Time Management

Using Toggl Time Tracking As A Writer – Case Study


I work for Crunch Accounting as a writer. I produce content for our own sites and also write about other subjects, such as freelancing, accounting and business, for other sites too. I’m given fairly free reign in what I get up to and so it’s down to me to make sure I hit my targets and make me worth the salary I’m paid. Unfortunately, I am a master of procrastination.

Toggl was recommended to me and the other writers here as a way to track how we spent our day. That’s not to say it was a way for others to keep tabs on what we were up to, but as a way for us to get a better idea on what use we make of our time. It can be pretty easy to lose a sense of how much of the day gets spent on a task when your pretty fluid with your daily structure. If you were to ask me to tell you the percentage of time I spent pitching over the last week I would genuinely have no idea.

This where Toggl offered its first use. It gave me a much clearer idea of what I was doing all day. After getting into the habit of not forgetting to stop and start Toggl with each new job, I was able to easily track everything and start to get a proper and realistic idea of how much time I give to my tasks.

When I went over the results for a full week of work, it offered a lot of interesting information that I was able to use to assess how productive I was really being. I noticed an imbalance between the importance of tasks and how much time I was spending on them. This meant I adjusted what I was doing to get the most out of the day and get a better picture of how I was spending my time at work.

What was most impressive about using Toggl was how it helped me combat my incessant procrastination. You get a sense of satisfaction from watching your timer tick away as you race against it to complete a task. It spurs you on to get things done quicker and quicker to see if you can beat your old time and become more efficient. As sad as it sounds, I looked forward to being able to press the stop button once I’d finished whatever it was I was doing. In a sense, I begun to use Toggl to gamify my own work.

Equally importantly, it made me feel a bit guilty when I’d start browsing the internet and laughing at cat pictures. I could feel this ‘dead time’ building up and knew that come the end of the week, my tally would have a disappointing gap where work should be, and instead could have been labelled as “making witty comments on Facebook” or “scrolling through Tumblr”.

Toggl begun to act as an encouragement to stop wasting time and to get on with something proper. While I see these mini-breaks as quite important to how I work, I was giving far too much time to them. This was something I didn’t realise until I was recording exactly what I got up to and for how long.

All in all, Toggl has helped me to analyse what I’m working on to make sure I’m placing my energy in the right places and it’s got me to stop putting off work with useless distractions all the time. It’s also been very helpful in comparing times with other writers to see how we’re all working. I wish I’d heard of the thing earlier.

March 24, 2014