Where does the time go?

Are you one of those people who is saying ‘How can it be the middle of January already’ or even, as more than one person has said to me this week, ‘What do you mean it’s 2014’? Both comments are an indication of how fast time flies. However they could also indicate that we are not really in control of our time.

Controlling our time starts with understanding how we use it and I’ve just come across a great free tool that can help. The tool is www.toggl.com.

Let me introduce you to Toggl…

So that's where my morning went!

So that’s where my morning went!

Toggl allows you to record how you spend your time,down to the second! You can either enter the data manually or set the timer to record how long you spend on a task. You can programme and colour code the system for specific projects and clients so that you can track exactly where your time has gone.

There are some more sophisticated tools in the paid for version at $5 per user per month but the free version may well have enough functionality for most SME owners.

I particularly like the pie charts that the system produces to show you how you’ve used your time. These are really useful for tracking how effectively we manage our time and if we know how we spend it we can make changes if necessary. As I’ve said before, ‘what gets measured improves’.

Potential uses for Toggl…

I’m new to this tool but I’m quite excited by its possibilities. Here are a few:

  • Time recording by customer and project will ensure you can bill the correct amount (with the paid for version there is compatibility with a number of other tools including some invoicing packages).
  • Keeping a record of past projects should help when it comes to estimating how long a new job will take when it comes to quoting.
  • Understanding how long a task really takes will allow us to plan our future time more effectively.
  • The ability to drill down into our use of time will allow us to work out if tasks are cost effective. We’ll also be able to identify tasks we could delegate and how much time to allow for delegated tasks.
  • Seeing how much time we spend on Twitter, Facebook or TV might just break us of the habit!
  • We should be able to see how well balanced our time is. Do we have enough family or ‘me’ time? How much exercise have we done? Are we spending enough time working on our businesses rather than just working in them?

Over the years I have use diaries, Excel Spreadsheets and other tools to try to get a grip on how I use my time but this is probably the best tool yet. By colour coding similar tasks it is easy to see, at a glance, where the time went. I think it’s time that I got down to something that is colour coded paid work! And no I am not on commission from Toggl so I’m not getting paid for writing this.

Why not give it a go and then let us know whether or not you find it useful?

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