6 helpful time tracking tips to help you maximize revenue

Amanda Dykstra • August 17

Why is time tracking so dang hard? Trying to remember what you worked on is like trying to remember where you hid the Christmas presents you bought back in July. Where the heck are they!?

Time tracking sucks for a lot of reasons. It’s an administrative pain. If you work for someone else, it doesn’t feel like you get any benefit from doing your timesheets. Tracking time also takes up a lot of time. It’s just not fun. I'd rather clean my bathroom than do timesheets!

Tracking your time is a job that distracts you from your actual job. It’s impossible to remember to hit the “start” (and “stop”) button EVERY time you switch between projects. You can try time blocking so you’re not distracted by other tasks, emails, or office mates. But how often do you actually stick to your blocked schedule? Then, when you go to do your timesheet, your data is skewed and you have no idea how you spent your time. Guesstimating what you did is frustrating, time consuming, and leaves out a lot of the work you did. You miss billable hours and you don’t show your total value to your boss.

Tracking what you’re working on can be a bigger hassle than doing the actual project work.

Why is time tracking important?

Time tracking is important because it helps you grow your business. Knowing how much time you spend on a project helps you determine if that project was profitable. You can see if a project took longer than you expected. If you’re billing by project you can negotiate a revised price with the client. Additionally, you can drop unprofitable clients.

You can give better estimates on future projects by knowing how long past projects took. It also helps you identify areas where you need to be more efficient. Maybe the project took longer than you thought because of a lack of knowledge or resources. Accurate estimates also help you determine if you have the time to take on new projects.

Additionally, accurate time reporting builds trust and transparency between you and your client. Clients feel confident that you’re not overbilling them. You are paid for all the work you’re doing. Plus, it helps when a client has questions about an invoice.

Lastly, time tracking helps you be more aware of distractions. Maybe you find that you spend an hour each day browsing the internet mindlessly. You could also find that you’re spending a lot of time each day on tasks that could be easily automated. Time tracking gives you the information to optimize your day.

Time tracking tips and best practices

Implementing time tracking into your routine can be challenging. It’s important to find a system that works for you so you can be as consistent as possible in how you track time. Read on for the best tips and practices to make manual time tracking as painless as possible!

Do your timesheets every day

Do you remember what you ate for breakfast yesterday? Unless you eat the same thing every day, you probably don’t. It’s a whole lot easier to remember what you did earlier today than remembering what you did yesterday, last week, or last month. If you wait until the end of the week (or month) to complete your timesheets, they will take longer, and they’ll be inaccurate.

Doing your timesheets every day also makes procrastination a lot harder. The longer you wait to do your timesheets, the harder they are to do and the more you will want to put them off. If you get into the habit of doing them every day, they won’t feel like such a big deal.

Time blocking

If you know what projects you’re going to be working on, schedule them into your calendar. Then when you do your timesheets, your calendar will help you remember what you worked on. Time blocking takes a bit of planning, but it will help keep your days more organized and efficient.

Time blocking will also help you get more done because you’ll be less likely to get sidetracked by things that pop up. Of course, sometimes your day doesn’t end up the way you planned. So if you end up working on something else, make sure you edit your calendar!

Set up reminders

Until time tracking becomes a normal part of your routine, you might simply forget to do it. It’s a good idea to set up reminders or block time in your calendar reminding you to complete your timesheets. One of the best ways is to set a reminder on your phone. That way, every time you get a notification, you’ll remember to log your hours. You can also leave yourself a note somewhere that you’ll see every day, like on your computer or desk.

Create a new time tracking habit

Create a new time tracking habit by setting up a system to reward yourself when you remember to track your time. Katelyn Bourgoin (@katebour on twitter) gives this advice for creating a new habit: pair something you should do with something you want to do. If you want to go to happy hour, but you should do your timesheets, reward yourself with happy hour once you’ve completed your timesheets.

Write it down

Another helpful tip is to keep a running tally of how you’re spending your time each day. At the end of each hour, take a minute to jot down what you’ve been doing. Or get in the habit of writing down the time you start a project, and the time you stop. This way you can ensure that you don’t lose track of how much time you’ve actually spent on the project. Then when it’s time to do your timesheets, you’ll have a record of what you worked on to help jog your memory.

Don’t multitask

If you’re trying to do multiple things at once, it’s going to be even harder to keep track of your time. Focus your attention on one task at a time, and turn off notifications so you don’t get sidetracked. A helpful tip to avoid multitasking is to set priorities. Before you start your day, take a few minutes to sit down and figure out what tasks are most important.

This practice can be challenging because it’s super hard not to be distracted. Set yourself to “away” on internal messaging systems to help maintain focus. If you work in an office, you could set up a sign system that indicates that you are trying to focus. Many offices use red, yellow, and green signs to indicate “don’t bother me right now,” “only talk to me if it’s important”, and “I’m free to chat.”

Or, try automatic time tracking

We’ve taken these tips and best practices into consideration when creating Clockk. With Clockk, each tip is easier than ever to implement or completely irrelevant. The goal was to take care of all the tedious aspects of time tracking so you can focus on more important things — like doing your work!

Clockk automatically tracks your work and separates it by project. Easily do your timesheets by logging in at the end of the day, verify what Clockk tracked, and hit save! You will get daily emails when your time is tracked, reminding you to confirm your timesheets.

With Clockk, you don’t need to block time, avoid multitasking, or write down how you’re spending your time. Stay fully present in your work without having to stop what you’re working on to edit your calendar or write it down. Jump from project to project, and Clockk will help you bill your time accurately!

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