Managing your minutes is one of the most tedious tasks you could encounter.
Knowing exactly how long you spend on any task can make you feel like you’re in the grips of an obsessive employer who wants to know what you’re doing with every spare second. However, there are some upsides to tracking your time.
Correctly done, you can boost your work productivity levels and create a more efficient system of working, cutting down the time you spend procrastinating and multi-tasking.
One tool that claims to do just that is Toggl, the time tracking device that helps you allocate your time effectively.
To see what all the fuss was about I tried out Toggl to see if it really can help you become more productive at work.
One of the first things you notice using Toggl is that there isn’t a pause button on the timer. After a while I realised that it actually groups tasks of the same name so, rather than pausing you need to stop and create another task of the same name, which becomes tedious quickly.
The initial pressure of using Toggl can make you feel like you’re up against the clock, which obviously is the whole point. Because of this I really felt the pressure and caught myself every time I went to check an email or send a text – it made me focus on what I was doing and encouraged me not to flit between tasks.
I actually started using Toggl as a New Years resolution to understand how I was spending my time. Honestly has been one of the best shifts I have made in my work habits.
RT at your reasoning for monitoring your own time as a tool of keeping work hours in check!
— AJ Wray 🥑 (@WrayAJ) July 4, 2018
Impressed at @toggl support – Rico replied to my email in 34 minutes (and I’m only using the free tier).
That’s a service worth supporting, so I’m going to sign up as a paid user right now.
— Norm Driskell (@n0rm) July 2, 2018
However, as the day wore on, I struggled to stay quite as motivated as I was in the morning, which meant Toggl didn’t work quite as well – not really showing the true levels of my productivity for the day. It’s fair to say I could have stopped and started it every time I went over to reply to a Slack message, but it seemed like much more effort than necessary – which is probably the point so you remain on the task at hand!
Today I decided to download Toggl for Windows desktop rather than rely on the online version.
As with yesterday, I used it to track each task I completed aside from breaks – which may have been where I was going wrong. It felt like there were a lot of gaps in my workday, and the hours I was tracking felt like they were lacking slightly. This could simply be Toggl telling me that I needed to stop procrastinating and do more work, or it could be because I don’t feel inclined to track the time I don’t spend on tasks – such as lunch.
Toggl might be the first time tracking app I’ve used professionally that I don’t hate (yet)
— jeremydmiller (@jeremydmiller) June 30, 2018
I preferred the desktop version over the online version. It seemed simpler to begin a new task and to pick up where I left off on other tasks. The only trouble I had today was remembering to stop and start it once I was finishing a task and beginning a new one – not ideal when you’re trying to track the time spent! Although this will surely be something that I’ll pick up with habit.
Today seemed to run slightly smoother as I got used to starting and stopping Toggl once I was ending and beginning a task.
I used it for the smaller tasks today too, such as emailing people and updating Trello boards. It seemed pointless to begin with but after looking back at all the tasks I’ve completed during the day, it’s easy to see where the time as gone and doesn’t make you feel quite as unproductive.
The only annoyance is that push notifications are sent to the desktop every five minutes if you’re not tracking your time. This isn’t just an irritating feature – it’s a default one. I would suggest setting the default to no notification with the option to turn this on, as there’s bound to be plenty of freelancers who have their computer on for a lot of the day when they’re not actually working on a project.
I didn’t get the most use out of Toggl today after going home sick at midday, but up until then, everything ran pretty much as it had done in the previous days.
Diving into the settings you can see there’s even a Pomodoro timer, allowing you to set a timer for 25 minutes with intermittent breaks, a tried and tested technique (even by us!) that helps you do short sharp bursts of work and forces you to take rests in between so you are more productive throughout the day.
When we have to Toggl pic.twitter.com/RiiBQgYsc4
— Bo Bayerl (@BoBayerl) June 27, 2018
It’s worth knowing that Toggl isn’t just a one trick pony, with plenty of other integration options too.
Having managed to switch off the irritating pop up that asks you to track your time on Toggl all the time, it was clear that Toggl was actually a very effective method of avoiding procrastination.
I was able to see where my time was going, and how many hours out of the workday was actually spent working – opposed to how many hours were spent replying to emails and updating tasks – all part of procrastinating a bigger task.
However, today time tracking became a little irritating. Having to input everything I was doing and remembering to stop and start the time, rather than just get on with the task I needed to complete.
Having tried out Toggl for one week, it doesn’t seem like a particularly vital tool – especially not one you might pay for. While it’s a novelty to track how much work you actually do for a week, on a regular basis it seems like forgetting to track one task could throw your whole system out of place.
While there are some extra bells and whistles, Toggl really doesn’t seem to be anything other than a glorified timer, and it doesn’t claim to be anything more. It is worth noting that the project feature wasn’t of any use to me as an employee, but could be handy for freelancers or those managing multiple tasks at one time.
If you’re in need of a work boost over the slow summer days, certainly try out the free version – otherwise, stick to your own methods.
Have you given Toggl a go? What are your thoughts? Share them with the TO community in the comment section below!