Efficient time management has become more important than ever in the world we live in today. Whether you’re a freelancer, a professional, a team manager, or an individual that just wants to manage their time better, the question of which method to go for time tracking your work hours can be daunting.
So, should you stick to traditional manual time-tracking methods, or should you embrace the convenience and automation offered by time-tracking software?
Well, let me guide you through this decision-making process by giving you all the information you need on time-tracking.
Key Controversy: Automatic Time Tracking vs Manual Methods
Time management and productivity is a longstanding debate among professionals, managers, and freelancers. One famous dilemma is the choice between the two types of time trackers: manual and automatic time tracking.
Both approaches have their pros and cons, but you need to consider many things before making a choice because it can significantly impact the way you manage your time. So let’s see what differentiates automatic time tracking vs manual methods
Automatic Time Tracking
Automatic time tracking has emerged as an amazing thing in the digital age, promising to revolutionize the way we monitor and manage our working time. The method involves using specialized software that tracks our activities, applications, and breaks in real time, absolutely eliminating the need for manual input.
With the ability to track and capture every minute of a workday, like emails, meetings, and project work, automatic time tracking gives you a comprehensive view of your time and how you spend it.
Automatic time tracking is effortless for the users. For context, you don’t have the burden to manually log your hours or remember to manage timers (to start them and stop them). The software works in the background and records your actions while generating accurate timesheets and time-tracking data that reflect how much time you dedicate to your different work activities.
Benefits of Automatic Time Tracking
One of the primary benefits of automatic time tracking is its ability to capture data that would go unnoticed in manual methods. I’m talking about activities like reading and responding to emails, going through applications, and even short breaks are accounted for.
This can give you a whole view of your work habits. You can use the time data to identify time-wasting activities, optimize your workflow and prioritize tasks effectively.
Moreover, automatic time tracking minimizes the risk of human error. When using manual time-tracking methods, even the most diligent people can make mistakes when putting in hours or toggling timers.
Depending on your field, these inaccuracies can lead to a series of unwanted events that will harm your career and productivity. With automatic tracking, precision is a given, and you can be certain that the record of your working hours is legit and a real reflection of your work effort.
Manual Time Tracking
Unlike automatic tracking, manual time tracking has been around for decades. The approach is simple – individuals must manually record their working hours, tasks, and activities using manual timesheets, digital or paper.
As you go through your day, you track everything you’re doing, and you can populate the manual timesheet as you execute tasks or once you’re finished working.
Even if it demands effort and diligence, many find manual time-tracking comforting because it offers a sense of control and familiarity.
One big advantage of manual tracking is the versatility it comes with. Without an issue, it can be adapted to many businesses from different industries with different work styles. So, whoever is using it can tailor their tracking time approach to their preference.
Not to let it slide unmentioned, many have found manual time tracking as a mindfulness exercise, where you can experiment with allocating time and trying different perspectives in your day of work.
Main Troubles with Manual Employee Time Tracking and Reasons Behind Them
Manual time tracking, despite having a significant role for time tracking in business processes, has its fair share of challenges. Even if it comes off as straightforward, there are several things about this method that can lead to inaccuracies, inefficiencies, and even frustration for both employees and managers.
So let me elaborate on some important factors you should be aware of before you consider using manual time tracking.
Manual tracking of employee working hours increases the workload
Manual time tracking requires employees to carefully record their working hours, tasks, and activities using manual timesheets. This process adds an extra layer of administrative work that can become an additional burden to the employees.
The challenge with it is that employees (in-office or remote workers) must remember to log their hours accurately and frequently switch between tasks and timesheets so they actually deliver an error-free manual timesheet.
As a result of this, their workflow increases, and it’s actually taking time away from their primary responsibilities ending up in decreased productivity.
Inaccurate work time calculations lead to payroll issues
Relying on traditional time tracking increases the likelihood of errors in time cards. Employees may unintentionally misreport their time entries, tasks or make calculation mistakes while transferring data to digital formats.
Since we all know these inaccuracies can happen, we know their consequences as well. Wrong time tracking data can impact the payroll processes, disputes between employees and managers, and even additional administrative efforts to clear the conflicts.
Employees are bad at filling out paper timesheets
Doing time entry on paper sheets is a repetitive task that automatically comes off as time-consuming and tiresome. Which I can say for sure can make people unenthusiastic about completing their time tracking sheets accurately.
This can lead to incomplete or inconsistent data, which can make it difficult for managers to obtain a comprehensive overview of how employees spend their working hours.
Time theft affects business and can be costly
A manual time tracking system is a bit more susceptible to time theft, where employees can take advantage and inflate their reports to get a higher paycheck.
Moreover, we can’t deny the practices like “buddy punching,” where one team member will do time entry for another, which results in an inaccurate attendance record and payment. This could also affect the overall team performance.
