Being able to track time is maybe one of the biggest challenges we have to face daily. Why is it so hard to manage time in both professional and personal life? Well, probably because time itself is beyond our control.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that we shouldn’t strive to have complete focus on important stuff we have to get done. Because time management and productivity come to just that at the end of the day – to achieve your end goal.
There are many productivity methods, from a simple to-do list to time-tracking tools, that can help us get better at managing time, but they’re in so much contrast with the time management myths we continuously face.
Time management can make all the difference in your present life as well as the future. It is especially important for your professional efficiency whether you’re a freelancer or own a business.
Additionally, with effective time management, you will be able to focus, organize, and realize how much time you spend on one project. Knowing how you spend your time will give you the opportunity to see where you can improve your productivity.
In this article, I’ll help you do a reality check where you’ll get a better perception of the time management myths that could be stopping you from improving productivity.
What is time tracking?
Time tracking refers to recording the hours employees work. The tracking can be done on paper or digitally.
So, why is employee time tracking important? Well, aside from it being a legal obligation in some countries like the USA and Canada, time tracking is important because it helps both employees and employers keep track of how much time is spent working and on which specific activities and tasks.
This being said, keeping track of how you spend your time and overseeing your time management can help you improve your productivity and efficiency. Aside from that, it might provide you with insights that will help you be more productive and find time gaps in your schedule to do extra work.
Effective time management is a great benefit to everyone, but let’s take a closer look at some aspects, which are the following:
- Time allocation – Time tracking will allow you to understand how you spend your time and what consumes the most of it. Knowing this, you will be able to identify areas where you could optimize and even free up more time for the most important tasks.
- Productivity – Understanding your time usage will help you manage your time better. Therefore, your decision-making process will be eased with task prioritization and workflow management, leading to improved productivity.
- Project management – Time tracking is very important, especially for project-based work. It can help you estimate project timelines, keep your schedule in check, organize the resources, and manage to meet deadlines.
- Personal accountability – As a person, being accountable for your time will only lead you to disciplined work habits and spending your hours effectively. And you guessed it – time tracking can get you there.
- Accurate billing – Whether you’re a freelancer, employee, or business, using a time-tracking tool will allow you to do accurate and transparent billing for your working hours. Doing this will lead to building trust and credibility in the eyes of your client.
- Performance evaluation – Time tracking helps with assessing employee performance. It gives you the insights to allocate tasks effectively and get a better idea of the training needs for yourself as an individual as well as for employees if you own a business.
Common time management myths and misconceptions
“Time tracking leads to overwork” – a typical time management myth is just the first one that popped into my head. This common myth just isn’t true, and I’ll tell you why.
There is a stigma among employees when it comes to tracking time because they feel monitored all the time to the point where they might feel “anxiety” about taking a break or going to the bathroom. It’s like they feel pressure and tend to spend less time away from their desk.
The point of using time tracking is the exact opposite of what I just said, so let me get into some common time management myths and elaborate on why they’re nothing more than just that – a myth.
Let outer events control your day
Making an outer event a priority will result in you giving up control. In reality, if you decide to get distracted from your to-do list by an external event, it will affect your workflow for the day and how much you get done.
The truth is you can’t control everything, implying that some accidents can happen that are totally out of your control and will need your energy as well as some extra time. With this in mind, for better time management, you need to build in time in your time-tracking tool for the unexpected.
This way, even if something happens, you will be able to utilize the time to the best ability, and therefore, you will be safe from the aspect of time spent working.
Do not dictate limits
Work-life balance is very important for our mental health. For context, numerous influential people and blogs have spoken about the magic word “no” when it comes to effective time management. You might feel the obligation to say yes to every project or client, even if it won’t be in your best interest, which is why you should have boundaries.
You need to adapt your behavior to please yourself first before you do it for others. This way, you will have more time and better productivity. So remember always to respect your time and value because when you treat yourself this way, you’re setting an example for others.
Everything is a priority
If you have more responsibilities, it might be impossible to take the time and manage one task at a time. This is where the importance of time management lies. You need to take time to plan and organize your tasks because it will ease your workflow in the long run.
Whether you’ll do it with tools such as online calendars or writing simple to-do lists – it will be effective time management. This concept will help you get the important work done as well as all the other tasks, making you more productive as a person.
If you want to be successful, you need to be fond of the idea of planning your tasks throughout the week effectively and see for yourself how it saves time.
Commit to every task yourself
Another one of the common myths is that you have to commit to every task there is. I know it sounds brave to take on all of the tasks that are available, but the bottom line is – you shouldn’t.
