One of my current projects is to more effectively track my time. While I keep decent track of the time I spend on clients’ projects, I’m not so good about watching my own time. After all, there’s less of a financial incentive at play.
The question of that financial incentive is part of the problem, though: since I’m building more projects without a client paying directly for more time, I need to know if I’m making a good investment of my minutes and hours. Tracking this time requires a mental shift. But I’m already seeing the value of even the small amount of data I’ve already collected.
Beyond the matter of mindset, the biggest difficulty is actually remembering to switch on a timer or another tracking device. I’ve had to resort to sticky notes and other visual reminders that ask if I’m tracking my time. It’s like developing a little bit of OCD on purpose. Once the habit is in place, time-tracking does get easier.
In fact, I expect that part of my work to get dramatically easier over the next few years. I can already track the websites I spend my time on with RescueTime; if I could see the particular page (like what email folder I’m spending the most time in) I might be able to translate that data into effective time-tracking pretty easily.