How to effectively manage your time

harvestDo you often feel like you have so much to do and so little time? That deadlines slip because you get bombarded with one thing after another… after another? I do.

Many, many moons ago, I wrote about Harvest, an online time tracking tool that I seriously believe is the answer to your time management woes. At the time, I think Simple and Loveable was called something else and had about 8 readers, so the fact we got 6 comments on the post made me realise I was onto something big.

A year or so on, I was in the car with Tim from Silverstripe and was pumping him for information about how to ensure all projects are delivered on time (since heading back to full time work in Decisive Flow, the new company policy is to meet deadlines 100% of the time). He said ‘we use Harvest and it’s awesome’ (or words to that effect).

So I signed up again.

It’s come a long way. It’s really embarrassing to enter your work day in in 15 minute slots because you leap from one thing to another so quickly, it’s really tragic to look back at a day and wonder how much time you wasted jumping back and forward.

So you stop doing it.

Harvest forces you to manage your day, to create larger time slots and spend those time slots focused on one thing. It helps you track project profitability – the old trick of getting a big budget project then spending way too long on it just doesn’t cut it when you see the numbers in black and white… It even helps you keep each other on track. I am going to use our reports on Monday for our weekly team meeting so we can analyse where we are going wrong and work out how to fix it.

James has gone one step further and fills his day in before he begins – this is a smart move because when you have your day mapped out to the minute, it’s hard to get off track, and when you do, you alter the numbers.

The thing with a service business is, every hour counts. You only earn money when you are billing and it’s terribly easy to get distracted. I’m not the kind of person to demand timesheets to ensure everyone is working the right number of hours…. But I am the kind of person who dreams about working less and living more and I’m convinced that the key problem for most people is how ineffectively we use our time. One week into our trial, I signed up for a paying version… I figure in the next month, Harvest will ensure that we change the way we work enough to earn it’s keep ten times over. I love it, you will to.

UPDATE: ha ha I LOVE the sound of this Firefox extension