How to Greatly Improve Productivity by Tracking Your Time with Toggl
This post has been adapted from the original entry from the member-exclusive Evolution Weekly on March 7, 2016. Sign up today and get entries like this sent directly to your inbox!
Do you ever ask yourself, "How much time am I really spending on this?
'This,' of course could be anything. 'This' could be work. 'This' could be a hobby. 'This' could be your health.
I noticed recently that I don't personally keep 'this' in mind throughout my week. I never really thought to track what I was doing. I had tasks and I had goals. I did them and kept moving. As a work junkie, I am at least aware that the time I spend on certain tasks is probably exorbitant, but I don't know how much.
Do you see the problem here? Without knowing how much time I've dedicated to each task, there's no way of evaluating how productive I was or what tasks I could spend less time on.
This recent discovery has made me think twice about whether or not I should re-evaluate my process.
As part of my blogging, I've been experimenting with a lot of different apps and programs to help make my process more streamlined. Some of the things I try are cool, but don't quite live up to what they offer. Others live up to everything, but don't really work for my life specifically. Fortunately, toggl, seems to do pretty much everything. And it does everything very well.
SO, WHAT IS TOGGL?
Simply put, toggl is software that allows you to actively track the time you spend on a given task or project. While meant for businesses as a way to track time spent against a project for billing and efficiency purposes, I recommend you use it for yourself to self audit your life.
HOW TOGGL MAKES YOU MORE PRODUCTIVE
When it comes to using toggl day-to-day, there are 4 major areas it excels in:
1 | SIMPLE INTERFACE
toggl has a very slick, minimalist interface that provides a wealth of tracking information without getting overly busy. Because of its simple interface, toggl is also extremely user friendly.
Other than the initial setup to create projects I can track my time expenditure against, you spend very little time getting the process going. All you have to do is click a 'play' button, add a brief description of the specific task, and connect that task back to a larger project. Once you're done with a task, click the 'stop' button and your task has been logged.
2 | TRACK EVERYWHERE
Similar to the way that, say Dropbox, allows you to connect your account across all devices, toggl gives you the flexibility of running its tracking software online, from your desktop, or on your phone/tablet. The ability to track my specific tasks from all vantage points has made it extremely easy to adjust how I track and keep me motivated to track at all.
If I'm working on my iPad (as I am typing this post to you), I can use toggl to track how long it takes to write. If I'm at the gym, I can use my phone to track how long I work out. If, however, I was only able to log in using my laptop, I don't know if I'd get as much out of this process as I have.
3 | REPORT GENERATION
So, like many things, you only really get out toggl what you put into it. If you don't track your time consistently, you won't be able to tell where your time sinks are. If you do, you'll be able to see the time you've logged from a number of different vantage points (graphs, charts, lists) that you can keep track of over larger windows of time.
As more information is input, I can pick and choose what to move my time to. I gain freedom through the process of tracking.
4 | POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT
The Achievement System is one of my favorite features of toggl. In a way similar to that of Fitness Trackers, toggl has a series of Achievements that you can unlock once you've completed something significant. When you've hit the mark as described, you get a notification that you've unlocked an achievement.
This positive reinforcement gets me fired up to keep tracking. It may seem like a minor feature, but the Achievements give me the motivation to keep tracking in moments when I might otherwise have given up.
WHAT TO TRACK
My guess is that you already have a way to track your time at work, so don't worry about that for now. Instead give toggl a try and use it to track things that you actively have to choose to do in your personal life. In my own system, I don't track things like dinner, take Dexter (my amazing Goldendoodle) outside, etc. that are basically givens. Instead, I created project categories for things like Blog, Fitness, Newsletter, Life, AIA, and Social Media.
In the end, you'll have your own categories that work for you. They may look nothing like mine, but that's the thing - you need a process that works for your own life in order to maximize your personal productivity.
LESSON FOR THE WEEK
Take a moment this week to consider tracking your personal time. Try out toggl (it's free by the way) and see if tracking the way you live motivates you to live a better life. It did for me.
Whether it's with toggl, some other software, or a pen and paper, you can take control of your own time by tracking how you use it.