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What Is a Time Log? Time Tracking Basics

A time log is a chronological set of written records detailing employee activities with a time stamp. These time tracking records are used for internal analysis and optimization of work.

When you get an accurate picture of the time taken by employees to complete tasks, you can eliminate low-value activities and invest your time in activities that contribute to your success. Small business and freelancers can use time logs to track billable hours, time spent on projects and assess the time management by team members.

What this article covers:

What Are Activity Logs?

The time spent on certain tasks by you and your employees are recorded in activity logs. It is a comprehensive record of the tasks, the date and time taken to complete these tasks. These logs are sequentially ordered and displayed.

Activity logs, also known as time logs, allow you to systematically study how you and your employees spend your time and help in building better time management processes in the organization. It’s one of the quickest ways to identify the activities on which time is being wasted and figure out how you can become more efficient.

The time logs also allow you to track changes in your energy, alertness and effectiveness throughout the day, and they help you eliminate time-wasting activities so that you can be more productive.

They’re not maintained on a daily basis. Rather, every few months, you log your time for a day or two

How to Maintain Activity Logs

The key to maintaining accurate activity logs is attention to details. You need to be as specific as possible to get a complete picture of how you’re currently using your time. The only way to do that is by either writing it down or using a time tracking software.

  1. To format an activity log book, you require lined paper or an online spreadsheet
  2. Make columns for date, activity description, duration and the value of each activity (high, medium or low)
  3. List your daily tasks at the top of the sheet and split each task into columns
  4. Log your activities throughout the day
  5. Enter the time you begin each activity and the time you finish
  6. Log in the time you wasted in the column such as surfing online or coffee breaks
  7. Calculate the total number of hours spent on productive and unproductive activities.
  8. You can also note how you feel (alert, flat, tired, energetic, and so on) while doing the tasks.

Once you’ve logged in your time for a few days, analyze your activities. For example, you may find that you’re energetic in some part of the day and low during others. You could schedule your most important activities during the time of day when your energy levels are the highest.

Benefits of Activity Logs

There are a number of benefits of time tracking and maintain activity logs.

  • Tracking time regularly and maintaining accurate records keeps you on track to accomplish your goals
  • Maintaining activity logs is essential if you’re charging by the hour. This helps you record time against a specific client and automatically bill for tracked hours
  • It helps you identify and eliminate low-value tasks on which you may be wasting time
  • Activity logs give you an insight into the time taken to complete tasks which may be different from your initial estimates. This will help you make the necessary adjustments for similar future tasks
  • It helps you avoid procrastination and create a schedule to complete work on time

What Is a Daily Log?

In the construction business, daily logs are written records of incidents and progress on the job site such as cost overruns, manpower, change orders and weather conditions. It is maintained by the superintendent and reviewed by owners.

By recording the things that happened on the job site you’re helping yourself and the business minimize mistakes, onboard new team members faster and even shield your business from claims.

Instead of manually tracking and recording the time spent on each task, many small businesses and freelancers are switching to time tracking software.

The software allows you to focus on your work and not your time. The applications have easy-to-use timers on desktops and mobile that automatically log what you accomplished during the day, add detailed time entry notes, provide daily breakdowns of your work hours. You can also track the time that the entire team spends on the projects and view weekly and monthly time logs to analyze how productive you are.

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