time.
Using TimeTag ends up being less about the exact minutes spent, or the exact activities being done. (In fact, I sometimes measure 'productive' vs. 'not productive' tags!) Instead, it helps give me a general idea of my own habits. It makes me aware of when I'm most likely to be in 'peak' mode, so that I can set aside those times to do my best, most focused work.
Time tracking is rarely, if ever, an end in itself. We do it out of some kind of need--whether that's a job, or starting a new hobby, or helping us stay focused and be more productive. I think the best way to track your time is to make it fun and interesting!
We're hard at work at building TimeTag into more than just a time tracking tool. (We're also working on a new product that will tie into it!) If you're interested in learning more, be sure to sign up for our insiders list below. Of course if you don't have a copy of the app, be sure to download it for free today!
Thanks, and have a wonderful productive day!