Time Management for Busy Startups: Toggl

At SkEye Studios, we’re passionate about using technological resources available to us.  While there are surely hundreds of helpful office management/small business tools out there, we use some more than others on a daily basis. As SkEye’s adamant organizer, let me introduce you to Toggl — a time tracker that has revolutionized our workflow.

THE DETAILS

THE APPLICATION: Toggl

THE PURPOSE: Time Tracker

PRICE: $9/month per user (ranges from free to $49)

FIND IT: www.toggl.com

TIME FOR TRACKING

Like many busy people, we recognize that our time is as (if not more) valuable as money.  And as millennials, we’re also really good at wasting time.  I think we can all agree that there are definitely days when the clock hits 5 p.m., and we wonder what the heck we did all day…or maybe that’s just me.  However, just tracking our time usage has helped us to become more economical and more aware of the the things we do that are not delivering a return on our invested time.

Toggl is a time-tracking, productivity application.  It can be downloaded as a desktop or phone app, or it can be used natively on it’s website.  It has four levels of subscription, based on your company’s needs.  Right now, the second level, “Pro,” is best for us.

WHAT WE USE IT FOR

  • Keeping track of billable hours per project/client
  • Exporting & reviewing reports of project tasks (pre-production, production, web, etc.)
  • Personal accountability & time management

Toggl is most beneficial by allowing us to set up each project we’re currently working on and track the time that we’re spending on each “task” or each aspect, from conception of an idea to production to post-production and administration.  At first, we created a task for every little thing we may have done within a project.  For example, a contract of a home page video and website might have had several dozen tasks like motion graphics, coloring, proposal, ideation, shooting, set up, storyboarding, billing, etc.  Now, we group all these tasks into five components:  admin, pre-production, production, post-production, and website.  This makes it much easier to compare project to project how we’re getting better at managing our time.

THE PROS

  • Clean and Modern – As you begin using Toggl, it is easy to name what you’re doing and click start/stop.  The reporting is equally as clean.  The reports can be very surface-level, or they can track deep into a project or individual’s time.
  • Adaptable – Available in desktop, online, or mobile format.
  • Deep – There is no limit to the projects, clients, or tasks that can be tracked.
  • Reports – In depth reporting, we use it for better understanding the time we’re spending vs. how much we budgeted.

What I like best about Toggl is how it has helped me become more aware of how I’m spending my day.  I have to be honest about time that is ultimately unproductive.  Some days, I realize that I had a more distracted, less productive day; others, the reverse is true.  Mostly, however, Toggl has helped us to increase the speed at which we complete projects.

THE CONS

  • No Integration – When we started using Toggl, it integrated with Basecamp 2.  When we updated to Basecamp 3, there was no integration ability.
  • Price – It is a little steep to be tracking time for $9 per user per month.  Even now, I think, “Man, should I be looking into other time-tracking software?
  • Simplicity – In some ways, Toggl is so simple that it’s easy to get lost by not developing best practices as a team.

To me, the biggest drawback to Toggl is the price per user.  This summer, we’ll be adding five interns to our staff, and in turn, add them to Toggl.  Unfortunately, that’s an additional $45 per month, which, in my opinion is not necessary.  I’d also say that after using Toggl for about four months consistently, we’re just now developing best practices for ourselves.

THE TAKEAWAY

My best advice—especially for start-ups and small businesses—is to start tracking your time.  Every working moment, track what you’re doing.  Do that for at least a month.  Most time tracking applications have a free version.  If you’re taking it to your co-workers as well, remind everyone whenever you think to do it.  Keep one another accountable.  After a month, pull some of the reports.  Start with the Summary.  It’s pretty amazing to realize where your time is actually being spent.  Currently, we’re working on becoming more efficient—doing our work more quickly and to the best of our abilities, effectively increasing the value of our dollar.