Where does the time go? If you work from home, you’re all-too-familiar with that sinking feeling you get at 5pm (6pm, 7pm or 11pm) when you realize another day has gone by and you’re not totally sure what you’ve accomplished. Often, it’s not the obvious time wasters that suck your time, it’s those sneaky this-is-kind-of-productive activities that are the most sinister. After all, they aren’t unproductive, right?
If you want to take back your day and find out where the time goes, I’m going to give you three of my favorite web apps for tracking and managing your time.
This one is awesome because it’s totally hands-off. Once installed, RescueTime just hangs out in the background and tracks how much time you spend on different computer activities (and websites). There is a little bit of management on your end (you sometimes need to re-categorize activities), but for the most part, it’s “set-it-and-forget-it.” After a week, take a look at where the time has gone. I mean, facebook is great, but is it 20 hours a week great?
This sweet app is a skinny little timer you keep open all day to track how long each activity takes. It’s definitely more hands-on and the benefit here is that you have to consciously switch between activities, instead of just slipping into the blogworld vortex unawares. You can create your own categories so it’s very personalized. I recommend keeping it simple – sticking to, say, four categories. Maybe even the four quadrants from the self-development classic, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
Once you have a good sense of where your time is going, you can take control of how you spend your time. This web app is simply a digital kitchen timer. The cool thing is that you can quickly set it by entering the amount of time after the url (for example, http://e.ggtimer.com/20min will take you straight to a 20 minute timer and starts the clock immediately). If you know that writing that blog article should take you 45-minutes of totally focused productivity, set the timer at e.ggtimer.com/45min and get crackin’!
These are my top picks. I hope you find them helpful as you take back your day. Remember that to make the most of your day, you need to sacrifice the good to focus on the great – those super-effective tasks that make you money and grow your business. Please share your favorites and how else you keep the day from slipping away.