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Time Tracking Best Practices for Individuals and Businesses

Productivity is essential to the success of any business. Organizations that can find ways to increase employee productivity can quickly see improvements in their bottom line. Maintaining excellent time keeping and using time tracking is just one way to become more productive.

There are many time tracking software options available, each with its own set of features and no doubt fulfilling the needs of some businesses more than others. Deciding which time tracking method will work best for your team can be a challenge, especially when taking into account the specific needs of your unique business.

Consider your team’s needs: What type of time tracking do they need? Do they need to track time spent on specific projects? Do they need to track their time in real-time? Your industry will benefit more from certain features and less from others - what are they and how important are they to you?

Whether you’re looking for a time tracker for business (or just for your own productivity!), we’re covering why time tracking is so useful, the difference between manual and automatic time tracking, and how you can get the most out of your time tracking software. 

Why is time tracking so important for businesses?

Time tracking allows you to gain insights into employee productivity levels, engagement, and the overall return on investment for each project. This information will assist you in making better judgments and prioritizing employees' schedules and daily activities.

It also helps with billing and invoicing. Accurate time tracking gives you an accurate representation of the time you spent on a project, making client billing much easier.

Time tracking software is also crucial for employee accountability. By seeing how they spend each hour, employees are more likely to be mindful of how they use their time. This contributes to more efficient work habits overall. 

Automatic vs manual time tracking - How are they different

Broadly speaking, there are two sorts of time trackers: manual and automatic. 

For manual tracking, you need to manually enter the time you worked and start the timer yourself. With automated time tracking software, the downloaded app will run in the background, logging what websites you visit or applications you use. 

Both types have their uses. Let’s go through each individually below. 

Manual time tracking

With manual time tracking, you're in complete control of when the timer starts and stops. This can be helpful if you want to track your work in short bursts or if you only want to track certain types of tasks. It can also be less accurate than automatic time tracking, since it's easy to forget to start or stop the timer.

Automatic time tracking

With automatic time tracking, you don't have to worry about starting or stopping the timer. The app will do it for you, in the background. This can be helpful if you want to get an accurate picture of how you or your employees spend their time or if you're forgetful about starting and stopping the timer.

Tips on time tracking for individuals

Log your times immediately, do not leave it for later

The sooner you finish your timesheet, the better. The process of completing this task will not get any easier at the end of the week or at the conclusion of this month. Procrastination will only increase the chances of inaccuracies and incompleteness.

Time tracking applications like MinuteDock allow you to log your time as you work. This way, you don't have to remember to start or stop the timer – the app will do it for you. If you're someone who tends to forget these things, this can be a helpful feature. It will also give you an accurate picture of how you spend your time. You can use this data to make informed changes in your schedule where needed. 

Add brief and logical descriptions of your time entries

Your time tracking descriptions should be as clear and concise as possible. For example, you may need to submit a time report for client payment or project management, so it needs to make sense to other people, not just you. Even if you work alone and your clients don't review your timesheets, you may still have to go back through old records to figure out what they were about.

Some tips for writing effective time entries:

  • Be as specific as possible
  • Include the date, task name, and project name (if applicable)
  • Add any relevant details about the task itself
  • Use consistent abbreviations
  • If you use shorthand or acronyms, be sure to explain them in a legend or key
  • Don’t leave blank time blocks

Manage your time around clients and projects specifically

Use activities to connect clients, projects, milestones, and tasks. It will allow you to understand data in time reports and see how much time has passed. Clients and projects should not be taken literally. They may be any categories you believe are essential for organizing the data properly.

Use an automatic time tracking application

Automated time tracking is a useful tool for keeping track of the time you spend on each task. It also shows how many projects you're working on, as well as how much time they'll take. This will make it easier to measure your productivity and cut distractions.

Time tracking for businesses

Train your employees about time tracking

Set expectations early

Your employees need to be aware of your company’s expectations for time tracking. It’s important to set the ground rules up front so there are no surprises down the road. Let employees know how you plan to use the data, what disciplinary actions may be taken for inaccurate time tracking, and whether or not overtime will be paid.

Make it easy

Your employees should have an easy way to track their time. If they are required to check-in to a mobile app daily, make sure that the app is easy to use and navigate. If they’re expected to enter their time manually, provide a timesheet that reduces their time and efforts. This will improve compliance drastically. 

Make time tracking easy for your managers

Managers routinely have to collect all employee timecards or reports, check them for accuracy regarding billable time worked, overtime, and correct any errors. 

This process can take up a lot of time, and if time tracking isn’t done accurately, it can lead to big problems for your business. That’s why it’s important to make time tracking as easy as possible for both employees and managers.

There are a few ways you can do this:

  • Make time tracking mandatory for all employees:
    This ensures that everyone is on the same page and that no one forgets to track their time. You can make time tracking mandatory by using a time clock, time card software, or even a simple spreadsheet where employees enter their start and end times for each day.
  • Make time tracking voluntary for all employees:
    This allows employees to choose how they want to track their time based on convenience and preference. You can offer a range of time tracking options, such as time clock software, time cards, or mobile apps.
  • Make time tracking optional for managers:
    This allows managers to track time if they want to but doesn’t require them to do so. This is a good option for businesses that don’t want to add any extra work for their managers.

No matter which option you choose, make sure that time tracking is easy and convenient for employees and managers. This will help ensure accurate and timely time tracking.

Avoid these time tracking mistakes

Not collecting complete details about work hours

There's a fine line between keeping time cards simple and oversimplifying your data in such a way that it's no longer useful. As a starting point, employees should clock in at the start of each shift and clock out at the end. 

However, managers should also be able to track time worked on specific projects, tasks, or goals in order to measure productivity. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a lot of inaccurate data that doesn’t show what your team is actually doing.

Not tracking overtime

Tracking overtime ensures employees are being paid fairly for the extra hours they work. It also helps managers plan for future staff needs and budget appropriately.

Not tracking absences

Absences can have a significant impact on staffing needs and project deadlines. By tracking absences, you can better understand why projects are running late or why certain tasks are taking longer than expected. This information can then be used to adjust schedules and work around individual needs. 

Not leveraging time tracking software features

You don’t have to be a tech wizard to benefit from time tracking solutions like Hourly. 

The application provides user-friendly features that allow you to work more efficiently and get the best value out of your time report. For example, the ‘My Schedule’ feature provides a clear overview of your upcoming tasks and deadlines. This makes it easy to plan your day and avoid overbooking yourself.

Another great time tracking feature is the ‘Time Log’. This allows you to see how you have spent your time over a certain period. This is useful for identifying patterns in your work habits and for making adjustments to be more productive.

If you’re not using time tracking software to its full potential, then you’re missing out on valuable insights that could help you improve your workflow.

Conclusion 

Time tracking software is a valuable tool for increasing productivity, both individually and for company teams. By leveraging features such as automatic tracking, project and task tracking, and HR related features such as absences and overtime, your team will be working more productively in less time. 

Minute Dock is the all in one time tracking software for businesses that want to spend less time on admin more time on the things that matter.

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