"I work over eighty hours a week!" a friend recently quipped.
My brow furrowed. "Eighty hours? That seems like an awful lot."
My friend took in a slow, deep breath. "It's non-stop. From the moment I get out of bed until the moment I pass out in that same bed, my fingers are on the keyboard responding to..." he trailed off a moment. "To goodness knows what!"
This scenario was not the first one of its ilk to play out in my office: I see hundreds of people every year that cannot fathom the number of hours they are plunging into work.
Time and time again, it is straightforward for me to see that these people have no idea exactly how they are spending their time. By extension, they may not even be sure how many hours are "real" work hours versus "busy" hours.
Busy hours represent time spent on interstitial tasks that prevent people from doing actual work.
"Describe to me how you typically spend your time at work," I asked.
My friend shrugged. "I don't know. I'm a bit embarrassed to say. I must admit that I spend a disproportionate amount of my time on personal goals & side projects. My company encourages workers to explore new avenues, new possibilities. Strangely enough, I spend a fair amount of time going to my boss to ask for more work. Perhaps what is more frustrating is the amount of time that I spend completing administrative tasks or in meetings."
"Have you taken time out to track how much time you spend on these tasks?" I asked.
"What's stopping you?"
"Nothing. I forget." Yet another shrug. "This last week was hectic. I attended several networking events for my side project, and I had an abnormal quantity of client visits."
"It looks like..."
|The quest for creativity|
"Oh! And I have to admit that I'm not motivated by some of the projects assigned to me. They seem to drag on forever. I work for several short hours on something creative, and then I have to spend the rest of the time labelling and coding my creations."
"You told me that you're on a diet."
My friend blinked, surprised at the sudden shift in topic. "Uh, yes." He patted his stomach. "It's working, too. I've lost 18 pounds."
"Congratulations. By any chance, do you count your calorie intake?"
"I do; I use the LoseIt calorie tracker. It gives me instant insight into how I'm managing my nutrition as the day goes by."
"How has that been going?"
"I forget sometimes, but it's still helpful."
"Would you be motivated to learn more about the tasks that you feel you are 'wasting your time on' so that you can focus on the more creative tasks you enjoy?"
I'm sure that you can imagine how the rest of the conversation went from there. I managed to convince my friend to try out a time tracking service to pinpoint metrics on time spent.
His company uses two time tracking services. The fact that different departments were using different trackers indicated that time tracking services are niched; that is, various services each have their peculiarities that benefit one group of people or another.
My friend's company uses two products:
This cloud-based service is a feature-rich product productivity tracker. Users that have a certain amount of freedom in how they spend their time will appreciate this product. Go there via https://toggl.com/go
This cloud-based service is familiar to anyone that has ever used a Google product. Users will quickly adapt to the interface. Go there via https://www.xpunch.com
My friend is in the former group. His bosses do not want to control how he spends every waking moment: they want productivity.
Bosses that are a little more "hands" on will want to check out the latter product for their employees.
Both products offer a "free forever" feature that allows users to judge whether the product is a good fit for their needs.
"It turns out I'm not the workaholic I thought I was," my friend announced a few weeks later. "I spend an awful lot of time between tasks on things that that are related to work, but they're not related to the projects that I work on. It may not seem like a lot, but there's a good 8% of my time spent on these other work-related issues. If I can find a way to cut them out of my 'work diet,' I'll be able to use that time for more creative tasks. Everyone will be happy all around."
Avid time tracker