Throughout the years of working on Toggl, we’ve found that people use time tracking for all sorts of stuff. It’d be a shame to let all that experience go to waste. And we’d love it if you could help us.
Long story short – if you have an interesting/unique lesson or tip you’d like to share with your fellow time trackers, get in touch and we’ll see if we can get your story out to the the other Togglers.
Below is an overview of just some of the cool ideas we’ve come across in the past.
What we’ve heard so far
When I’ve had to explain people what time tracking is, more often than not I’d have to debunk the idea that it’s all about bosses making sure their employees are actually working. Well, this is not necessarily true – work is measured by its results, and not time spent sitting at a desk. Or at least, that’s the idea.
So if it’s not about Dr. Evil tracking their minions, what is it?
Well, there’s the obvious answer of tracking time to get paid by a client – after all, it’s hard to argue over your bill when you’re face to face with a colourful pie chart.
With teams, there is also the need for measuring profitability. Anybody who’s ever attended a meeting than ran for twice as long as it should have knows that people still struggle to see time as a business expense – despite the tired saying of “time is money”.
But again, only when faced with a colourful chart of how much time is invested and where, can we start making rational decisions about how we use this valuable resource.
Tracking for profitability
The question of how to measure the profitability of your business is a big one for many Togglers. It matters because you want to track your work and see how the time measures up against what you perceive as the value of your work and effort.
This means that if you value yourself at 30 bucks an hour, you’re being paid 300 for a piece of work and you’ve been grinding at it for a week, you’ll need tore-evaluate the way you work.
Recently, we interviewed two marketing agencies and one startup to learn how they protect their investment of time.
1. “How to Save Time by Managing Client Expectations” – with Chantal Pittman
E-mails kill productivity – hard. They can be a constant source of interruptions.
The most interesting thing we learned from Chantal is how she deals with problem of over-communication by eliminating the problem at its root.
Instead of spending her time and energy on responding to e-mails and phone calls, she has instead set up an automated feedback system that keeps her clients informed about all aspects of their projects. This does away with much of the unscheduled communication and allows her to focus on what really matters – getting work done for the clients.
2. “Three Lessons on Keeping Your Clients Happy” – with Ami and Josh
There’s the question of profitability, and then there’s the question of investment.
We learned from Ami and Josh that while tracking your project time and profitability is important, some flexibility is needed with new clients in terms of how much time starting a new business relationship takes. While tracking and maintaining profitability on routine projects is a relatively straightforward affair, knowing how much to time to invest in new clients is much trickier.
The lesson of this interview is simple – treat your time like your money, and don’t expect to cash out straight away – instead, spend it with long term ROI in mind.
3. “”Learning to Launch” – What You Need to Know to Get Your Startup to the Starting Line” – with Mike and Fred
These two guys are on a crazy mission to launch six startups in six months and they’re doing so in order to learn what it takes to get a startup from the drawing board to the launch pad.
Their key takeaway? Treat time is an investment – if you don’t manage that investment properly, your startup won’t live long enough to see its launch date. Technical ability alone doesn’t matter if you lack the discipline to stick to a plan.
These are just a few examples of how people have used time tracking to benefit themselves and their business. But looking around the web, we can find more.
For example, there’s this guy who’s using Toggl to create visualisations of different working habits and regimes. And this data analysis company that created a logo that changes in real time based on the hours they track in Toggl. Or if you’re looking for something on a lighter note, there’s the guys that built a real-life working Toggl button, doomsday style.
Know something others don’t?
From what we gather from Twitter and our support team, our users are a clever bunch (oh yes you are). So if you feel you have something to contribute to this wonderful community, don’t hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org!