I'd tried doing that exercise in the past with pen an paper. I usually kept at it for a couple of hours. Then the time sheet would get lost (Have I mentioned I have a cluttered desk?), or I'd switch activities and forget to record the change over. Anyway, I always gave up by noon at the latest. Sometimes closer to 10:30.
This time I decided to try something new and change my tracking tool. Instead of reaching for my pen and notepad, I did a quick Google search and found a time-tracking tool called Toggl (https://www.toggl.com).
Toggl's basic services, the only ones that really interested me, allowed me to enter a project name and track how long I worked on the project. There was no software to download. When I was ready to go, I entered the project name and clicked start. When I was finished with it, I returned to the Toggl screen, clicked stop, and entered the next project on my agenda. It was so simple, even I couldn't manage to muck it up.
People who want access to more reports and analysis can upgrade their service for $5.00 per month.
A Productivity Surprise!
Toggl not only recorded my time spent on each project, it also provided me with a neat tally of how many hours I had worked each day. I must admit, the total surprised me. I've always thought of myself as a fairly constant worker, but with Toggl to keep me honest, I was amazed at how much time I spent using social media, taking breaks, and even trying to decide which project to work on next.
The first day I tried Toggl, I was horrified to realize that, out of an eight-hour day, I could only account for a little over four hours working on specific projects. Aside from lunch and a couple of breaks--which were necessary--I was spending a lot of time spinning my wheels.
Learning to Improve
By the time I had used Toggl for a week, I realized that my biggest time waster was trying to decide what to do after finishing a project. Now, before I close down for the day, I sit at my desk and make a list of everything I want to accomplish the next day as well as the order I want to accomplish it in.
Sure, there's some wiggle room. If an urgent project with great pay comes through, I'm not going to blow it off because it's not on my schedule. But at least now I have a map to guide me through the day.
As of Monday, Toggl showed that I was averaging more than six hours on projects. I'm hoping to incrase that number through the week.
If you're looking for a simple productivity tool that will help you figure out how you are spending the hours in your day, Toggl is an easy, helpful choice.
For instance, I completed this blog post in 31 minutes and 9 seconds.
How do you keep track of the time you spend on projects?