Where Did My Day Go? Tracking Time to Improve Productivity
August 21, 2014
One of the most common questions in the corporate world is how to maximise employee productivity. With the world at our fingertips, remaining productive and on task can be challenging for some individuals. Fortunately, there are many strategies available to decrease distractions and improve motivation.
One of the most effective strategies involves tracking your tasks throughout the day to identify your most productive times. Some people may find that they are more productive first thing in the morning, while others may have a burst of energy in the late afternoon. You will also find patterns in the times you are least productive and unable to focus. By understanding your own natural rhythms, you can schedule your most difficult tasks for your most productive times, increasing your overall work output.
For the technologically savvy, there are a multitude of time management programs and applications available at little to no cost. You may find that using an app that tracks the time you spend on various websites and programs may give you an indication of where your time is going. Other apps exist that merge the traditional to-do list with stopwatch functionality to accurately represent how much time you spend on individual tasks. Most of the applications have a short learning curve, and before long you will find that you have a much better ability to estimate the amount of time a task will take to complete.
While it may not be an obvious solution, tracking the ways you spend your time outside of the office, including tracking your sleep patterns, may also provide some insight into your productivity. If you frequently find yourself staying up late on the weekends and lounging around on the couch all day, it should come as no surprise that you are unable to focus come Monday morning. You may find that changing your habits on the weekend will help you throughout the workweek as well. If you notice your most productive times are in the morning, shifting your sleep pattern back to an early bedtime and wake time may leave you feeling far more refreshed and ready to tackle a productive day around the house.
A commonly overlooked cause of decreased productivity is burnout. Simply put, sometimes you just need a break. Setting a timer for one hour increments and taking five minutes to stretch, look out the window, and walk around can help to prevent eye strain, blood clots, sore muscles, and most importantly gives your mind a chance to recoup. As much as we would like to be productive 24 hours a day, it is just not realistic.
Whether you choose to use an internet or mobile app, or simply buy a good old fashioned stop watch, tracking the time you spend on tasks throughout your day is sure to help provide unexpected insights into where your day has gone. Once you are aware of the amount of time you spend on bad habits or inefficient methods for completing tasks, you will be able to streamline your schedule and maximise your productivity.