Sep 23, 2013

Time Tracking

It all began two weeks ago when I started working on a really interesting design & coding freelance project outside of Viralica's working hours.

I charged a fixed fee for this project, so I thoroughly estimated all the tasks that needed to be done and what where the possible contingencies before calculating the fee.

Although I'm not paid by the hour, I decided to track how many hours I put on the freelance work to check if my estimates were correct and at the end of the job I didn't end putting more hours than I thought.

I could have tracked my time on a paper sheet or on a Google Docs Spreadsheet but I wanted an easy-to-use time tracking app with an integrated stopwatch. Doing a little research I found Harvest, a really neat app with a free plan and a simple User Interface.

After using this app for two weeks I noticed it brought me some amazing benefits besides what I intended in the first place — just measuring time and getting the total hours at the end of the project.

Time tracking helped me avoid multitasking. I noticed that when the stopwatch starts ticking I focus just on the task that I started tracking. It's amazing how I keep off email, news sites, Facebook or Twitter and how I avoid mixing smaller tasks that emerge which otherwise I would.

Time tracking made me aware of how I spend my time. Ever since I track time I perceived that I hate if I'm wasting the time that is being measured. I make sure every minute counts.

Time tracking helped me prioritize tasks. Before tracking time I wouldn't notice how much time I spent on unimportant tasks. Usually, less important tasks took me more time and made me procastinate much more on important stuff that usually took less time.

After seeing those benefits I decided to track not only my freelance hours but also the time I dedicate to my startup. Now I know how I spend my day and how many real hours I put in.

I know it may be difficult to keep using the app and tracking my time in the long run, but I will try to keep it simple and make it a routine.

Cutting Back Hours

I think that you can start cutting back hours — or maybe days — from your job only when have a good knowledge of how you spend your time and how much quality time you put into it.

Lots of people would be surprised of how many little hours they really work in their 9 to 5 job. Start tracking your time and see. Be honest, and if you find out that you really work only 4 hours and you still get great results, it's pointless to push it and try to do more stuff in the other 4. David Heinemeier Hansson once said:

"Secret to productivity is not finding more time to do more stuff, but finding the strength to do less of the stuff that doesn't need doing."

Nowadays, we know how much money we have in the bank account, how much we want to save to buy stuff, how much money we spend per month, what salary we would love to have next year but we don't have a remote clue of how much time we really dedicate to our job, how much time we put on activities we love or how much time we spend with the people we care.

I don't wan't to be on a standard 9 to 5 routine my whole life until retirement. Time is now, and we only have 24 hours a day so we must be really conscious on how we spend it.

I'm completely sure that people would be a million times happier if they spend the same energy they spend managing money, managing time.

BTW, Writing this blogpost took me 2.5 hours

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