One of the most useful tools I’ve found over my career is simple time tracking. At first I was skeptical about it. Tracking everything I do? Seems a lot like busy work. But now that I’ve done it for several years it has yielded quite interesting information on both way I work on currently but also how my use of time has evolved over the past 5.
The biggest example I can give is my splits between client, sales, practice building and administrative time. I spend far more time today on sales and practice building while having less in client and admin. This is not to say that I’m doing less critical client work or fewer projects, it’s that I do a better job working with teams. It also shows that I’m better at applying my client experience in ways that benefit the larger organization.
So what does it matter – how do I use this information to further benefit me? The biggest way is by making sure that I am still spending my time in the most effective ways. If I were spending twice as many hours to win the same amount of business as last year I’d be very concerned. If I were taking twice as long to complete projects for the same amount of revenue I’d be just as concerned.
Knowing what you are doing and why is a fundamental requirement to spending your most limited resource in the most effective ways. Life is about opportunity costs – the things you could have done if you had done things differently. Maximizing your time is how you maximize your career (and the money you make).