For example, if you own a business, even if one of your colleagues needs more hours or the same amount to complete a certain task – let them do it because they’ll get experience while you get time to focus on something else or simply take a break and rest.
You need to delegate the tasks because it will give you freedom. By distributing the tasks, you will unlock a wellspring of being productive.
Achieve perfection wherever and whenever possible
Aim for perfection is another myth that will keep a step behind being successful. You’ll lose focus on the big picture, and you will need to reconsider your approach to everyday tasks.
Always aim to have the sense to do an excellent job, but don’t revise your work often because you’ll probably notice something every time you do so, and you’ll keep changing it forever.
Complete each task no matter how long it takes
This myth is another misconception of not having a schedule for your tasks. To maintain better time management, you need to go through your to-do list and analyze the amount of time every task would take you, then update your schedule accordingly.
If some tasks take longer, simply split them into smaller ones and then handle them. Not only will this be way less overwhelming for you, but it will be much easier to execute rather than taking on a whole project all at once.
Routines will block your creativity
I have to say, the situation here is exactly the opposite. Balancing structured work with dedicated downtime will boost your energy and productivity. So feel free to add activities outside of work to your calendar because it’s very healthy to look forward to things other than just work.
Always find activities you can turn into routines because they will keep you motivated, and when it comes to work, motivation is key in the long run.
Save the hardest tasks for the last
It comes very naturally to us to delay the daunting tasks, but this almost always backfires at the end of the day. I know it can be challenging to start your morning with the hardest task, but if something requires more attention and focus, get to it while you’re well-rested at the beginning of your day.
Nothing feels better than crossing off the most challenging things from our to-do lists!
Common time-tracking myths
Since time management is the key to productivity, time tracking is a critical tool to help you understand how your workplace functions. On the contrary, there are some time-tracking myths that disagree with this, so let’s take a look at a few and see why they’re just myths.
Time tracking is expensive
This is not necessarily true because, depending on your needs, there are tools that are pretty cheap. For context, you can use tools like TimeCamp, Clockify, Deputy, My Hours, and TrackingTime, which are more affordable options with subscriptions around $5 per month.
As I already mentioned, in some countries, time tracking is a legal obligation, so one way or another, you’ll have to find a way to do it. If you own a business, tracking time manually will be time-consuming because you’ll have to overlook self-reports, calculate their time, use a formula for the final cost, etc.
On the other hand, using a tool for this will optimize this process for you. The only thing to do is set the metrics, feed the tool with the correct data, and watch the reports. The tools are pretty easy and intuitive to learn, so you won’t have to spend time or resources to teach the employees how to use them.
Employers use time trackers because they don’t trust their employees
The main purpose of time trackers is to help you have better time management. This being said, it’s not only good for tracking employees, but it’s also useful for project tracking and schedule organization as well.
Like the employees, the employers use tracking tools as well because they need to track their own hours and activities for better prioritization. So it’s not for surveillance only, it’s a digital planner for the whole organization!
Tracking employees invades their privacy
The main concern among employees is the security of time-tracking tools from a legal aspect. But the thing is that employers have the legal authority to monitor and track the activities to make sure everyone within the organization is doing their job properly.
And if someone has problems, it will be obvious in the data, so whoever supervises them they will be able to offer them help with the struggles on the tasks they’re working on.
From the privacy and security aspect, the software manufacturers include features to prevent leaks of sensitive data by disabling screenshots or keylogging. This way, the confidential information is safe, and there is no need to worry about anything.
Paper timesheets are equally good as time-tracking tools
Well, they’re not because you can easily lose or damage a piece of paper. In contrast, it’s much harder to do so with a virtual log because often it’s backed up on the cloud.
Another thing to note is that writing by hand easily opens the window to error because employees are more likely to make mistakes by rounding hours or not paying appropriate attention to the time they’ve spent working on a task.
The last thing worth mentioning is that employees can benefit from time accuracy. For example, if someone works 20 minutes overtime, they’ll probably leave that time out of the paper timesheet. But that’s not the case with time tracking tools because they ensure the employee is paid accordingly for every minute of work.
What are the benefits of time management?
Effective time management can enhance productivity as well as improve accountability and work-life balance while sharpening the focus of everyone within an organization.
Should you time-track your employees?
If implemented respectfully and transparently, time tracking can be a great benefit to your business because it offers insight that you can use to streamline the workflows and improve the accountability of your whole business.
How do employees feel about time tracking?
The employee perspective on this topic varies, ranging from skepticism to appreciation for clarity and valuable insights time tracking provides.
Is time tracking good for employees?
The practice of time tracking can enhance the efficiency and well-being of employees, but it needs to be done respectfully so that they’ll feel safe and appreciated for the work they’re doing.