We may think it only applies to freelancers and hourly employees, but time tracking for entrepreneurs is also essential. Our time is our most valuable commodity, and the more successful you get, the scarcer it becomes. Ideally, everything you do should get you closer to the life you want to be living. We all know that time is money, so time tracking is as important for your financial security as budgeting. After all, what is time tracking but simply budgeting your hours?
To begin, organize how you spend your time into categories like “family,” “meetings,” “travel,” and “internet.” Start logging how much time you’re spending on each category. Whether you want to track every minute or just portions of the day for each task, it matters less how in-depth you track your time and more that you do it consistently. You can easily do this with a pencil and paper, in a spreadsheet, or using one of many time tracking apps available today. Here are three apps best suited for entrepreneurs:
A helpful all-around time tracker that’s also free, Toggl is probably the best starter software for anyone who wants to start logging the hours of their day. It’s simple, easy-to-navigate, and it has an app available for pretty much any device.
HourStack is interesting because it represents time differently from most other apps. The hours you work appear as blocks in the app, as if they were appointments on a calendar, putting an emphasis on setting goals for your times before you even start working. It shows time in blocks as if the time it takes you to work on a task were an event on your calendar. The app will then send you alerts to help you keep to your planned schedule. It’s not free like Toggl, but it is only $7 per month—less than a streaming subscription, and one that can help make you money in return.
Much different than other time trackers, Timeular has a physical controller to help you log your time instead of having to wade through messy interfaces just to start a timer. It uses an eight-sided Bluetooth device that you turn to represent which task you’re currently working on, tracking the time until you flip it to a new side and start a new task. While it’s a pricier first-time payment, it can be a creative and effective way to form time tracking habits and stick to them in the long term.
Invest Your Time Toward the Best Return
Dedicate yourself to time tracking for a week using your app of preference. When you’re finished, look back on your week and see if you notice any patterns. How much time are you spending on email, in meetings, on your phone? How many hours are spent traveling? Then, determine which tasks are making the most of every hour of your time, and repeat the habits that get you the best return on your hourly investment. For example, three hours with a client ending in a sale brings you a much better hourly rate than other time-eating tasks like checking social media.
As an entrepreneur, you should be eliminating tiny routines that cost you more time than they’re worth. Are you writing the same email over and over? Save it as a pre-written template to spare you from spending time writing the same thing every other day. This will save you more money in the long run—focusing on your time is focusing on your money.
Find the tasks that only you can do and consider outsourcing the rest. It might make sense for you to hire a cleaning service for your home, freeing up your time to build your business. Luckily, FFS already supports entrepreneurs by outsourcing most of the administrative work to our Home Office. By using the FFS Business Building System, you’re already optimizing your time.
Time Tracking Can Change Your Brain
By time tracking, you can actually increase the dopamine levels in your brain. Dopamine is a type of chemical called a neurotransmitter that is released by the brain to help you feel rewarded for things that you do. Originally thought to be associated solely with pleasure, a study by Vanderbilt scientists analyzing its levels in “go-getters” versus “slackers” showed that the go-getters have more dopamine, making it more closely associated with motivation and cost/benefit analysis than pleasure alone.
So how does time tracking increase your dopamine? “It’s possible to manipulate your dopamine levels by setting small goals and then accomplishing them,” according to Psychology Today. In other words, an entrepreneur who writes down S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals *, tracks their time, and makes incremental daily progress towards these goals would be raising their dopamine levels, increasing their motivation, solidifying good habits, and feeling better all around!
Read our other articles in the Focus on Your Money series to get tips on saving,