How to Find the Balance and Track Time Effortlessly
Tracking time doesn’t have to be a headache. On the contrary, it can become an effortless part of your workday where you don’t even notice it. To have this, you only need the right approach.
So let me give you some things to think about that will save hours and ease your approach to finding balance and tracking time without any effort.
Type of software
In the world of time tracking, there is different software available for different businesses. There are many options, and each can satisfy different preferences and specific needs.
Some popular choices, such as HourStack, RescueTime, and TimeCamp, offer intuitive features and user-friendly interfaces, making time tracking as easy as it can get.
But let me give you more context on different software suitable for different businesses.
As I said, it’s important to look into all the options before finding what will best suit your business. For example, if you want a hands-off approach or automatic time tracking RescueTime will come in handy for you. It can track the applications users use, the websites they visit, and the tasks they engage with throughout their day.
Automatic trackers can give you a comprehensive overview of work habits and what you do on your computer. With an automated time-tracking system, you can identify time wasters and new opportunities to optimize your time better.
Manual time entry is the traditional method that is often used by freelancers and professionals who prefer a deliberate approach. For this purpose, there are tools like Toggl Track and Clockify, which allow you to do time entries manually. It gives you control and mindfulness as you actively record your work on different projects and tasks.
If you need a project-centric time-tracking system, then you could use a tool like HourStack. This tool is excellent for project managers and teams that work on multiple projects simultaneously. Using project-centric time tracking can help you distribute your resources better and meet the deadliness.
Moreover, there’s software best suited for employee monitoring. If this is something that you need, then you should consider Deputy as it enables managers to monitor employees by having insights on their attendance, breaks, and task progress. Also, these time trackers can take random screenshots of the screens of their users, giving managers more comprehensive insight into how individual employee is spending their time.
There’s software for productivity insights as well. A good match here would be TrackingTime which has the ability to provide analytics and reports to help you understand how much time you spend on tasks and how you can improve your workflow.
Flexibility and integration
When choosing a time tracker, it’s important to look for a time tracking system that will be flexible and adjustable in order to meet your needs. Be mindful to choose a time tracker that has integration capabilities because that’s very important.
Tools that can sync with your existing productivity apps will simplify your workflow. Therefore, time tracking won’t feel like a separate task, but it will just become part of your work routine.
So always make sure that flexibility and integration are part of your time tracker.
Transparency and trust
Transparency and trust are the columns of every successful team. Tracked time data can create an environment of openness between employees and employers. This can boost team productivity because it will help team members understand how every individual is spending their time.
It can lead to informed decision-making on task prioritization while employees have control over their own time. Moreover, you can boost team productivity with psychological safety and autonomy in controlling the amount of time spent on each project.
Why It’s High Time to Use a Time Tracker
You might be wondering why you should consider using a time tracker, so let me clear your doubts.
The debate between automatic and manual time-tracking is still popular among professionals and organizations alike. With the advanced technology and based on the different types of software I discussed above – the decision should be pretty clear if you know what your business needs. So always make sure the method you choose aligns with your work style.
Another important thing is that we live in a world where every second counts and precision in a time tracker is essential. So digital technologies have not only given rise to automation, they’ve also shown the need for accuracy in time data. Using its advantages, you will get a better work-life balance.
Time trackers are not all about time records. It can give you valuable insights and accuracy into your work habits, you can find patterns, inefficiencies, and opportunities where to allocate your focus and resources.
This can be very helpful for freelancers but also for businesses as well, and it shows significant results in the long run.
As for teams, a time tracker can lead to accountability and transparency among members working on the same projects. Automatic time tracking offers a transparent overview of how each team member spends their time, which opens communication about workload and progress on the projects.
With automated time tracking, instead of spending your time filling time cards, you can allocate the time to do some work activities. This will allow you to spend your energy on creative problem-solving, strategic planning, and basically any other task that will contribute to your personal and professional growth.
Not to let it go slide unmentioned, the way we work has changed significantly. With remote work and flexible schedules, it’s become harder to track a workflow, especially in bigger teams and organizations. This is why time trackers are incredibly useful today, and you can greatly benefit from using one.
What is automated time tracker?
An automated time tracking is a tool or software designed to automatically monitor and record your activities, tasks, and working hours without manual input.
It uses technology to track computer usage, which websites you visit, which applications you use, and more. This software provides a whole overview of how you spend your time and gives you insights into your productivity and work habits.
What are the benefits of time tracking software?
Time-tracking software offers numerous benefits that can help your productivity.
Some key benefits include optimized productivity and time management, enhanced accountability, accurate data, data-driven decisions, billing and payroll accuracy, and personal development.
What is manual time tracking?
Manual time tracking involves recording your working hours and tasks manually, typically using paper timesheets or spreadsheets. With these time trackers, you’re actively keeping track of the start and end times of your tasks and projects, as well as breaks.
This method requires more diligence, but on the other hand, it offers control and mindfulness. Using this method, you need to be careful not to make mistakes because it can lead to incomplete data.