Time Audit and How To Spend Less Time on Your PC As a Design student

The word time Audit is pretty self-explanatory in itself, In fact, it’s so revealing and powerful that we (*that’s me*) tend to overlook it as an excuse all the time. Last week I was working on a very interesting project, but I almost spent 4 hours 20mins wireframing where I was supposed to work on the longer presentations for the final pitch. I was so glued that I couldn’t shut my PC for three days in a row

I observed this as a repetitive pattern over a few weeks, I spent so much time on the details that by 10 pm that same day, I still had an overwhelming amount of work to do.No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t break free from my computer screen, even on a SUNDAY


If you’re someone who oscillates between long hours of work and sparse periods of procrastination, please read till the end. I have an easy-to-use solution that has helped me buy more time outside work, while still remaining productive (yes!).

Auditing Time

The goal with time audit is to spend your time in a rewarding way so that you can make time doing the things that you WANT to do (outside work of course)


There is a gap between the things we wish we could be doing,  and the things we ACTUALLY end up doing on an hourly basis. And it’s the gap between these two where a time audit can help us improve.

Time auditing is like athletes measuring their macros & nutrition for increasing their performance, with a time audit you can actually check the time spent doing the things on your to-do list and how closely the two match.


Time auditing is measuring the time spent on each task while working on your pc relative to the time your pc was left ON, you can get a realistic view of where and how the majority of your time was spent working, the results may surprise you, it can also be something you hadn’t realized like logging in back and forth into apps, task switching or checking your network connection too many times.

There is an 80/20 rule that can be applied to this, which goes like this-80% of our final work output comes from only 20% of the total work you put in.

Our Effort vs Our Outcome

If that’s true, each one of us can find out blocks of time that we can slash during the day, looking at our audit reports. The problem is figuring out what the 20% to the 80% of your goal really is, while also cutting down on the 80% of the unnecessary “extra” that doesn’t add up (the former is more simple).

You can test  this over a week’s time to determine how many hours you actually spend working and how many  hours added together would you like to spend doing other things (minus sleeping)

Here are some questions to keep in mind before your time audit ⏱

  • 1.How can I effectively utilise breaks between work to rest? (this one is challenging)

2. What is the one goal/ thing I want to spend more time doing apart from work? (have a solid goal)

3. What is a personal goal that can motivate me to take more time off my pc?

Pre-requisites to Time audit

Knowing your long-term goals can also make you evaluate whether your time spent actually aligns with working towards it. My goal is to launch the portfolio page on my website:”)

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  • 1. Time tracking is problem solving πŸ“ – saving time, finishing work & getting off my pc gave me more time to rest. It’s so easy to blow it up scrolling social media, which is another thing that needs work (for me)

2. Setting boundaries for yourself ⏳ – Setting specific boundaries is so important to keep that work-life balance going. Set personal deadlines & policies for yourself, to avoid burnout. For me, it’s not working after 10 pm or checking my emails just after I wake up.

Here is How a successful time audit can help you become a happier more productive person.πŸ‘‰

  1. It can help you get actual reports on where you spend your time
  2. Help you get more rest
  3. Reduce unintentional Instagram scrolling 
  4. Help you set clear work boundaries
  5. Improve your mental health πŸ™‚

Common Fears

Tracking time every single time I started working was somewhat of a muscle to develop, I failed a couple of times, on some days I forgot to track more than one task and I could almost never do it for three days in a row for a week. The idea of time tracking can sound intimidating, and it was that fear I held for so long that made me turn away from any of these apps. 

  1. Revealing procrastination habits, we’re afraid to look at
  2. Past failures at tracking time and with actionable steps to improve time spending habits.

While most of these apps do a good job on the PC, I would also suggest you download Your Hour on your smartphone to check how long you spend there, we generally tend to switch between Phone screens and PC

Time Audit Tools

Clockify

Clockify is a free tool that you can use to track any activity on your pc, you have to start the timer every time you start a new task, you can also choose to continue the timer for the task you already finished some time ago.

Create multiple task headings and track time for billable hours. You can easily share your time reports with anyone and invite people to collaborate on the app.

Source: Trello


The best part is you can add your reports directly to google sheets (click here to integrate) using couplor.io, add this as your chrome extension and start & end the timer every time you work on a task.(click here to add couplor.io)

You can easily integrate Clockify data to your google sheets by reading this guide If you’re using a windows pc you can easily check the total time your computer was left ON by going to the performance tab inside Task Manager, which is represented by the “Up Time”.

Trello

Trello is a web-based collaboration and list-making software, you can make a project timeline and track what’s been worked on, tasks done, and work left. Trello is divided into “boards” which visually represent an entire project, working with a team.


It’s tailored perfectly to collaboration. On every list, there is a ‘card’ that represents a task to be done.πŸ“‘.

With cards you can assign tasks to collaborators, track time spent on the card, make checklists to divide a bigger task into smaller chunks & add resources or design assets as external links to the card.


You can perfectly use this for longer assignments and bigger projects even when working alone. Trello is basically project planning represented visually.


Source: Trello


I also like the ton of free-to-use templates that it comes with. They have different kinds of templates across various categories to choose from that are handy for working professionals. It comes with a 14-day free trial without a credit card, with the pro version you can use the calendar and timeline feature to set deadlines as a team (click here to view premium & pricing)


You can also use time tracking data from clockify and add it to your card to see how much time, broken down into hours and minutes, you spent on each task or ‘card’ on your list. I am using Trello to plan and break down my design portfolio.

The simplest kind of Boards on  Trello though comes with a To-do, Doing, and Done list for every day goals and college assignments, and with the clockify extension, you can actually see how much time you spent working on the items on your list.

The Bottom Line

By Understanding your time spent you can easily evaluate not only what you spend most of your time doing but this can also positively impact goal setting, help you set up priorities and once you get the hang of the software with the habit of keeping a timer, you can hopefully be a more productive person who can get more work done with less timeπŸ™‚

they give us a chance to visualize time spent with tasks completed all at one place with the overall project in mind. the best part is you can even share your results with your peers.

Trello lets you integrate your Clockify data source: Trello


Since using these two apps integrated together with a few trials and failures, I feel that I have more control over what I’m doing, I also got away with setting unrealistic to-do lists that I used to tick off anyway and this has affected my levels of procrastination and multitasking.


I could also work on some of the personal projects I had in mind apart from the everyday college assignments,  it just allowed me to see my progress more visually, and once you start getting full-day reports after making the timer a habit, it can be a way to gamify your time and achieve the goals that you want in the long run.


I hope that you give this a go and see if this system works for you. It takes a few weeks to get adjusted to the system but over time you can make room for other things you love apart from work alone❀️

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If you found this article helpful, please leave a comment and share your time management advice for busy students and tired people!

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