Try This Dead-Simple Productivity Hack

To make the most of your side hustle hours, try this super-simple productivity hack: tracking your time.

There are a bunch of fancy apps that will do this for you (Toggl is one I’ve used in the past), but for my latest trial I just logged tasks and hours in an Excel sheet.

Each day as I fired up the laptop, I’d open my Time Tracker, make a note of what time it was and what I was working on.

How it Works

To set this up, all you need is a spreadsheet with a few columns:

  • Date
  • Start Time
  • End Time
  • Duration
  • Project
  • Notes

You can create this yourself or download my free template here:

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I started this mid-July and ran through early September (and resumed again this week because it’s powerful).

How it works is you just keep the sheet open all day and log tasks as you work on them.

On the surface, this adds a few seconds of “admin time” to each task, but I believe it’s time well spent.

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Why it Works

I believe this works because it “gamifies” your work time. All of a sudden when I’m “on the clock” to complete a task, I’m more motivated to get it done efficiently.

I found myself jumping into email or social media with less frequency, and found myself more determined to see a task through to completion so I could cross it off and enter in a “stop time.”

This may be entirely placebo, kind of like the cold shower thing, but if something as simple as writing start and stop times in Excel can make me more focused, I’m OK with that.

And that’s not to say there aren’t any big unexplained gaps, breaks, or “staring off into space” time. That stuff still happens; it just happens less.

My buddy Tom Morkes reported a 238% increase in output after he started tracking his time.

Tiny psychology hacks for the win!

Note: I think you could even use this in your day job and see some fun results.

Other Benefits

If you track your time consistently (and honestly), you’ll have some very interesting data after a few weeks.

Here’s how you may be able to use your Time Tracking results.

  1. Identify Tasks to Eliminate
  2. Identify Tasks to Delegate
  3. Identify Where Your Hours are REALLY Going

One thing I was curious to find out in this recent study was if certain tasks were really worth the time I put into them. If you don’t know how long they take, it’s much more difficult to make that call.

Time Tracking is HUGE for finding outsourcing opportunities. The first time I did this a few years ago, I found several hours of work a week that I soon was able to send off to a virtual assistant.

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And perhaps most interesting, both for active income and passive income businesses, is finding out how much time it really takes to get things done.

Your Turn

Give the Time Tracking productivity hack a shot and let me know what you think. Do you find yourself getting more done simply by keeping track?

I’m ready for some untracked time — gotta go finish The Martian!

Want to see where my hours went? Stay tuned next week.

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