Happy new year! What better time to start some good habits?
Settling yourself into a good work routine is easier than you think, and tracking your time correctly will make you infinitely more efficient and productive all year long.
Track as you go, not after
A smart way to do this is to start thinking differently about the way you approach tracking your time. Use it to keep yourself focussed on the task at hand, rather than writing down later how much time you think you spent on something a few days ago (you’re bound to forget or just fudge the numbers). Turn your timer on right before you start something, write a short description of what you are about to do, and finally - this is the hard part - go and do only that.
Focus on one task at a time
Every time you switch tasks your brain has to shut down the part you were using, and turn on the part you need for the new task – so just imagine the amount of brainpower you waste trying to do two small tasks at once! To keep productive, when your timer is running you should be focussed on just one task at a time. It can be really hard to stop yourself from multitasking when you’ve got a lot of work to do, but try focussing on one activity for, say, a 10-30 minute chunk of time, and then see how much faster you get through your to-do list.
Avoid the biggest productivity killers
Are you someone who checks their emails every 10 minutes? This is a major focus killer! It might be the year to set a new rule for yourself: only check your inbox twice a day and dedicate 20 minutes or so for replying to the important ones, instead of checking it all day long in between all your other tasks. This takes some serious discipline, but will pay off!
Keep your timer honest
When you’re making a cup of tea, or calling a friend, or scrolling through your twitter feed – be honest and pause your timer. This will give you a little reminder that you’re no longer working, and make your tracked time more accurate if you make it a habit. After no time at all, you’ll be able to see exactly where your time is going.