How Time Tracking Improves Productivity

How Time Tracking Improves Productivity

Businesses in the digital age run on time tracking. Time is the globally accepted universal currency to measure efficiency, productivity and outcomes.

Over time, technology has brought to light the significance of measuring various metrics to account for desired outcomes, profitability and improved work-life balance.

Not only that, our understanding of productivity and effectiveness has also seen radical shifts in terms of quality over quantity, outputs vs outcomes and multitasking vs time blocking.

Why Time Tracking is important?

Gone are the days when time tracking was done just to capture the time spent by employees at work and seen more as an employee monitoring measure.

And today it is all about measuring:

  • Resource Utilization
  • Billable vs non-billable hours
  • Identifying resource availability
  • Total project hours vs spent hours
  • Planned vs actual hours

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The above metrics provide a holistic view of how healthy our business and projects are. It’s a cumulative approach that can then be broken to individuals to identify:

  • Execution bottlenecks
  • Work habits
  • Workflows & processes

Following which proper remediation actions and improvements can be planned.

But before that let us take a look at common challenges that disrupt our daily plans and activities.

How to prevent Time Tracking Challenges?

Throughout the day we work on multiple tasks demanded by our role within the organization and they do take away precious time from activities that are crucial to our key goals and objectives.

Managing all such “necessary evils”, planning them right and keeping them to the minimum is a must to ensure optimal productivity.

Administrative Activities

Meetings with the clients, teams and executives are necessary. So are email management, collaboration, status reviews, approval requests etc.

The key is not to get carried away by them and ensure that these are planned during our low productive hours.

It is best that you do not start your day with a focus on these activities. Alternatively, if there are pending items from these categories then yes else plan them such that they do not interrupt your key planned activities of the day.

Notify required team members w.r.t your plan and set clear expectations as when they can expect responses, approvals and book a slot on your calendar.

Ad-hoc Requests and Interruptions

No matter how robust our planning and how hard we try to stick to our tasks for the day, we are bound to be interrupted by last minute “emergency” activities, meeting requests, impromptu discussions.

That’s a known professional hazard.

At times, we cannot avoid these activities and they delay our original planned tasks.

A proven approach is to catalogue all such

  • Requests
  • Request types
  • Requestors
  • Timing of the requests
  • Time spent by you on such requests per day/week/month

Ding! This quantification will help you to deal with such requests better in the future or prevent them altogether.

The sad part is we all get sucked into such activities in a daily basis but do not track them rightly to ensure we are not behind on our deliverables.

Digital Distractions

Social media apps, constant IM dings and the fear of missing out (FOMO) leads to a lot of distraction.

We all know that once distracted, it takes about 25 mins to get back in to the productive zone on the task you were working on.

Not giving into the urge of frequently checking WhatsApp messages, tweets and Facebook feeds is a logical thing to do. But not easy in today’s digital age.

The next best thing is put all such notifications to sleep during work hours.

You are being paid to get the job done and not for being a social media hippie!

These feeds and tweets will still be there to glaze through during your free time.

Just go to your app settings and see the hours you spent in the app during the week.

Understand your social media behaviour and analyse how much productive time has been lost to it.

Right there you get crucial hours back that can be deputed for tasks that take us closer to our goals and help meet our objectives.

Multitasking

Not a smart thing to do! Period! It is just over-hyped. You can never deliver with consistent quality if you multitask frequently.

The major impact of this is spending more time in getting the tasks done.

Track time on your individual tasks for a week and then see for which similar task types there is a variation.

You will be able to correlate to the times when you were multitasking that led to the deviation in spent hours.

Moreover, multitasking often ends in missing out on some task activities, thereby leading to rework. This is a total drain of efforts and project cost.

Multitasking is anti- time management.

Procrastination

Yes! We all are guilty of it and we know it.

Often times, tasks that may require extensive efforts, involve research or learning curve and tasks that we are not comfortable doing lead us to procrastination. We are happy putting them away unless they become top priority.

This needs to stop!

As the saying goes, kill the elephant in the room. Plan for such tasks to be handled during your peak productivity hours.

Another alternative is to take a hard look of your calendar and find a day that is not too heavy and slot them in.

This way you are not stretched by conflicting priorities or take the easy way out with a botched up half-hearted effort.

Also, do some preliminary review of all such activities, identify an expert within your team or someone who may have worked on such tasks in the past and ask for help.

The result, you will not only gain the required knowledge, learn something fruitful but also get into a habit of handling tough tasks.

And before you know it, you also upskill, able to contribute more to your projects and improve your productivity.

The Solution

It is a given that we will be faced with one or more of these challenges in our day to day work and personal lives.

And the solution begins with being a little mindful of your activities throughout the day and disciplined in your approach.

Some of the proven yet simple techniques that can help us manage and overcome these challenges include:

  • Make a thorough task list for the day, week or as far as possible for the month.
  • Assign realistic start dates, due dates and planned hours for these tasks.
  • Track actual start and end dates along with actual spent hours.
  • Note all unplanned and impromptu tasks that end up on your table along with the hours spent in dealing with them.
  • Identify your peak productivity hours.
  • Say NO to all unplanned tasks that land during the peak productivity hours.
  • Communicate your day’s plan with the key stakeholders as applicable to ensure minimum interruptions.
  • Try to maintain a calendar that is well balanced in terms of workload, collaboration and review times.
  • Lastly track all such activities in a centralized project management tool.

There are numerous time tracking apps that help you track time using timer, timesheets, auto reminders and notifications.

But tracking of key goals and objectives is also a must. An overarching project management and collaboration tool with robust task, time and resource management capabilities will keep you in good stead.

As it will help you get team updates in real time, mobile access to respond to team queries and collaborate frequently thereby saving you time and efforts.

The end result – steep rise in efficiency and productivity.

What’s the best time management tool you rely on to ensure your team’s utilization rates?

If not, checkout Orangescrum’s full feature access free 14 day trial today!

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