You're a creative. You have a particular, sometimes chaotic way of working and the last thing you want to be encumbered with regarding the creative process is tracking the time you spend on every little task.
But tracking your time can be invaluable to you and your profession.
Skeptical? Here are 9 ways that tracking your time can benefit your business, enhance your productivity, and make you a happier professional:
1. You'll Get Actionable Data
Possibly the most important reason to track your time is so you know how long tasks took you to accomplish them. Armed with this information, you have knowledge, and knowledge is power - the power to make good data-driven business decisions.
For instance, you'll be able to understand what kind of tasks are taking longer than others. Are your findings in line with what you expected? Does this mean you need to bargain for more time from the client or better plan the resource allocation for yourself and your creative team?
Time tracking will give you insight to change the way you and your team work more efficiently!
2. Setting Your Hourly Rate Accurately
Tracking your time allows you to accurately determine your wages. If you've set a total project cost before beginning the project, you'll be able to look back on similar past projects and know exactly how long it took to accomplish them. More importantly, you'll have a breakdown of WHERE the time went, i.e. time spent in ideation mode, time spent testing and letting creative juices flow, time spent fiddling with settings, researching, and finally, how long it really took to complete the project.
Because of tracking this invaluable data, you'd be able to accurately set an hourly rate for your services, while taking into account all the other administrative costs of running your business.
3. Estimating Precise Project Timelines
Having tracked your time in the past will provide a realistic time frame for projects, enabling you to schedule them with sufficient time for completion. Being optimistic about the time necessary for a particular job, projecting a significantly shorter amount of time can lead to a dire situation.
4. Prioritise Your To-Do List
Keeping those deadlines in mind, tracking your time can assist in assessing which projects get priority according to when their deadlines are, and how much time they have demanded in the past. Having tracked your time will also remind you of which tasks demand a mental break. You might want to elevate them in the to-do list, as they will need more time overall, including the time spent taking a relaxing break.
5. Increased Focus & Concentration
It's easier to track your time when you spend large segments of time in a single task. Logging into websites such as Facebook will prove to be such a hassle that you don't bother to distract yourself for "just a minute or two". Such distractions often cost more than anticipated when the time to get settled back into your work is included. As a result of being aware of those minutes, your work can be completed more swiftly and efficiently.
6. A Sense of Accomplishment
Some projects are big to finish within a day, week or even a month. Being the creative type, you may be inclined to leap from project to project throughout the day. However, at the end of the day, you would probably feel as if you've accomplished little, if anything, especially if nothing has been completely finished. Tracking your time enables you to look back on your day and see the time that you did invest in that project, in addition to the hundred other tasks you were whittling away at. Such irrefutable numbers deserve a pat on the back.
7. Increased Self-Accountability
On the flip side of that, you can look back at how you spent your day and find that the amount of time surfing the web far exceeded the amount of time spent on productive endeavours. With this actionable information, you can set goals for yourself and will probably notice a correlation in compensation and time spent working.
8. Find Whats Working for You
Tracking your time enables you to evaluate the effectiveness of various business practices. As an example, if you find that you received less business when you spent hours blogging than when you spent hours in a gorilla costume handing out flyers at an intersection, you will know the best place to invest your time in the future.
9. It's Easier Than Ever To Track Time
It almost begs the question "why wouldn't you?" With innovative, creative-friendly tools like WorkflowMax Adobe Time-Tracking extension, you can even track your time within popular Adobe software like Photoshop, Illustrator & InDesign.
In addition the WorkflowMax mobile app makes it easier than ever to track your time on the go.
As you have already proven as you turn your creativity into an income, you are up for the challenge. Incorporate time tracking techniques in your work and watch the benefits swell your business.
What are your thoughts about creative professionals tracking their time? Do you have a tip or two that you'd like to share with us in the comments below?