Time Management Log: Keep Track of Your Tasks and Make Changes to be More Productive

Written by Domantas Vanagas

August 15, 2022

Time might be infinite for the universe but is finite for many individuals. For some people, there never seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. However, you can master your time usage by keeping a time log throughout your day.

Understanding the benefits of a time management log and how to log time properly can help you. It can break you out of a stalled career, help you get a higher level of success, and put you on the next train to promotion city! Here’s what you need to know about making a daily log.

What is Meant by Time Log?

A time log is where you track your daily events and see how long it took you to do them. When you log time, you write down the name of the task and its start and end times.

journal with today written on it

You may also integrate details about what affected your task execution and why your activity log took so long to finish. You can log time in many ways, including creating time logs for each day.

What is a Time Management Log?

A time management log is a collection of specialized pages explicitly designed to log time. Pages vary depending on the log’s designer but often include the day’s date, areas to input activities, notes to discuss each activity, and beginning and end times for each task.

When starting and finishing a task, it is best to enter information in your time log. For example, you can add a sentence discussing the task and highlight what you will do during it. You can log the official start time and set it aside while you work.

After finishing the task, you can enter the official ending time and any notes about the task. These notes are crucial because they let you comment on each activity as you finish it. It is important to log each activity accurately to use your time management log appropriately.

What is the Purpose of Keeping a Time Use Log?

Time logs help you reflect on your workday and track what you do during a week. They can be handy when working independently, such as if you travel a lot in your job. Your boss can check your time log to see what you did and ensure that you stay on task.

person writing a priority list

However, a time management log works well as a “done list” or a self-motivational tool. Essentially, it helps improve your accountability by ensuring you stay on task. You can track areas where you may need to improve efficiency and take steps to address them properly.

Other benefits of logging time include how it prevents burnout by gauging when you’re working too hard and helping you find more efficient ways of managing your time. Logging time can also reduce project costs by finding ways to increase your work focus and avoid time waste.

How Do You Do a Time Log?

Knowing how to write your time log and what information to include with each entry is important. You typically include information about each activity, how long it took, and any complications or improvements you noticed.

After logging time, you can also analyze each entry to learn more about yourself and improve your work habits. Follow these logging time tips steps to get significant results.

Step One: Start Each Entry When Beginning the Task

Before you start your task, begin your log by noting the start time, the task name, and your expected results. This information gives context for each duty and helps you measure success.

For instance, you may find that you don’t complete the task on time. You can then come back to your log later to figure out what happened and use this information to improve your efficiency.

Step Two: Complete Your Log When Finished

Put your lot down while you finish your task, focusing only on completion. After you finish, take a moment to complete the entry by noting:

  1. When you finished
  2. How well your task went
  3. Ways it prepared you for further activities

After you finish an entry, you can prepare the next task in your time log before beginning the next activity. You can also rate your task’s difficulty on a 0-10 scale to gauge long-term trends in activity difficulty. In this way, you keep a running log with accurate details.

Step Three: Add Notes About Each Task

The “Notes” section on your time log is where it gains so much of its power.

sticky notes representing urgent task list

If you write notes about each activity (including any problems you experienced), you can improve your time management in many ways. The notes will refresh your memory when you struggle to remember what happened at the end of the week. For serious time loggers, note-taking is mandatory.

Step Four: Analyze Your Log

Your daily log isn’t just a place to track your work activities. It can be a powerful tool for improving your habits. Sitting down and analyzing your log includes these simple sub-steps:

  1. Gauge why each step took as long as it did
  2. Read the notes to learn more about what happened
  3. Calculate how long a task should take
  4. Figure out why it is taking you longer or celebrate if you’re being efficient

These simple steps can help you effectively use your daily log by making it easier to adjust your work day. For example, you may find you waste too much time reading emails and find ways to streamline this process.

