Monday, August 18, 2008

Time Tracking

"Oh, oh, what I want to know-oh / Where does the time go?" -- Grateful Dead, Uncle John's Band

I'm going on leave next week, so as a way to make sure I'm thorough about giving the right "turnover" to the person who's going to stand in for me, I'm doing something that I thought would be a huge pain but is turning out to be kind of cool -- time-logging.

I mean, I no kidding have a voice recorder that I speak into before meetings, before running down tasks for the boss, and just at random points in the day. With it come little commentaries explaining what it is I'm doing, what not to forget, who to go to for questions, etc. At the end of the day I do a quick transcription of everything I record.

What I'm finding is that it's helping me at least as much as it will help him.

Here's why:

a) Helps understand where the day really goes. I don't think there's a working person anywhere in America that's never had this feeling -- you've been working hard all day, and you know you've been busy for what felt like each second, but at the end of the day you look at the clock -- it's quitting time and you have no idea what you just did. This helps answer that question.

b) On some level, it forces me to be more aware. Because I know I'm logging what I'm doing, even if the audience is only myself, one other person, and my eventual, yet-unnamed relief at the command down the line, I'm sure it focuses me a bit to know there are more sets of eyes on what I'm doing. A little consciousness-raising is probably a good thing for anyone...in fact, it makes me think of Matt and Shannon's comments to the cleanliness post -- a lot of what's going to make you successful is just maintaining your own awareness level of what you're doing.

c) Down the road, it will lead to greater efficiency. Once I have time to let the transcript of the recorder sit on its own for a while, I can come back to it with a critical eye and find better ways to do my job... "I spent ___ hours that week doing what?!!??" is the reaction I'm hoping to have.

It may be a pain, but I recommend trying this, if even for a single day.

What you find out might surprise you.

5 comments:

Matt said...

Yup.

Based on one of your old posts about recording your exercise/push-up regiment, I recently tapes an index card to my computer, drew a calendar on it, and at the every day wrote down the number of pages I wrote. It increased my production by at least 50%.

A little extra awareness leads to a lot of accountability.

The New Englander said...

Great stuff, and glad to hear that worked for you...it's funny even though I'm the only person that's ever really going to pay any attention to the little recorder gizmo thing, somehow it makes me feel more accountable and just give that second thought to what I'm doing, and why.

I hear that works with dieting and budgeting, too...people have amazing successes when they just force themselves to be more aware..

-gp

Shannon said...

Greg,

Thats brilliant,

I did something similar when my expenses were giving me trouble. At the end of the day I could swear that I was missing at least 40 dollars.So every time I pulled money out of my wallet, I wrote in my planner exactly what I bought and how much I paid. I couldn't believe how many times I had to write in my planner. Isn't that funny? Didn't notice the money going out, just the amount of times I wrote it down and the list that I ended up with at the end of the day. The amount of money I spent on gas was the biggest shocker, along with fast food and snacks.

I never thought of a tape recorder in the way you use it, I will definitely have to try it!
-Shannon

The New Englander said...

Shannon,

The good news is that the little thing I picked up at Radio Shack is digital, so no messing around with tapes..it's funny, the two things I always hear about people doing with this idea are dieting and budgeting -- somehow when you're paying closer attention, it just brings about that little bit of accountability that pushes you towards where you want to go...great stuff.

best,
gp

The New Englander said...

Shannon,

The good news is that the little thing I picked up at Radio Shack is digital, so no messing around with tapes..it's funny, the two things I always hear about people doing with this idea are dieting and budgeting -- somehow when you're paying closer attention, it just brings about that little bit of accountability that pushes you towards where you want to go...great stuff.

best,
gp