As a business owner, I find one of my biggest challenges to be time management. But I have found a better way! I discovered a free online tool called Toggl (Toggl.com) that helps me track my time, so I can tell where I am spending it and identify where the big productivity gaps are. I was not surprised to learn that email, social media, phone calls and volunteer hours take a big chunk of it. Here’s how else it has helped me:
Batching tasks: Now that I know where my time is going, I can better organize my day. Instead of allowing email, phone calls and social media to interrupt me, I batch my work, answering my emails at set times of the day. I do the same with phone calls and social media. This instantly increased my productivity.
Identifying marketing time: Part of every business owner’s day should include marketing, regardless of the tool – networking, customer service, client calls, etc. By tracking my time, I can see how much time I am spending on marketing each week. This helps me hold myself accountable, so that marketing doesn’t fall off my “to do” list.
Determining ROI: By tracking my time, I can see where I am making money and where I’m losing it. For example, let’s say I am making a flat rate for producing an article for publication. By tracking my time, I can calculate my approximate hourly rate to determine if I made money on an article or if I spent too much time on research, writing and editing. For example, I recently wrote an article about how to make money writing for an online outlet. I was paid $60 for the article, but it took me about an hour to write. That means I made $60/hour for that piece. I compare that to my current hourly rate for other client work to determine if that was a good use of my time.
Tracking billable time: By tracking specific tasks by project and by client, I have an easy way to tally billable hours. I’ve always tracked this anyway, writing down start and stop times, and eventually transferring the information to QuickBooks, but Toggl makes this task easier with its reporting features.
When I first started using Toggl, I thought it would take up a lot of my time to record my tasks and projects, but I’ve found that once I enter a client and project, it is as simple as pressing a button and well worth the effort. It has made a big difference in increasing my productivity.