3 Reasons Why You Should Prepare a Time Log

Preparing a time log is a wise step for many careers. People in educational, medical, travel, and sales careers regularly use time logs. However, just about any career can benefit when you log time. 

1. When Reporting to A Boss

If you need to report to your boss regularly and they want up-to-date notes on your activities, a time management log can ensure they know what you’re doing daily.

2. If You Feel Inefficient 

Are you struggling to stay on task at work and aren’t sure why? Time logs can help you figure out where you’re inefficient and get you back on track.

3. To Prove Your Value

Workers who log time show greater attention to detail and may impress their bosses. You may earn a promotion in this way. Other reasons you may want to create a time log include when preparing your taxes and accounting for your work. 

Example of a Time Log

In this simple example, Noel (a salesperson for an at-home care company) created a time log to track his work on a Wednesday. Throughout the log, you can note the ways that he uses each section to gauge how he is using his time and how it helped him prepare for the next day:

Date: Wednesday, July 22, 20xx

Task: Preparing a sales pitch for a new customer.

Starting Time: 9:35 a.m.

Completion Time: 11:22 a.m.

Notes: Finished multiple drafts of the sales pitch and finalized it for use. Highlighted how the product could help this specific customer. I struggled a bit with the editing process when my phone went off repeatedly with unwanted social media notifications.

In this example, note that you don’t need to use complex language or log design to get great results. Noel wrote down the date and time for each task, including the specific task’s demands, starting time, and completion time. The notes section here is especially important because it gives him room to reflect on how well he completed the task and where he could improve.

Lessons You Can Learn From Your Time Log

Using our example above, it is important to note how Noel (and you) can use time logs to improve your work. For example, Noel noticed his phone distracted him heavily during work. The next day, he could put his phone on mute the next time he tries to prepare a similar pitch.

locked phone and computer

He can reflect on his day at the end of the week and see how long preparing a pitch took him. As a result, he can use that information when scheduling further pitch preparation. You can follow the same steps and get similar results when using time logs for yourself and learn even more about yourself.

For instance, you may notice in your notes that you are less efficient when working at home than at the office. As a result, you may schedule more work hours at the office to improve your efficiency and stay on task throughout the week.

5 Tips While Keeping a Time Log

To improve your log usage, here are a few simple tips that you can use when creating a time management log:

1. Log Everything You Do

Time logs are only effective when you track everything you do during the day. It would help if you tracked non-work activities, such as breaks and personal time. Doing so can help you identify places you may waste time in a day.

2. Time Yourself With a Stopwatch

While it might seem excessive, timing your tasks with a stopwatch can be useful for logging time. It forces you to note when you start each task and makes it easier to know exactly how long it takes. It also stops you from guessing.

3. Reflect When Doing an Entry

After finishing entries in your time logs, reflect on what lessons you learned. Did you work better than expected, or were you inefficient because of distractions? Put these reflections in your notes to ensure you remember them later.

4. Identify Your Time Wasters

Read through your log and spot areas where you’re wasting time. For example, you may find you spend more time than expected on social media every morning or talking with co-workers when you arrive. Cut these time wasters to improve work efficiency.

5. Put Your Log’s Lessons Into Action

Once you identify your time wasters and inefficient issue in your time log, use the lessons it teaches you to improve your efficiency. Actively changing your work habits by avoiding time wasters can help you achieve higher success.

Template of a Time Log

If you are interested in logging time, you can purchase a portable log or download and print your own. Some people prefer this step because it can save money and help them create a personalized log that fits well with their work. The following site includes a few time log templates you can print out and use this way. Use a three-ring binder to hold these pages and create your simple and inexpensive time management log.

Conclusion

If you want to use time logs to log time at your job, it is critical to make sure you follow the suggestions listed in this article. We did the difficult research needed to help in this process and feel comfortable suggesting these steps to just about anybody. So get out there and get started! Note that you can integrate your to-do list into your logging to ensure you stay more on task.

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