WORKPLACE / DEC. 11, 2015
version 6, draft 6

Why Time Tracking Is Essential for Workers

When you’re at work, time is always of essence. From the moment you clock in up to the moment you leave for the day, you should constantly be making sure that you remain on task. But, let’s be realistic: I’m sure most people reading this waste a substantial amount of their time on the clock. But this isn’t necessarily your fault. In fact, many of you probably end up getting your work done much earlier than expected, leaving you with large chunks of time to browse the net and otherwise waste time. For this reason, managers and supervisors would do well to become masters of time: both their own and their employees’. And here’s why.

See Also: 7 Time Management Quotes to Get You Back on Track

1. You’ll Have a More Realistic Idea of Time Spent on Tasks

From massive undertakings that take weeks to accomplish to the micro-tasks you assign your employees on a daily basis, as a manager, you should be able to tell your supervisor just how long your team has spent on a specific task. You want to be able to give them a pretty exact number when doing so. If your answer is, “I think we’ve been working on it since Wednesday”, you’ve made it clear that you don’t really know what your team is up to at any given time. However, if you can tell your higher-up that, on Tuesday, your team worked on this and, on Wednesday, they worked on that, you’ll allow him to rest easy knowing his company is in good hands.

2. You Can Estimate Time Better

Since you’ll have a more realistic idea of how long you’ve been spending on tasks, when you start tracking time, you’ll be able to predict how long a future task will – or at least should – take to complete. This will help you put together your team’s schedule for the following week, or even month, since you’ll be able to make an educated guess as to how much time will need to be spent on specific tasks. You’ll also start to notice how transition time piles up. For example, though you might call a meeting at 10:00, it realistically won’t get started until 10:03 or even 10:10. Knowing this, you can either anticipate it, or call it to your team’s attention, and do something about it.

3. You Can Set Clear Objectives and Expectations

If you tell an employee to work on a project without giving any time parameters, it is possible – even likely – that they’ll drag their feet when getting started. On the other hand, if you tell them you need the project on your desk by five o’clock later that day (even if such a feat would be impossible), you’ll only end up sending your worker into a panic, leading him to perform below his level of ability. However, if you have a good idea of how long such a project should take, and give your worker a realistic deadline, he’ll be much more likely to get to work right away and focus on getting the job done.

4. You’ll Stay on Task

Going along with the last point, when you know how long a task will take, you’ll most likely work diligently to get it done within the estimated timeframe. You’ll know that any excuse you make will fall on deaf ears since you were given a deadline that was completely workable. As I said before, if you didn’t have a deadline, or were given too much time to complete a task, you’d be more likely to waste a lot of time getting lost in thought (or a game or two of Candy Crush). If you know you’re expected to be working for a specific amount of time, you’ll likely rise to the occasion.

5. You Can Equate Time and Money

We’ve all heard the phrase “time is money”. Like I said, from the time you sit down at your desk to the time you leave in the evening, you should be dedicating your all to completing your assigned tasks. The reason for this is because you’re being paid to do it. If that sounds too obvious, look at it from another way: if you aren’t putting your all into your work, you’re stealing from your company. If you make $20 an hour and waste 15 cumulative minutes every hour, you’re stealing $5 an hour. As a supervisor, if you see a dip in productivity from a single employee, you can use this rhetoric as grounds for dismissal in order to hire a more efficient employee in his place.

6. You’ll Anticipate Changes in the Scope of a Project

Even though you’ll be able to ballpark the length of time a project should take to complete, you won’t ever be so clairvoyant that you’ll be able to pinpoint an exact amount of time it’ll end up taking. However, when you notice part of the task is taking a little longer than expected, you will be able to extrapolate the data to figure out how much longer it’ll end up taking as a whole. When this happens, you’ll at least be able to explain to your supervisor where your team got held up, and how much more time you’ll need to finish up. He might still be disappointed if you miss a deadline, but if you at least give him a timetable and rationale behind it, you’ll show you have things under control.

7. You’ll Know When to Delegate Tasks

As a manager yourself, you most likely have a lot on your plate at all times. While you might be the type of person to take on a lot and get things done yourself, there comes a point when you realize you can’t do it all. When you start to pay attention to time constraints, you’ll be more likely to delegate assignments to your employees rather than overwork yourself. When you start to notice how the micro-moments stack up, you’ll also realize how much time you spend completing minor tasks that could be done by another employee while you focus on larger, more important tasks.

8. You’ll Be Able to Analyze and Improve Performance

If you know how much time a specific task should take, and it takes much longer across the board, you’ll be able to analyze exactly what went wrong throughout the entire process. On the other hand, when things go smoothly, you’ll be able to motivate your team to stay on task more often by showing them how well they worked. However, no matter how well your team worked through a project, there will almost certainly be room for improvement. If you’ve tracked your team’s effort on the project from start to finish, you’ll definitely find rough spots that could be smoothed out the next time.

See Also: How to Be a Time Management Master

Time is a company’s most valuable asset. Since it’s impossible to ever get time back, it’s incredibly important that not a second is wasted by a team of workers. However, this notion sometimes goes unnoticed by managers and supervisors who don’t pay close attention to their time on the clock. This is not to say that supervisors should micromanage their team – but they should definitely know what their employees are doing at any given time in order to ensure maximum efficiency. And it all starts with having a complete and total understanding of the concept of time.

How do you track workers’ time? Do you have any tips that you’d like to share with the rest of us? Let us know in the comments section below!

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