Time Keeps on Slipping, Slipping, Slipping Into the Future – So Track it Online!

What's In Your Toolbox?

I met Dawn Svenson Holland on The Third Tribe forums. When I read that she was looking for a new time-tracking tool, I asked her to record her journey and final results so we could bring it to you guys; she was kind enough to do so in excellent detail.

Online Time Tracking: The Cornerstone of Better Business

In summary, time invested in reviewing and selecting online time management software is the best management decision I have made in this infancy stage of my business. This post covers how I got to this epiphany, a few notes on resources, my ultimate selection and thoughts for an even better future.

Thanks to the great course on Calculating Your Hourly Rate by cj Madigan, valuable time has been spent recently determining how to operate my business more effectively. I launched my business full time six months ago and operate from my home. My pre-cornerstone reality of tracking my own time was:

  1. Estimating the time involved in a project for prospect quotes
  2. Tracking actual project time on the back end in a notebook
  3. Losing focus through sporadic interruptions into the business day from two significant volunteer commitments and family demands
  4. Adding to the stress of business ownership by simply feeling like I was always swimming in the deep end of the pool without any data to backup why I was feeling that way

Initially, even after cj’s class made the need clear, I resisted the idea of tracking my time. Did I really need one more thing to do? Boy, was I wrong! The work in progress that is online time tracking is the cornerstone of my doing better business for my clients, my family and myself.

How I got to where I am:

  1. Reviewed the list of potential solutions on Matt’s Leverage the Web Site.
  2. Asked the brilliant online marketers at The Third Tribe forum for personal experience input
  3. Invested significant time reviewing the following options:
    1. The billable timer feature installed with my QuickBooks (Disclosure: I am fully under-utilizing QuickBooks. If you’re a more experienced user, you may come to a different conclusion)
    2. Toggl
    3. Freckle
  4. Determined through self-examination that I need a tool:
    1. Available in multiple formats (on my iPhone or at my desk)
    2. With an intuitive design
    3. That offered time tracking only, since Quickbooks has accounting functioned covered for me
    4. That makes it easy to both start the timer on projects and add in time after the fact

What I learned and observed during the review process:

  1. 30 day free trials seem to be the norm, so risk has been managed out of the review process.
  2. Toggl does a nice job of engaging prospects in a conversation using social media without immediately trying to close a sale. This was not my experience with other prospects.
  3. I am very guilty of not batching my day into focus areas. For example, if I rise to get a glass of water, this was taking me 5-7 minutes since I emptied the dishwasher as long as I was up. Talk about inefficient!  Just reviewing time tracking options helped me batch types of activities, like household chores together. My completed task list has gone up by 25% most days since making this simple change.
  4. Since my phone is always at my fingertips, it will be my primary tool for time tracking.

Why I decided on Toggl (approximately 3 weeks ago)

  1. Toggl was the most intuitive tool I clicked on with a site geared towards its users.
  2. They offered $5 monthly pricing for single users, the lowest I found.
  3. Their iPhone app makes it easy to:
    • Select the same tasks from a previous day and start the time over on another day for labeling consistency
    • Add in, for example, a 15 minute client call after I get off the phone by adjusting the timer up
    • Turn off the automatic billable “checkbox” with the flick of a switch
  4. The coordination between the iPhone app and desktop app, when I do have both open is seamless

Where I still need to work on time tracking:

  1. I am not sure whether I am using the right labels/tracking the right details. I trust this will come with time spent with the system.
  2. I must set aside time weekly to review tracking for:
    1. Client time spent
    2. Business development time spent
    3. Work/life balance
    4. Opportunities to keep building my business foundation
  3. I must remember to turn off the billable feature since my only need is to know how the hours I estimated up front compare to the actual hours spent on a client project
  4. I plan to stick with Toggl at the end of my 30 day trial and look forward to continuing to add bricks to build a better business and a better life with the cornerstone of time management software.  Wishing you greater efficiencies and lower stress when you do the same!

Dawn Svenson Holland loves her family, her life and the mission of her business. She is President of www.FlashPointFundraising.com.

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