I was talking with some friends yesterday and mentioned the power of time tracking. It’s not that everyone should track time all the time, but you almost have to track time in order to be able to be productive.

Here’s why

  1. We all have the same time each day.
  2. The choice is how to spend that time.
  3. Most of us don’t know how long it takes us to do certain tasks, underestimating by nearly half.
  4. Until you know how long tasks take, you can’t predictably plan.

It’s this reason I think the secret to productivity is predictably knowing how long each task will take you.

If someone asks you to do a specific job, you can only be predictably productive if you can accurately predict how long it will take you to do the task.

An analogy

Think about it like a market. We all have the same money (time). If you don’t know how long each task will take you, it’s like you’ve taken off all the price tags. You’re selecting tasks and not knowing the cost until you go to pay.

Perhaps you can make accurate time predictions without time tracking, but I’ve found it essential.