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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 28: Quick-Log Your Workday

Level Easy

Platform All

Cost Free

Keeping tabs on what you actually spend your time doing is not an easy task, but keeping a daily log of your work can help and also provide other benefits.

A daily work log helps you become a better time estimator. By becoming aware of how long things actually take, you can more realistically estimate the length of future assignments and budget your time — and for those who bill by the hour, money — more accurately. A work log enables you to get a real picture of your job responsibilities and how they line up with your ideal time map; it also enables you to look back at a day or week and have a concrete idea of where your time went. It can help you identify time sinks and make strategic decisions about what you can delegate, add, or simply delete from your schedule.

When you start keeping a daily work log, you might be surprised to find out what your workday really consists of.

When keeping a work log, you have several options, from paper to a plain text file to a quick-logger app.

Paper

A plain notebook or standard desk diary with dates on each page is an easy way to jot down what you’ve accomplished in a day.

For a more specialized work log form, designer Dave Seah created the Emergent Task Timer. This form uses rows of small boxes, each representing 15 minutes of time. You fill out the form as the day progresses, as shown in Figure 3-2.

Figure 3-2: Dave Seah’s Emergent Task Timer printable PDF form.

Seah’s ...

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