Time is our most precious asset. And yet we scatter it around. Spending time is like investing money. You want to account for what you’re spending it on.
A few months back, I had no idea what I was spending my time on. To set up an experiment, I started tracking everything I did. The insights will surprise you. I’ll share my tips on what works, combined with common time management habits.
Next to some counterintuitive insights I will share with you, I also doubled my productivity by being aware where my time went.
You might think that sounds like a lot of work. But it honestly isn’t. You push a button on your desktop or smartphone, that’s it. And if you leave the tracker on when you’re idle (no mouse of keyboard movement) the tracking is paused.
I’ll give you a step-by-step guide on how to set up time tracking with Toggl.
Why time tracking works so well
Whether you're an entrepreneur, freelancer or employee, it's a good idea to proactively increase your productivity. This way you can achieve your goals faster, whatever your goal is. Anyone with a 'computer job' can do this.
As an entrepreneur I am my own boss. The downside is that I don't have a manager who conducts a performance review with me. So I do that with myself based on this data. On a meta level, this gives me insight into where I can become more productive.
Step-by-step plan on how to track your time, so you know where your time is going
Task usually take longer than expected. You’ll greatly underestimate how long it takes to perform a task. This is called the planning fallacy bias. Even people who know this bias exists, still underestimate the time they need. By tracking your time, you can get an idea of how far off you are :-)
With time tracking, it’s possible to see where you have ‘time-leaks’ and do something about it. The outcome of tracking your time and adjusting based on the data, is that you can get way more done.
In this guide I’ll use the free version of Toggl, but you can use an alternative time-tracking app as well.
#1 Create a free account & install the app on all devices
Create an account on www.toggl.com. You can use the free product to track your time.
Install Toggl on all devices so it becomes easy to do. It's the first step to becoming mega-productive. I recommend installing the native apps, because you will get a notification when you move your mouse/keyboard, but you are not tracking time. This way you get used to the habit of turning time-tracking on every time you start a task.
The desktop app will remind you if you’re not tracking time, but are active on the computer.
- Install the Toggl app on your computer (Windows or Mac)
- Install Toggle on your phone.
- Alternative: Install the Chrome browser plugin