Wednesday, April 24, 2013

WMW: Lists and Time-Tracking

A friend recently asked me for tips on getting better organized at work. I don't have a lot of super-fancy tricks or tips—my main thing is just being a compulsive list-maker. I have a master checklist for my work to-dos each week, with sub-checkboxes if there are numerous parts under one main task. For example, editing a book, I might make a sub-list of all the chapters, so that I can mark them off as I go. (That's part organization and part motivation—checking off a to-do is a proven endorphin boost, so the more small tasks you can get on that list, the more frequently you get to check one off! I'm like a productivity junkie.)

One "fancier" tool I did tell my friend about, however, was, an online time tracker. It has become absolutely essential to my work life. I heard about it in the fall in a Forbes article listing several "must-try" online organizational tools. I tried a couple of them, but Yast is the only one I've found to be a must-use.

I actually started using it when I was full-time at my old job, just to track how long I was spending on certain tasks each day (a very educational exercise, I must say). And now that I'm a freelancer, billing some jobs by the hour, it is even more important to know how long I spend on each job.

You add your projects, grouped under higher categories if you desire, and give a color code to each one. I pixelated the names of my projects above, but you can see the two main categories, "UMPH Work" (my long-time employer for which I still do a good bit of work) and "Other Paid Work." Below that, I also have a "Personal" category for things like blogging, VBS-planning, etc.

To start the time on a certain project, you just click the blue arrow, and it starts running with that project's color on the timeline at the top and showing you the time next to the orange square on the line. On the above screen cap, for example, I'd been working for 24 minutes on my "orange" job. At the end of the line, you can see the day's total for that job (2 hrs, 20 min) and the week's total (6 hours, 40 min).

It's nice to know, at the end of the day or week, how long you've worked and on what. Yast tracks your time by the day and the week, and you can view reports of any time period (SO useful when turning in a time sheet or invoice!)

Whether you're tracking paid work by the client or project, or just want to know how long you're spending each day on various parts of your job or various other activities like email and blogging, I really recommend this tool.


Lisa H and Baby To Be said...

I add things to my lists just to mark them off and feel like I've accomplished something, too. Jim used to tease me about it, but now when we make a list for the house and we're checking things off he will encourage me to add things we've already done to check them off so he has come around to my way of thinking--and yours, too, apparently!

Vincy Chan said...

I had been using Lego and kanban techniques to manage my time and tasks until last month. You know, both are interesting as they are kinda games, but I must agree that those consume more time.

I had been sticking notes all around my desk, ending up cleaning the strains myself.

Later my friend suggested using a time tracking software and then did some research and found Replicon timekeeping software. Now my time is tracked automatically and I end up getting reports on my daily activities regularly. Moreover their project tracking and management is awesome.

jorg gray said...

Time Tracking and Time Management Software that is accurate and helps you to get a lot more done each day. Project Time Tracking Software


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