Advertising
Advertising

9 No-Brainer Ways to Track Employee Time

9 No-Brainer Ways to Track Employee Time

Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of those involved in the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

Here’s the question posed in this edition:

What’s your favorite tool for tracking employee/contractor time and why? (If it is your own tool, please make that clear in your answer.)

1. eBillity

David Ehrenberg

    We use eBillity (www.ebillity.com) as an app (it can also be used as “standalone” software). We love it because of its great features and ease of use. It syncs seamlessly with QuickBooks (www.quickbooks.intuit.com), both QB Premier and QB Enterprise. You can restrict which rates/customers your invited vendors can see. Their great reports can be exported to Excel or as a PDF, and the weekly time entry tool shows you the entire week entered.

    David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services

    2. FreshBooks

    Advertising

    Aaron Schwartz

      FreshBooks (www.freshbooks.com) makes it very simple to track contractor hours. The company is about 10 years old, and it’s worked out all the kinks to create a simple user interface. Two features make it a must-have. First, contractors can bill directly from FreshBooks, which gives me comfort that there wasn’t an error during manual entry. Second, the product is available across most platforms, which facilitates tracking.

      Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

      3. iDoneThis

      Nicolas Gremion

        iDoneThis (idonethis.com) helps our team plan projects, see exactly who’s doing what and record our progress as a team. This way, we can all monitor what’s going on, rather than just “the boss” knowing, which helps efficiency and teamwork.

        Nicolas Gremion, Foboko.com

        4. Trust

        Advertising

        Derek Flanzraich

          We have a totally flexible schedule and no vacation policy at Greatist because we completely trust each other to get our work done. We work extraordinarily hard, but we also recognize the balance of going to the gym and taking breaks. We know that getting enough sleep makes us better at our work!

          Derek Flanzraich, Greatist

          5. JIRA

          Robert Strazzarino

            We are a computer software company, and I’m only recommending this to other small- to medium-sized software companies. We manage all of our software tasks in JIRA (www.atlassian.com/software/jira/overview), and the “Tempo” plugin enables time reporting for all of our software development tasks. I have a 10-user pack, so all of my contractors use the system for both their task lists and time tracking. It’s hosted, inexpensive and customizable.

            Robert Strazzarino, College Scheduler LLC

            6. Productivity

            Advertising

            patrick curtis

              I like to measure productivity, not time. I don’t want to force my contractors to give me screen captures, however, I do expect regular updates. If they aren’t working at the pace I expect, I will communicate that up front, instead of getting upset.

              Patrick Curtis, WallStreetOasis.com

              7. ClientSpot

              Andrew Angus

                ClientSpot (www.myclientspot.com) has been a great tool for solving this problem. It does everything we need for a very reasonable price. The key for us was tracking time on projects and doing it cost-effectively, and this did it!

                Andrew Angus, Switch Video

                8. oDesk

                Advertising

                Benji Rabhan

                  oDesk is an oldie, but a goody (www.odesk.com). We use this for our entire team, or times when we have to hire out for special projects. It’s known for a reason, and well worth the investment.

                  Benji Rabhan, MorrisCore

                  9. TimeFox

                  Zach Cutler

                    My favorite tool for tracking employee/contractor time is TimeFox (www.functionfox.com/products.aspx): a high-quality project management software that uses actions and deadlines as a way to overview and track your employees’ assignments and due dates.

                    Zach Cutler, Cutler Group

                    More by this author

                    9 No-Brainer Ways to Track Employee Time Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Things Entrepreneurs Should Stop Doing Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Best Note Taking Tools Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Tips for Mastering Public Speaking Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Tasks You Should be Outsourcing

                    Trending in Work

                    1 Feel like Giving Up? 16 Way to Help Entrepreneurs Stay Motivated 2 How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details 3 Make Everyone At The Office Happy By Installing This 4 10 Tools to Start an Online Business without Breaking the Bank 5 How to Become an Entrepreneur (A Serial Entrepreneur’s Advice)

                    Read Next

                    Advertising
                    Advertising
                    Advertising

                    Published on January 7, 2021

                    How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

                    How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

                    Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

                    If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

                    Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

                    You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

                    When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

                    Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

                    In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

                    Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

                    3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

                    Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

                    Advertising

                    1. Respect deadlines
                    2. Understand the work-flow plan
                    3. Build in time to mess up

                    1. Respect Deadlines

                    Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

                    One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

                    2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

                    Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

                    3. Build in Time to Mess Up

                    You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

                    Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

                    For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

                    Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

                    This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

                    Advertising

                    Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

                    Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

                    Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

                    When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

                    12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

                    Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

                    1. Learn to Listen Well

                    You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

                    Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

                    2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

                    Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

                    Advertising

                    3. Follow Rules

                    Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

                    4. Take Notes

                    Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

                    5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

                    When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

                    As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

                    6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

                    If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

                    7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

                    English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

                    8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

                    Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

                    9. Minimize Distractions

                    It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

                    Advertising

                    If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

                    10. Take Breaks

                    It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

                    11. Make Time for Reflection

                    At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

                    12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

                    This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

                    Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

                    Final Thoughts

                    Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

                    When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

                    More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

                    Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

                    Reference

                    Read Next