A New Year for New Business — Why You Need to Invest in Time Tracking

Corina Ludwig
Corina Ludwig

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The end of the year is a time when many of us step back from our daily grind to think about ways to make next year a better one. We resolve to make personal changes that will improve our lives, like eating healthier or exercising more. The sad truth is, though, that most of us have difficulty keeping these worthy resolutions beyond the first few weeks of January. Why? Often it’s because we’re trying to do it on our own. Without someone to keep us accountable and support us as we work towards our personal goals, we find it far too easy to give up and slip back to old habits.

It’s the same at work. The creative industry demands quick reaction to emerging challenges, meeting crushing deadlines, coasting on the high of creativity, and letting the boring business system stuff slide. Looking back at the end of the year, we see more clearly that we need to focus our New Year’s resolutions to improve the way we handle the "business" of creativity.

Time is the ultimate new business New Year's resolution. You need time to do your best work and develop ideas to their fullest, time to reflect on past projects, current and future clients, and staff productivity, time discover new markets and technology, to get a feel for emerging trends, and to focus on better ways of doing business. But to find time for all this, you need to know where you’re spending your time now. You need to conquer, once and for all, the time tracking and project management conundrum, embrace timesheets, learn what they can do for your business, and choose an effective time tracking and project management system.

Here are six tips to help you find the right time tracking and project management system for your company:

1) Scribble, ponder, and list.

Every time you think of something you need in a time and project management product or system, scribble it down. Think about the specific pain points you need to address, and make a list of must-have and nice-to-have capabilities, as well as features you definitely don’t need or want. A system that is too complex is almost worse than one that is too simple.

2) Search and select.

Familiarize yourself with the options, and think about the way your particular business works. Look for a system that has a reasonable cost-benefit ratio, that is quick and simple to set up, and that doesn’t have an overwhelming learning curve for your team. If it’s not easy to use, no one will use it!

3) Read and review.

Schedule time to review your research, add new information, and fine-tune your list of requirements.

4) Shortlist, delegate, and test.

Build a shortlist of the systems that seem most appropriate to your current needs and that provide flexibility for the future. You can delegate in-depth research of a system or systems to others or delegate some of your usual tasks so you can do software and systems research yourself. Look for demo versions of your shortlist systems, and put them through their paces to see if they do what they claim.

5) Contact.

Call your shortlist of time and project management suppliers to ask any questions you may have. This is a crucial step because it gives you insight not only into the product or system itself, but also into the kind of support and service you will get if you buy. You should be able to talk with a real person -- someone who knows the product inside out and who can answer your questions quickly and knowledgeably.

6) Decide and buy.

That is what makes an effective new business resolution. Don't put it off. Once you've done your research and settled on a system, keep the momentum going by making a decision, purchasing, and getting it up and running. The sooner you decide, the sooner you'll start to see the improvements you are looking for.

Every New Year’s resolution involves a change in behavior, but once a new habit is in place, it often spurs additional positive changes. For example, improved fitness often leads to healthier eating, losing weight encourages you to get more exercise, and quitting a bad habit gives you time and money to take up a new interest.

It’s the same with your new business resolution. Implementing an effective time and project management system will not only give you more time to focus on building your business, but it will also lead to better planning and estimating for every project you undertake, improve workflow, increase transparency, and boost relationships with clients. Perhaps most importantly, it will increase profitability and productivity across the board.

Where to start? Right here, right now.

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Topics: Time Management

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