For too many people out there, time tracking is a painful experience. At best it’s seen as a necessary evil. At worst, it feels something like this:
No one enjoys rushing to plug data into their timesheets late on a Friday. And no one enjoys having to be the person who hounds everyone to submit their timesheets.
Thankfully, time tracking doesn’t have to involve constantly cajoling your team. It can be painless—even fun! Here are five ways to make time tracking easy (read: realistic) so that your team will actually do it.
1. Give People Options
No one likes being told what to do. That’s especially true of time tracking. What works for you might not work for someone else. The key is to give people different ways to enter their time.
For those who prefer an old-school timesheet, let them go in at the end of the day and enter all their time at once. For those who find this onerous, give them the ability to start and stop a timer as they change tasks throughout the day. You’d be surprised how many of your time tracking problems will be solved by a functional timer that doesn’t get in the way.
2. Work Tracking Into Your Team’s Workflow
Part of giving people options involves integrating time tracking into your team’s workflow.
On a high level, your team probably spends most of its day in one or two core tools. Maybe Trello is where you go to keep on top of projects. Maybe your devs are always in GitHub. If you can add a timer directly to these tools, you take away a lot of the friction of time tracking. Harvest, for example, lets you track time right from your Trello cards using the Harvest Power-Up:
Individually, however, every person’s workflow is a little different from everyone else’s. Some people like to work from their desktops, some organize everything in their browsers, others are glued to their mobile devices. Make sure timers work where your team likes to work.
3. Make Review Painless
Reviewing timesheets can be a major time suck for project managers—especially if it involves digging through spreadsheets. Make sure your time tracking system supports your PMs. The ability to set up automatic reminders, giving people a friendly nudge, can take the manual labor out of following up. The same goes for an automatic timesheet approval process.
Your time tracking tool should also collate the data it collects into reports that let you see at a glance if everything is kosher. As an added bonus, choose an option that integrates with your project management tools. Harvest, for example, lets you attach a time report to Trello cards, so you can see how much time has gone into each card.
4. Commit To Transparency
Lots of companies insist people track time without explaining why it’s necessary. Your team will be a lot more willing if they understand why it’s important for the business and how it impacts them. If you’re open with your team about how time tracking allows you to keep project budgets under control so you don’t lose money on a project or give clients more accurate estimates, employees will understand. Give them a stake in running the business by showing how their time tracking efforts affect the bottom line (and what that bottom line is).
Time tracking also provides insight that can be useful on an individual level. We’d all like to be more productive, but it’s hard to know where to start. Time tracking lets you know what’s taking up too much time and what’s being neglected. It can help you uncover your most productive hours, and get to know your ultradian rhythm. Opening up the data from time tracking to your employees and aligning it with their goals can make time tracking more valuable on a personal level.
5. Make Time For Fun
At first glance, turning time tracking into a fun activity seems like a stretch. You can probably already see your team rolling their eyes. But there’s no reason it can’t be something they look forward to. Cue, a little gamification.
Maybe you could offer a fun award at the end of the year for the person who most consistently tracked time, or merit badges for each person who crosses a new time tracking threshold. Track your team’s completion percentages, and plan to have a party when 100 percent of the office gets their timesheets in on time!
Have you done something creative to make time tracking fun in your office? What strategies work best for you when it comes to convincing your team to track time?
Good or bad, we'd love to hear your thoughts. Find us on Twitter (@trello)!