For my previous businesses I never kept track of any time. I just worked as much as I could or until a project or design was finished. I always had my dedicated work hours and made a plan on what to do when - I wrote it about it in my previous blog post - but I did not know how long each task actually took me.
And I did the same when I started MNFL Design. I kind of jumped around each day and had no idea how long it took me to design a logo or how long I needed to set up Wordpress for a client. I also struggled with how I should price my services. So it was actually my dad who intervened and told me to write down my hours, so that I would get an idea how long each task would take me. Like that I would be able to find adequate prices and organize my days and projects better.
However I did not have the time to start an excel spreadsheet and write down all my projects and times. So, guess what, he did it for me! I know, super nice, right?!
Everyday I would scribble down the time I worked on something and at the end of the day I would send him an email and he had his proper excel spreadsheet with filters etc where he recorded my hours and how much time I spend on my projects or other tasks. From time to time he would send me an overview asking if I knew that I had already spend so many hours on a single project but got only paid this much? I was very surprised and knew I had either spend too much time going back and forth on a certain design or I priced myself too low.
It was very actually very helpful and for my start up phase. It gave me a good idea about how much time I needed for all my projects and helped me a lot with my pricing.
Also since I started writing down my time, I started to focus better. Now I know that I am timing myself for a certain task and don't want to mess this timing up by getting distracted with checking my Instagram for example.
Then one day Toggl was recommended to me. I gave it a try as it was free and no hassle to sign up. I loved it instantly! And my poor dad lost his job ;-) (He still does my bookkeeping though so he is not totally off the hook.)
Since then I keep track of almost everything with Toggl. I record not only my clients projects but also how much time I spend on emails and blog post and social media etc.
It gives me a fantastic overview. It also showed, for example, that social media was taking up too much time in comparison to other projects :-)
I also try and really stick to spending only 30 minutes on emails in the morning.
Now there is always a small clock running at the top of my screen which is great to keep me focused.
How to use Toggl
You log in (www.toggl.com)
You create a workspace for your company
You start adding projects and you can also assign colors to them
You can also add clients (in case you work for them again on another project)
You can invite team members
You can generate different reports
And now you can optimize your work week by keeping track of the hours :-)
Signing up for Toggl is straight forward. You just go to www.toggl.com and follow the instructions. Then they will set up a workspace for you. If you want to add one you can just go to workspace on the left hand side.
Now you can click on projects and create all the different projects/tasks you are having. Like Emails, Social Media, Administrative, Bookkeeping, and of course your client's projects. You can also click on Clients and add your client's names.
This is your dashboard when you log in.
Now you can start recording. You just click on Timer and then add the project you are working on and write a short description and the timer will start running immediately.
This is where you start timing yourself and you can add a project and what you are working on.
Once you are finished with this task/project you stop recording it with the stop button in the top right corner.
The good thing is that in case you forgot to stop the timer or you started late you can adjust the timings later by clicking on that specific project and on the time and you can adjust it there.
You can also add a new project and client on the go. So once you start timing and you click on project/task you can either search for an existing project or you can add one at the bottom. Like this your project/task list grows over time.
This is a screenshot of my toggl dashboard and you can see what it looks like once you start recording. It shows you what your are working on right now and also what you worked on the previously.
At the end of each week you get a report of your previous workweek by email which is great. However you can also go into Reports on the left hand side and generate your own reports. You can add specific days or just click on last week or last month or even last year. And you can filter this by project or client or team member as well if you like.
This is a screenshot of the overview of my last week. It shows you on visually how much you worked each project during the last week. You can also do this for the last month for example.
Just play with it a little bit. And toggl also offers a good help section and small videos here.
The advantages of using Toggl
It is totally free
It is easy to set up
It is very easy to understand and use
There is an app so you can also use it out and about
It keeps you focused
You know exactly how much time you are spending on each task
At the end of each week you get a report by email of your recent work week
You can easily look at reports of the last weeks or months or years and see how much time you worked on specific projects
You can also look up reports per client, per project or per team member
You can invite more team members so that everyone can work on the same workspace
Toggl is the tool I use but there are other online tools out there. Just google them and find the one you like. But overall I think it is great to keep track of your work week. And referring back to my previous blog post about planning your day as a freelancer where I wrote about planning your workweek, timing yourself helps you to understand how much time you actually need to calculate and plan with when doing your weekly to do list. It also helps you to price your services.
I really hope this was helpful for you and I would love to hear your experience with timing yourself.
Have a great and productive week
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