Under the layers created by productivity, efficiency, effective management of resources and a more Quantified Self, is one fundamental, powerful foundation: time. Often in the pursuit of our more Quantified Selves, we lose track of the wholesome effect that time has on the parameters recorded.
Of course, when we look at the correlation of data collected, we measure it over time. But that is measuring in hindsight and preparing for the future. What if the most effective means to measure productivity was a real time measurement of the time spent in achieving goals?
And that shall be the crux of this article. I’ll be talking about the fundamentals of time tracking, how important it is – specially for an enterprise, and also will be discussing some nifty applications which are adept at tracking time.
EASING INTO THE BASICS: WHAT IS TIME TRACKING?
Time tracking is, simply put, measuring and recording the time that is spent doing particular tasks. The notion of time tracking has been existing ever since the first punch card machine was invented, and it is now a fairly common modus in industries and workplaces to measure the efficiency of the workforce.
Additionally, this notion is now gathering more momentum as an intricate means to measure how much time you spent doing tasks daily. The time tracked is usually through sensors within the smartphones and dedicated applications both on the web and mobile platform, and these tools can give a clear picture of how efficient a person is, thus paving the path for a more Quantified Self.
HOW IS TIME TRACKING USEFUL?
Time is money, as the very clichéd adage puts forth. And tracking time spent doing tasks can quite easily distinguish between which practices are beneficial in terms of time management, and which practices lead to more wasted time. Correlating the data collected from time tracking software and devices with other areas such as project management software, customer support, accounting, resource scheduling and payroll systems can lead to a more quantified workforce, and quite probably better QS.
We talk about lifelogging, which implies keeping a track of all the activities done through the day. But along with the activities, garnering knowledge about the time spent in doing those activities can actually help filter out the unproductive practices from the more productive ones.
When it comes to tracking time for personal activities, Inc. has this nice article which shows just how important the process of tracking time is: mainly for finding out what activities should be taken up more, which activities should be dropped, and which ones have the biggest impact. In essence, this would help in sieving out unproductive tasks from the more useful ones. And let’s admit it, isn’t that the first step towards a more productive lifestyle?
When it comes to tracking time within a workplace, there’s this practice called contemporaneous time tracking – which implies tracking time as one goes along. There’s this insightful article by Tapity which shows the correlation between time and revenue for an organisation. Here’s a visual which should make the point clearer.
Besides, managing time well can also lead to better health habits and a more healthy body. By scheduling times dedicated for sleep, exercise and meditation, while at the same time maintaining a flexible, yet wholesome diet plan, can effectively help in maintaining a more fit lifestyle.
And finally, when it comes to tracking time spent on phone usage, there must be a suitable balance between time spent using specific applications and the phone itself. Spending too much time on the phone can lead to reduced productivity levels, loss of social contact in real life and a smartphone addiction that renders users unable to enjoy life. And eradicating this problem has been the driving motto behind our application Instant and our new application Unplug.
TOOLS TO ENHANCE TIME TRACKING
When it comes to applications and web services that help in tracking time, there are quite a few out there. All of them come with their own set of advantages and special features, but at the end of the day, all of them are focused on one thing: tracking time effectively.
Applications include Reporter, Hours, Jiffy, RescueTime, Toggl, Chronos, ATracker, Eternity, Now Then, My Minutes and Timely, among many, many others. Some of them are even cross platform, such as TrackingTime. You can go over some curated lists here, here and here.
Sometimes the defining factor in developing a productive habit is to track the time spent in doing certain activities. Correlating the time factor along with the work can make the productive and effective habits emerge out, and lead to a more enhanced Quantified Self!
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