Time-tracking is fun!

A change management (sacking people) consultant hired by a previous employer asked staff to track our time. Needless to say, this didn’t go well. I was either hyperfocussed on writing to a deadline or dashing from one task to the next. Either way finding the form, let alone filling it in was a struggle. Urgh. Forms. Had I been familiar with AHDH back then this might have been a lightbulb moment. In the end I filled it in with my best guesses and kept my job. And my imposter syndrome.

As a self-employed translator there are no consultants telling me what to do and I have always rebelled against any kind of monitoring. It felt so restrictive and boring! I don’t always work to a fixed schedule and for my brain there are only two times, “now” and “not now” so without tracking I had no idea what I was doing with my time.

Then a client enquired about my hourly rate and I reluctantly got on the tracking train. I have tracked religiously ever since. Here’s why:

⏱️It saves me time

ADHD brains struggle to judge time. I might set aside a morning for a task that ultimately takes just 30 minutes or be forced to cancel social plans because I’ve underestimated a project. Tracking gives me crucial data to inform my decisions so I’m not relying on my own judgement. In short, tracking saves me time.

⏱️It makes me value my time, literally

Having a true picture of the time spent on all aspects of my business helps me to justify my prices in my own mind so I can negotiate with confidence.

⏱️It’s a focus metric

If my tracker shows successive 5-minute time entries, I know my brain is not ready to work and can use brain-boosting strategies to get back on track (see my post on positive emotion).

⏱️It helps me to spot patterns

I can identify times when I am in hyperfocus mode and consider ringfencing those slots for translation, or spot slow periods when I can take a holiday without missing work.

⏱️It’s fun!

If I want a reminder of my achievements, I can check my tracker and give myself a pat on the back. I can compete with myself and try to beat previous scores! Gamification is what has made this particular habit stick.

Toggl (https://buff.ly/3N2Kcsu) is simple and easy to use. I make it simpler still by bastardising its functionality. Rather than create a new project for each task, I create one project for each client, one for business development and one for business admin so I can categorise my entries in one click without entering extra data for each new assignment. I can make a note of more granular information on individual time entries if I need to.

Toggl sends a reminder if I have forgotten to track (I can manually adjust time entries) or I am tracking whilst inactive (with an option to delete inactive time).

I can visualise my Toggl entries in my Outlook calendar which makes my work time feel more tangible and gives me satisfaction as my days fill up with blue blocks.

Do you track your time?

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