Leading Change
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Time-Management 201: Tracking Every Minute of the Day

bumblebeeI realized that if I’m going to increase my effectiveness as a leader then my productivity must increase by an exponential factor.

The first step in stewarding my time more effectively was integrating a task management program into my weekly routine. “Things” for Mac has been a great solution for me and has insured that the majority of the important/non-urgent tasks I have are completed on time.

After a meeting with a mentor whose time-management capacity far exceeds mine, I noticed that a task manager captures things I want to do, and things I have to do, but is not the best at tracking “things I end up doing.”

“Things I end up doing” fall into all four of Steven Covey’s time-management matrix, and most are outside of my control. As random as these things feel during the week, they can be organized and even prioritized. This is also the area where I have the greatest opportunity to become more effective. If I can redeem and re-prioritize this time towards more important/non-urgent activities I will be exponentially more productive throughout the week.

Enter “On the Job,” a time-tracking software app for Mac. I looked at a variety of apps, and even considered excel sheets, but this app seemed most intuitive to the way I work and think.

on the job time tracking software for mac

My goal is to first track every minute of my working hours each week, then within 6 months track every hour of every week (including sleep).

It sounded a little insane when my mentor first suggested it. But now that I’m tracking 70-80% of each day I’m seeing encouraging results.

I’m spending less unfocused time on social media. Facebook has almost disappeared from my work time because it rarely contributes to anything productive (you probably knew that, but I didn’t). I’m spending more time on Reeder my RSS app and Twitter and am surprised by how much value they create in terms of influencing others and learning key bits of information that help me in my role.

The best part about using the software is that when I switch tasks, I have to stop the app from tracking one task and start it on another. This is great accountability and gives me enough pause to decide on how valuable that new task is, and how much time I want to spend on it.

Have you plateaued in the stewardship of your time? Have you ever or do you track how much time you spend on things? What software or tools do you use that help? 

4 Comments

  1. Not sure if I’ve plateaued on stewardship, because I rarely track time to the minute anymore. If I try and track things minute by minute, I can really become neurotic with it. When that happens, my focus turned to how much time I was spending on a particular task rather than focusing on getting it done and done well. David Allen’s GTD concepts have been a big help in this regard, helping me focus on the task at hand.

    I still track my time for accountability purposes, but I’m afraid an app like “On the Job” would only turn me more into a neurotic grump. 🙂 Once I can shell out the cash for it, I might give it a shot and see how I do.

    Great post, though. Ferriss would read it 🙂

    • i think we are the opposite drew–i like to believe that i’m much more effective than i really am at managing my time. this app has only confirmed that belief.

      a big part of this is reporting–some do not believe that social media is valuable, and i want to have specific and accurate data on how much time i spend helping staff use social media effectively.

      in terms of leading change, if you see an opportunity that others don’t, i think measuring time spent and results would be a powerful tool for getting others to buy in.

  2. Makes sense, especially in the reporting context.

    I think my personality and employment background (worked for a small law firm and coaching) encouraged me very early on to track my time, so doing so has almost become second nature for me, as evidenced in the pocket notebook I carry with me everywhere. I figured out that if I track time in six minute increments (0.1 of an hour), it made the hours easy to add up at the end of the day.

    However, those with a more entrepreneurial personality and who don’t have a timecard to punch in a cubicle, I think something like On the Job is extremely beneficial.

    I might find a trial version or free time management app and see how it goes. So far, the six-minute rule and Excel have worked well for me.

    • thought it would be worth it to mention part of the conversation we had offline.

      from talking w you it seems like it’s less about the entrepreneurial leanings and more about one’s orientation towards either the present or the future.

      since the future defines my actions more than the present i’m quick to shift tasks and lose track of time during the day–also since my time is often spent on intangible things it’s easy for me to justify/rationalize things intangible activities like facebook.

      definitely a combination of things but that stuck w me as we talked.

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