We already know that anything that can be measured can be improved. Time tracking has been used to quantify and increase productivity for years now. But it’s not just about logging hours and filling out timesheets. The data obtained is a gold mine that allows you to improve productivity, efficiency and motivation. This way you can take a productive approach without extra effort.
Here’s how you can improve productivity with time tracking:
Time Tracking and Project Management for Business Teams
In recent times, more and more software companies have opted for agile development. This flexible organizational and working methodology allows them to successfully achieve the goals with their projects. The widespread use of agile concepts has led project managers and developers to choose from a wide range of tools and solutions. Two agile models in particular have proven themselves in practice: Scrum and Kanban.
To-Do, in Progress, Done: The Kanban System for Business Teams
The Kanban system was created in Japan. Toyota developed it as early as the 1940s as an efficient method for controlling the production process. What was their goal? To dramatically increase operational productivity. Kanban is extremely simple compared to Scrum, which, as a comprehensive framework, defines several specific roles and activities.
The so-called “Kanban board” shows all the tasks, subdivided into several columns. For example, “To-do”, “In progress” and “Done”. Each task will move across the board during the project, depending on its current status. Therefore, we can describe the Kanban board as a kind of horizontal to-do list. In which, you don’t only list, sort and eventually mark tasks as done. But you can also move them from one column to the next, depending on what stage they are currently in. This model enables everyone involved in the project to better plan, monitor, and control the workflow. In addition to tracking the progress of individual tasks and the entire project.
How to Increase Productivity with Scrum and Kanban Tools
Innovative productivity concepts around Scrum and Kanban quickly prevailed in the software industry. Many domains beyond IT now use both methodologies. For example, there are more and more project management solutions that specifically target agile business teams or those who want to become one. In a wide variety of departments, such as HR, marketing or accounting.
The software presents itself as a feature-rich yet flexible alternative that supports Scrum and Kanban boards. And it offers more than 150 features covering all the core aspects of agile project management. From bug and issue tracking to centralized task, code and project management. Going through the detailed reporting and analysis tools that provide the team with insights about the project processes. In terms of functionality, Jira is lacking nothing. In addition, there are over a thousand third-party add-ons and plug-ins that extend Jira’s functionality and are marketed within the Atlassian Marketplace.
When it comes to agile management methods being enjoyable to the average user, all solutions must be measured against Trello. This company has accomplished something that only a few productivity apps, such as Slack or Dropbox, could pull off. They have successfully positioned themselves as market leaders both in the consumer and business sectors. Probably thanks to Trello, people today organize weddings, home renovations or vacation trips with Kanban boards. The app presents tasks on interactive Kanban boards. Here you can create checklists, post comments, attach files and much more. This means that you can centrally store all the important discussions and project documents. And they are always easy to access.
Another top provider in the market for business-ready task management apps that have adopted Kanban is Asana. With this software, business users can create different workspaces to better organize the work of different projects or teams. Users can track and follow projects and tasks to always stay up-to-date on the latest issues, discussions and project news. For every task created in the system, Asana provides activity streams that are essential in social business applications. In addition to the central web app, high-quality native apps are available for iPhone and Android smartphones.
Billable Hours and Time Tracking
Billable hours represent the amount of time spent working on business projects that can be charged to a client based on an agreed hourly rate. Businesses, agencies, entrepreneurs and freelancers frequently use billable hours to charge clients for the services they provide. To charge by the billable hour, workers must track the amount of time they spend on each client’s projects every day.
Billable hours apply only to clients. They are designed to ensure financial compensation for time spent on individual client cases. Therefore, the invoice (in most cases) must be paid by the client themself. Billable hours are, as a result, extremely lucrative for businesses.
Differentiate Billable from Non-Billable Hours
It is critical to distinguish and measure these types of hours. While billable hours generate income for your business, non-billable hours are still important to keep your business running smoothly. However, while both are relevant, they need to be properly calculated and balanced to create an adequate fee structure.
With TrackingTime you can easily identify which clients your team spends more non-billable hours than convenient (excessive phone calls, meetings, e-mails and so on) so that for the next project of this specific client you’ll be able to calculate better rates taking into account those non-billable hours properly. Find out which clients yield a revenue stream that exceeds the company’s costs and which ones don’t.
