I went into 2019 with a lot of plates in the air, and a lot of change, having joined Mac Power Users. My schedule felt chaotic, so I restarted time tracking, something I haven’t done since 2015 when I first went independent with Relay FM.
My app of choice for this has been Toggl, but the tools aren’t the point; knowing how your time is spent is.
My friend Quinn Rose has been going though something similar, as she recently wrote:
Since I actually know how long tasks take me, I’m better at planning my days. Noticing where I was productive and where tracking dropped off helped me realize that I’m not very productive in the evening, so now I exercise after work instead of before, which increases my overall productive time and helps me get to the gym more consistently. Also, instead of wildly overestimating my ability to get things done, I’m checking off my full to-do list more days than not. I’m actually filling a work day and understanding when is best to be productive, instead of trying to “power through” a task even when I’m uninspired and distracted.
One thing I have noticed, even a few weeks in, is that my work feels more focused. I have a tendency to hop around from one task to another to another, sometimes in rapid succession. When I have to start and stop timers, it makes me settle into a specific task for longer, and I think that’s better for my brain, despite it being a little unnatural still. There’s a lot to this, and I’m still learning, but it’s been interesting. Here’s Quinn again:
Some time tracking tools automatically track what you do on your computer, which would certainly be even more accurate than the program I’m using now. However, even though Toggl can’t tell if I’m on Twitter, the timer forces me to actively choose to work or not work. If that timer is running but I’m on Instagram, I know that I’m cheating. It’s a neat psychological tool for holding myself accountable.
While I’m just a few weeks into this new habit, I am already reaping benefits from it. If you feel overwhelmed or overworked, having real data can help you make better decisions, and that is never a bad thing.