Tools for Your Tracking Time
Posted: October 16, 2014
In the time of punch clocks, tracking the hours and minutes you spent working was easy-peasy. Simply show up to work, grab your card, line it up, and punch it — then rinse and repeat at the end of the day. Some companies still use this system, or each employee is assigned a code to enter at the beginning and end of their shifts. But when you have a virtual job that includes multiple projects for different clients, you need to find a way to keep a record of the time spent on each individual assignment. Check out these tips and tools for tracking time.
Find a Method to the Madness
For contractors especially, things can get a bit messy when it comes to keeping hours logged. You may have multiple clients and tasks at a time, leading to several invoices and wide-ranging timelines. Whether on paper or online, try to keep a general running “tab” on all your projects. Keep all information regarding each specific project together — statements of work, project plans, prior invoices, and deadlines. This will make it easier if you need to look up the agreed upon work effort or due date down the road.
In this day and age, there are a plethora of applications made specifically to help you track your time. Some, like My Minutes, offer encouragement for tasks completed ahead of time and reminders for those behind schedule. Others, such as toggl and ATracker, function as a stopwatch, allowing you to enter your activity and press ‘start’ and ‘stop’ as you please. While some of these apps are only available for smartphones, most can also be used right on your desktop! Open up a tab right next to your inbox for an easy way to see how much time you’re spending on each task throughout the day.
Keep in mind — these apps aren’t just for work! You can also use them for everyday activities, such as cooking, sleeping, watching TV, and exercising. Check out the daily reports to see how productive your day was (if you dare).
If you’re not into the format of tracking apps, and paper just isn’t cutting it, consider using Excel spreadsheets as a way to log your hours. With (nearly) unlimited columns and rows, you can structure your time log however you please. Try making a tab for each project, or color-coding the cells to show which assignments are on par with the hours allotted. You can easily keep weekly totals of hours and earnings by using various formulas.
Once you’ve employed one of the methods above, it becomes much simpler to transfer the information to your company’s hour tracker, if necessary. Suddenly, writing up an invoice is a piece of cake, which leaves you with, well…more time.
What techniques do you use to track your time?