In previous posts, we discussed the benefits of implementing a daily time tracking system for individual employees as well as the related benefits for the managers of those employees. But, just understanding the benefits of such a system isn’t the same as knowing how to realize those benefits.
There are many approaches to personal time tracking but, if done improperly, the effort may take time yet fail to yield significant benefits. Here’s a look at some best practices related to effective daily time tracking.
Choose the Right Tool
As with any job, having the right tool is extremely important when it comes to time tracking. “If you want your organization to function as a well-oiled machine, you need to get everyone using the same platform and using it consistently,” says Larry Alton for Inc. “If you have multiple people using multiple tracking methods, everything will get confused and chaotic,” he says. Another key point: select a system that allows others, as appropriate, to have access to the system so they can view time tracking information.
Time tracking data can be very valuable in the aggregate to get a high-level view of how human resources are being deployed in an organization. That won’t be possible, though, unless you have some type of categorization system to allow staff to tag their items.
We recommend coming up with categories of classifications to help with this. For example, note specific types of activities—i.e., “compiled report,” “reviewed contract,” “internal meeting,” “call with customer”—as well as what the activity relates to—i.e., “Customer A,” “Customer X,” “Project ABC,” etc.
When implementing personal time tracking, you don’t need to document everything you do as a discrete, one-off item. Instead, come up with a manageable number of categories for common activities.
For example, instead of saying, “discussed pricing with Customer X,” categorize this as “phone discussion with ‘customer’.” Mark the specific customer in a separate category for easy filtering and grouping.
If you start missing days with your time tracking, the value of the entire system quickly diminishes in value. Consistency is key. Consistency is the routine of tracking your time as well as consistency in your categorizations. Ultimately, to realize the value of tracking time, you’ll want to be able to look back and draw conclusions from the data you’ve gathered.
Keeping track of personal time can become a chore at times, but once employees are able to get into a routine, the benefits will quickly become apparent. It’s a valuable discipline for any profession.