Reduce Non-Billable Hours
You will find that administrative tasks are responsible for the vast majority of these hours, and of course, that’s when TrackingTime comes into play. Automatic time tracking and instant billing will drastically cut the hours allocated for calculating invoices and managing payments.
Additionally, specifying which tasks are billable and which are not will help you make more informed decisions about how time is allocated. Knowing how much time per month you and your team are spending on meetings, answering e-mails, and taking phone calls is the first step to improving overall efficiency and productivity.
Balance for Success
Of course, non-billable hours represent the time your team dedicates to their relationship with your client, and are just as important and necessary as the hours you can actually include in the bill. The key is to maintain a certain balance between them so that your projects are both profitable and successful.
Accurate Billing Reports
TrackingTime allows you to generate accurate reports for billing and invoicing. Being able to differentiate the hours that you can actually bill the client from those you can’t provide you an efficient solution for administrative work. Accurate reports are not only useful for billing your clients but are also a handful tool for in-depth analysis to improve your team’s productivity.
Time Batching to Increase Productivity
Time batching refers to a productivity method that helps you organize your time well. In this method, you “batch” your tasks by working on similar tasks at each time. This way, you won’t be distracted by multitasking and have plenty of time to take the breaks you need.
The idea of time batching is similar to the assembly line, an innovation that transformed the automobile industry and spurred the industrial revolution when it was implemented at Ford Motor Company in 1913. By assigning a specific task to each worker at the Model T factory, Ford could manufacture cars much more quickly, enabling the company to sell them for much less and eventually revolutionize transportation as we know it.
Time batching challenges you to look at your assignments as Ford did with Model T production, and group similar tasks together. Then, you’ll give yourself a set amount of time to complete each batch of tasks. Eventually, you will find that you can focus on your work tasks more easily and increase your productivity effectively. Are you ready to revolutionize the way you work? Follow these steps to use time batching.
1. Batch Your Tasks
Before starting your day’s work, take a moment to group similar tasks together. For example, you might group reading and sending emails, preparing for meetings, and research in separate batches. Then, figure out how long each group of tasks will take. You can use a time tracking tool to give you a more accurate estimate. Lastly, you will end up with a to-do list or a schedule that you can stick to for the day.
2. Complete Each Batch
Start with your first batch of tasks. Try not to get distracted and work only on those specific tasks you’ve assigned yourself in the first time batch. After a break, move on to the next batch until all batches are complete. Keep track of your progress with project management tools so you don’t forget where you ended at. With your progress, you may find that certain tasks take more or less time than you initially thought. But don’t worry, that’s only part of the process. Make a note to adjust the number of minutes you spend on that task batch the next time you do it, or find a way to use process automation to help you knock out tedious, time-consuming tasks more quickly.
3. Take Breaks
Taking breaks is crucial to the success of your time batching. You’ll need time between batches to recalibrate and address anything that might have come up. Take 10 minutes or so to check Slack, answer urgent emails or texts, and maybe grab a snack or drink, then move on to your next time batch. Backup software can help you save your work when you take breaks.
4. Re-Evaluate the Process
As you wrap up your workday, ask yourself which parts of the time batching process worked and which didn’t. Be mindful of how you procrastinated throughout the day, and how easy it was for you to transition from your breaks back into work. You might want to be more or less specific about how you batch your tasks, or you might want to work in longer or shorter time increments. Your time batching method will evolve the more you use it.
Why Using Time Tracking to Increase Productivity
Time tracking is key to understanding how you spend your time, personally and in business. It is key to productivity, insight, and a healthy workflow. When you know which tasks take the most of your time, you can begin to reflect on whether that time is well spent. The most time consuming tasks are not necessarily the tasks that require the most effort to complete or bring the most value.
Time batching in 4 easy steps
- Batch your tasks
Group similar tasks together, figure out how long each group will take and stick to your to-do list for the day.
- Complete each batch
Work on every batch in order, avoiding getting distracted by other activities.
- Take breaks
Take breaks between batches to recalibrate and get a cup of coffee.
- Re-evaluate the process
Your time batching method will evolve the more you use it.