Time Tracking or Time Blocking: What’s Good?

The business world understands only the language of money. And the currency is Time! Organizations are obsessed with time tracking and their employees cannot hate time tracking enough.

For businesses, time tracking is the way to showcase effort spent & work delivered. And employees feel they are being micro managed, each of their moves are being tracked or they are not being trusted.

And the whole range of negative emotions follow.

But the most important aspects and value of time management are forgotten.

First and foremost, each one of us must remember that optimum management of time leads to

  • Being mindful of your actions
  • Eliminating wasteful activities
  • Focusing on activities that have high impact
  • Higher productivity and efficiency
  • Better ROI for both the employers and their employees

We all listen, teach & preach about the benefits of time management, time tracking, utilizing your time smartly etc. Yet we fail to implement it in an impactful manner.

Some of us are more consistent than others. Some just don’t believe in it. Then there are some for whom only the results are enough irrespective of the maths behind it. Because all of us just want to strike through their to do list, report completion and get through the day.

Amongst all the fuss about time management, we ought to segregate the clutter and get to the crux:

“It is about deriving maximum output & gain from every minute spent.”

The principle is simple. And applies to all – organizations and people.

Organizations can look into it in terms of $$ realization and people in terms of a life that is impactful both professionally and personally.

Let’s get down to business!

How exactly do you derive maximum value using both time tracking and time blocking?

Time Tracking

Time tracking is more of logging hours. Keeping your entries. Tracking every hour spent on various activities – be it business, internal works or project execution.

It is looked upon strictly as a business mandate. There isn’t much art and science behind it. And enter, thousands of time tracking apps.

Well, time management apps are indeed required to help us stay on top of our activities. Do our time-keeping so that we can invoice our customers and get paid.

Time tracking apps provide a lot of collaboration benefits too. Keep the work organized.

Projects, tasks and teams are linked meaningfully. Time logging is streamlined.

Proper project time reporting is done to ensure transparency for our customers.

And the end objective remains to get paid on time, get paid faster & book profits.

Teams tend to overlook the key benefit of time tracking as they aren’t interested in it and consider it an unwanted admin task.

No amount of technology, tools, techniques or policies can force you to understand the real value of time management unless you are self-aware!

The business centric aspects of time tracking focus on

  • Resource Utilization
  • Resource Allocation
  • Billable vs Non-billable hours
  • Planned vs Actual

These reports will give you an indication of how things are and what improvements are required. But to gain absolute specificity and improve utilization rates the answer is Time Blocking.

Time Blocking

Time Blocking is to do more with being highly effective.

Note:

Productivity is about getting things done. More and more things done. Focus is on Quantity.

Effectiveness is about impact. Doing things of maximum impact. Focus is Qualitative.

Time Blocking has to do a lot with planning, discipline and objectivity.

To start with:

  • Make a list of all tasks and activities you need to work on
  • Depute date and specific hours
  • Slot them in your “calendar”
  • Stick to your calendar

So what’s the benefit?

  1. Prevent distractions.
  2. Know what you need to work on next.
  3. Depute the hours and deadlines.
  4. Plan ahead of time.
  5. Identify if progress is being made.

Now, when you practice this over a period of time, you get to know your own output.

You can measure your efficacy as well as the impact of your work.

The problem is; we are so engrossed in getting our to-do list checked out that we lose sight of “true progress”.

We work. Correct. No doubt. But what about progress? Both are not the same.

Agree?

If not, can you tell me right now, how many activities you have in your day which if not done will break your day?

Again, if the answer is NO, you are just working not making progress.

Time blocking has a lot to do with focused execution.

As indicated by the Pomodoro Technique the idea is to take short breaks at regular intervals while working on your tasks.

This leads to increased effectiveness and helps get things done faster and with quality.

Takeaways

The idea is to strike a balance between tracking and blocking time.

Take a closer look & you will find that both are inclusive.

If you aren’t a calendar person plus there are dependencies for a majority of your tasks, use a project management and task collaboration tool.

Look for one that provides optimum time management capabilities.

  • List down all your project activities
  • Mark the respect assignee
  • Set proper start & due dates and estimated hours – (Time blocking)
  • Use the tool’s calendar feature to make note of your activities for the day
  • Run the timer when you are actually working on the task
  • Do pause for breaks. Log break times.
  • Save the timer when you are done.
  • Complete your tasks

Now, do a self-review at the end of the day and week. See how you did w.r.t planned vs actual hours.

And also in terms of getting the work done. Were there reworks? Improvement feedback?

Or were they accepted flawlessly?

The answers will set the tone for the next steps in getting further actionable inputs

  • Clarity on recurring activities so you can plan them better
  • Get a list of activities you must do daily/regularly in the interest of your project/business
  • Remove/reduce all wasteful activities that do not contribute to your project/business goals
  • Schedule your and the team’s time better
  • Make a robust & sustainable project execution machine

Give the actionable inputs above a chance. Try them out now!

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