Here is some helpful advice to make time tracking easier (cough, less painful, cough).
Don’t Wait Too Long Before you Log in your Time
It’s better to spend 3 minutes every day to log your time than 1 painful hour at the end of the week (because let’s be honest, Monday is far away when we have reached Friday). Or worse, skipping a week will lead not only to a longer time needed to log your time, but shitty data since there is no way you’ll be able to remember accurately what you spent your time on weeks ago. We tend to forget very quickly where we spent our time. Try to remember what you did one hour ago. Not so bad? Now what did you do yesterday? And 3 days ago? Not only difficult, but imprecise as well (which is not what we aim for when tracking time).
Tie Activities to Projects as Much as Possible
Tying activities to the related projects allows you to improve accountability. This way, you will have a clear picture of the efforts spent on each project. Meetings and emails related to a project should be logged in this very project, not in administrative tasks (even if those kinds of activities sound like administrative work).
I think it is now common knowledge that multitasking affects productivity. As stated by Nancy K. Napier, “the brain doesn’t really do tasks simultaneously, as we thought (hoped) it might”. Instead, moving from one task to another costs time, leads to mistakes, and saps energy. Don’t fool yourself by pretending you are part of the 2% supertaskers:
So, not only stopping multitasking could improve your productivity by 40% (and this is why Lisa Quast strongly advises you to stop doing it and provides some tips about it), but it will also make it a lot easier to know where you spend your time. And this not only means better reporting (which may not be the most convincing reason for you to carefully track your time, yet will be much appreciated by your manager), but also enables you to manage your time better (and by doing so, improve your productivity).⁂