Time tracking can be life changing. And, even though it’s really, really easy to do, it does take a tiny bit of discipline. Unfortunately, like budgeting, this tiny barrier is enough to prevent just about everyone from doing it. Fine. Your loss, but whatever.
Here’s an alternative: for one day, pretend you’re a professional who bills by the hour. If you hate lawyers, pretend to be a tutor, or a photoshop wizard, or a psychiatrist. Wait, actually not a psychiatrist; those guys think there’s 50 minutes in an hour.
Most lawyers bill in 1/10th hour increments. That means every six minutes you work on something gets marked down.
For one day, do this.
It doesn’t matter what kind of work you do. If you have to file a bunch of shit, glance at your watch, file away, and glance at your watch again when you’re done. If it took you ten minutes, jot down “File xx: .2”. If you have to research something and it takes you 4 hours, do the same thing. Be conscious of the little breaks you take though: you don’t get to count all the bathroom breaks and fantasy football trashtalk and internet surfing time towards your total.
This is guaranteed to do three things:
First, almost no one realizes how little work actually gets done each day between the bathroom breaks and fantasy football trashtalk and internet surfing. Keeping track of your time like this, even for just one day, should be eye-opening.
Second, your production value will go way up. Your wasted time will drop dramatically.
Third, you’ll have ammunition for a raise or whatever else you want. If you know exactly how your day is spent, to the 1/10th of an hour, you can demonstrate what a waste of time that part of your job you hate is, or how valuable you are since you can do that thing you’re good at faster than anyone else. This kind of data can get dumber or less observant or overwhelmed bosses the factual backing necessary to give you more responsibility, more money, or whatever it is you’re looking for.
And if I’m wrong about everything, you’ve wasted about 3 minutes of one day of your life. Is that tiny barrier really going to keep you from finding out for yourself?