For business owners and freelancers alike, every minute in your work day has real value and for most of us, any opportunity to do more in less time is an opportunity taken. Search Amazon for productivity-related books, and you get over 36,000 results! This is clearly a challenge for many of us, so I've decided to share two time-tracking apps that I currently use to increase my productivity. They are called Toggl and Rescue Time.
In this video, I want to talk about a little bit about time management mastery as far as two tools that I have recently started using to help me keep track of where I am spending my time and to increase the amount of productive activities while decreasing those distracting, unproductive activities. These tools are called Toggl and Rescue Time.
Let’s dig into Toggl first. This is a tool that you can put on your computer browser or your phone and use it like a manual timer to keep track of what you are doing. I love breaking this down because I have specific goals every single week as far as the amount of time I want to spend on things, for example: working on my dissertation, delivering things to clients, or expanding my business.
When I have those specific hourly goals – productive activities that I am trying to work towards – Toggl gamifies it. I like to see how on track I am towards those particular activities. It motivates me when I say, " I only spent two hours on my dissertation last week, I really need to improve that in the week going forward". It also helps me curb some of my bad habits. One of the things that consume a tremendous amount of my time is administrative work and emails. I have color coded that as red – bad – and I go in there and start the timer when I am answering emails and doing other activities that take up administrative time.
This works in two ways. Firstly, I get a really good picture of how I am actually spending my time, how much of it is productive and spent on revenue generative activities. It also encourages me to batch my work. Rather than jumping in here and there to answering emails, I am doing that all at once. So, I might have set aside an hour for administrative tasks, and I run the Toggl timer up in the corner of my browser, and I’m really mindful of how I spend that time so that I’m not tempted to waste it on emails that aren’t really worth it or jump back and forth across activities – this is my designated time for emails.
Toggl is free and I love using it. You can set up different color-coded icons to indicate what you are working on – this gives a really pretty visual breakdown of how you spent your time last week. It really helps me a lot. Although there is that manual effort to it, like remembering to go in and click “start” on a project, I still find that it’s well worth for me to get a read out. It encourages me to spend more time on the things I typically procrastinate on, like my dissertation, but it also encourages me to cut down on the time I spend doing things that aren’t as productive and are somewhat distracting, like social media or like administrative tasks and emails.
The other tool I love is called Rescue Time. It provides similar benefits by telling you how you are spending your time. You can categorize different websites as being distractive, neutral, or productive, and then it logs all the time you have them open. For example, it will tell you how much time you are spending in Gmail. I was shocked one week when it told me that I had spent 7 hours just answering messages in Gmail. This was before I started using Toggl, and I thought it seemed really unnecessary, because I really only worked three days that week and it was shocking to realize how much time I was wasting on other websites.
One of the challenges of programs like these, especially Rescue Time, is that – if you are like me – you have many browser tabs open at once. Rescue Time encouraged me to close the tabs it wasn’t counting as time, like Gmail or Facebook. This has helped me stay more focused while working.
Check out these two tools; they are both free and they work wonderfully for helping to alert you to some of your bad habits and to encourage you for some of those more productive and positive ones.