Do you also hate time tracking?

Time tracking has annoyed me in previous jobs. I have objected to use my valuable time to enter hours and minutes into a system. What was the purpose? What use will be made of the data? And why should I spent time on it?

Here are some of the objections to time tracking. Some are my own, others said by customers I teach in personal planning and efficiency:

  • It is difficult
  • It takes time
  • It does not create an extra value
  • I do not know the purpose
  • Control from management
  • I become deadlocked by entering my time in schemes and boxes
  • Hard to keep track of how much time I spent on tasks
  • How should I track time, if I am interrupted all the time?
  • How should I keep track of time, when I shift between tasks?
  • How should I track time, when a customer calls me and says “it will only take 10 minutes"?
  • Maybe you can add more yourself?

What benefits do you get from tracking time?

Reality is seldom black and white, and usually there are pros and cons about everything. Let it be said: Time tracking should not be made only for time tracking’s sake!

The purpose should be clear to anyone. If it is not the case in the organisation where you work, it is appropriate to question this.

Over time I have changed my mind. Especially, when I started tracking my time in a system that gave me valuable information. That is why my con list now consists of the following points:

  • Provides a more realistic overview of what I spent my time on
  • Makes it possible to show that things actually take time
  • And that people take time. Maybe you are one of the employees who are interrupted several times a day, which makes it difficult to manage your tasks?
  • Makes it possible to make more precise offers in the future
  • Makes it possible to plan enough time for projects in the future
  • Makes a higher billing rate possible when the real time spent on projects/customers is tracked
  • Attention to patterns and work routines; e.g. multitasking and procrastination
  • Helps keeping you within the budget, if it is a fixed-price task
  • Helps you focus on the task you are working on

Are you still in doubt?

I have asked TimeLog to make a list of the many benefits seen from an employee’s point of view. And I must say that I am overwhelmed! In a good way. Here they are:

Benefits of time tracking – from an employee’s point of view

  • You can keep track of your vacation and sick leave
  • You can use time tracking proactively in your staff development interview and monthly interviews with actions plans based on actual data
  • You can get an overview of the most important project recently, and if tasks have pushed deadlines on other projects
  • Your time tracking may indicate a change in course of direction, because you perform other tasks than what you were hired to. This provides breeding ground for development within the company
  • Gives you an opportunity to show your manager if you perform other tasks than agreed upon, and if you need to be exempted from further tasks, or if your job needs to be redefined
  • Heightened awareness and more focus on prioritising work tasks
  • Better ability to estimate projects before they are started
  • Significantly less projects where time could have been spent in a better way
  • If you have flexible working hours, it is easy to keep track of it with a time tracking system. Then you can avoid discussion about the flex balance
  • It typically takes three minutes per day to track and hand in time trackings once you get used to it
  • If you are a consultant, you can see how much money you have made any given day, and that motivates. You can see the revenue produced in the current month across fixed-price projects, task on time and material, vouchers etc., and you know “when have I reached this month’s budget” 
  • If time tracking is used to follow the progress of the project value, it is an advantage when you afterwards evaluate and improve processes and together look at profitability on the projects
  • Get an overview of what you spent your time on. When a customer calls and asks about last month's project, when the colleague asks for help to his or her project, when the CEO stops by to get an update… All the unforeseen happenings that happens every day and maybe result in wasted time, are possible to track
  • Track time as it fits you best. With seven different ways of tracking time, you can choose how and when it is best for you


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Trine Kolding
Expert in planning and coach in time management, Trine Kolding

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