Tracking Your Time

posted by Andrea | 02/7/2012

Since I work from home (and since I work for a handful of other companies, blogs, websites, etc.) it’s important for me to track my time.

Obviously, I need to accurately track all my “billable hours” so I know how much to invoice the people I work for; but I also like to track the time I spend on my own website so I know where all the hours in my day are going… and if it’s all worth it.

How I Track My Time:

Over the years, I’ve tried a few different methods of tracking my time but I always come back to the simplest way — paper and a pen. I simply list each day of the week/month on a piece of paper and then use hash marks to indicate what areas I’m spending my time {and how many hours I’m working for different companies}.

Then at the end of the week or the end of the pay period, I simply look back at my paper and bill for the appropriate hours.

This method also works well for my own website — even though I can’t always bill “by the hour”.  Tracking my time helps me to visually see where my time is going. If I see that I’m spending tons and tons of time responding to emails and comments, then I try to figure out a better system for dealing with the many emails and comments I get each day. If I see that I’m not spending as much time writing quality posts {and then my ad revenue goes down as a result} I might choose to spend more time coming up with better ideas and more quality posts.

Even before I had a baby I was very protective of my time. In my opinion, time is one thing I can NEVER get back, so I’ve always been careful not to “waste time” — and hat doesn’t mean I never do anything fun, or that I’m always working. It simply means that I work when I’m supposed to work, and I “play” when I’m done working.

If I have a job to do, I’ll do it — but I also don’t want that job to take me any longer than it has to. Tracking my time helps me be as efficient as I can be, which is probably one of the reasons I’m so good at what I do :)

Have you ever physically tracked your time?

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7 comments

  1. Tricia Bosma

    02/07/2012

    I’ve never tracked my time but I have planned out my days hour by hour on an hourly calendar. Scheduling in the time for chores, work outs, meal prep, devotions into my day makes me much more productive. After awhile it starts to feel a bit restrictive and tiring though. I need to find a happy medium.

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  2. Lisa

    02/07/2012

    For years as a law librarian I had to track all my time in 6 minute increments. Although we had fabulous time-management software, I still kept to paper and pencil in case I forgot to stop the clock or change billing numbers.

    Sometimes I make myself take 5 minutes and see what I can get done. It helps me see how little time that dreaded chore I’ve been putting off really takes!

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  3. Kari

    02/07/2012

    I too use to have to track my time in 6 minutes increments. I started with a fresh sticky note everyday and jotted down my start time and what I was doing. I’d then put when I moved on to the next thing.

    8:00 – 9:30 Activity 1
    9:30 – 10:36 Activity 2

    I could stick each day’s post-it together during the week, and then at the end of the week, accumulate and enter all time as appropriate.

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  4. Kayla @ Your Day Simplified

    02/07/2012

    Great system. Amazing how the simple way is often the best! I haven’t tracked my time like this before but maybe I’ll start…especially once I start having kids I could see this being very beneficial to decide what to cut back on. Thanks Andrea!

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  5. Shari~Rain into Rainbows

    02/08/2012

    Yup — like Lisa, way back in the day when I was a legal assistant, we had to track every.single.minute. There are good software programs for entering your time, but I did it the hard copy way like you & just entered my time at the end of each workday.

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  6. Maureen

    02/09/2012

    I use Outlook to track my time. On Monday, I consider what I need to accomplish: meetings, administrative tasks, time working on projects, lunches, appointments, etc. Then I block out a tentative schedule setting each appointment block as “Free” so I can be scheduled for meetings as need be. As each day progresses, I drag and drop the times to reflect the what really happened that day. At the end of the week, I tally up the hours on each project and task and use that information to report my time.

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  7. Kelly Jo

    02/17/2012

    I used to track my time at a previous job. We were headquarters for multiple brands/companies so we always had to bill to the appropriate company. We used an excel spreadsheet that tracked each brand.

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