Maximise your weekly performance report from focus booster with time auditing

Time is a precious resource; one you cannot repurchase.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't take the time to learn how it can be put to better use.

Interestingly, most people think they know precisely how they spend their time. But, there's a wild difference between how you think you're spending your time and how you're actually spending it.

It's called the intention/action gap. It affects most of us, and we're often not aware of it.

Say you're a freelance writer, do you know how much time you spend writing instead of admin duties and planning, client meetings, calls, and researching?

Suppose you spend 60% of your working hours on non-billable tasks. In that case, you're losing money—but you can't rectify the problem until you identify it.

To avoid those disheartening days when you've hardly scraped the surface of your to-do list, the answer isn't to spend more time; it's to take control of your time.

Introducing a time audit into your weekly routine helps you uncover some real truths about your working hours.

Young freelance working working on computer in home office
Credit: Photo by Per Lööv on Unsplash

What is time auditing?

Time auditing provides you with data you can review to identify the behaviours and processes you might need to change.

To put it simply;

  • It keeps track of what you do in a day
  • How long tasks are taking you
  • What tasks are your time drains
  • What days of the week you're getting distracted

For time auditing to be it's most effective, you'll need to track your time over a week (minimum) to examine how you spend your time versus how you want to spend your time.

Once you have this information, you can form realistic productivity goals, optimise your schedule, and remove low-value tasks from your day. You can identify opportunities to be more efficient and increase your productivity.

Increasing your productivity helps you stay on task and complete projects on time. Meaning a happier you, happier clients and more money in your pocket on time.

Let's dig into the details of time auditing with six easy steps.

1. How do you intend to spend your time this week?

Before we get to the data, think about what a day should like for you to feel achieved?

Achievement will look different to each person but, it also holds the same meaning across the board; making steady progress towards a well-defined goal. It could be exercising, quality time with your partner, or sleeping. These are all productive tasks working towards a purpose; a healthy work/life balance. Relaxation, interaction, and sleep are necessary to maintain your best physical and intellectual capacity.

If your drive for achievement comes from completing your planned work tasks for the day, then great. But, it's important to remember that no one is productive for 100% of their day.

Let's say you're a freelance writer who allows 40 hours a week for client work and business management. That's 8 hours a day, Monday to Friday.

Of course, you should also take breaks throughout the day to avoid burnout, stretch and remember to eat!

The pomodoro technique suggests a 5-minute break after each 25-minute pomodoro session, and one 20-minute long break after every four 25-minute pomodoro sessions. So, this 40-hour workweek looks more like 33 productive hours.

Now, list 3-5 goals and the time you would like to spend on tasks important to you and your business.

For example;

  • Business development: 10% of my time - 03:30 per week - 7 pomodoro sessions.

Intention: To spend 7 pomodoro's a week on networking, marketing and pitching.

  • Research and write articles: 50% of my time - 16:30 hours per week - 33 pomodoro sessions.

    Intention - Spend 33 pomodoro's a week on billable writing jobs.

    Note: The time you allocate here depends on your ideal weekly revenue from billable jobs. We'll go into more detail about this later in the article.

  • Education: 10% of my time - 03:30 per week - 7 pomodoro sessions

    Intention - To spend 7 pomodoro's a week learning something new to develop my career.

  • Admin and client communication: 10% of my time - 03:30 per week - 7 pomodoro sessions

    Intention - Spend 7 pomodoro's a week responding to client communication, finance tasks etc.

As you can see, these intentions equal to 27 productive hours, leaving 6 hours spare. These intentions don't fill 100% of the planned 33 hours, and they shouldn't.

That's the beauty of time management; it's about being realistic and allowing time for tasks that may take a little longer than planned or, unplanned tasks.

To help you map out your pomodoro sessions each day, focus booster's free pomodoro planning resource will come in handy. In line with these intentions, your pomodoro daily planner could represent something like this, dependant on what you want to achieve today:

focus booster weekly pomodoro planning resource

Now we know how to plan our days out in pomodoro sessions in line with your intentions for the week ahead. Let's talk about staying accountable and keeping track of whether these intentions are realistic.

2. Use focus booster's pomodoro timer to record and track your time

focus booster is a simple pomodoro timer app that keeps track of your time.

With enough pomodoro data, the session and dashboard reports reveal how you spent your time.

Your dashboard reports show the total sessions, time, or percentage of time spent on each client. To analyse the data against your original intentions and make tracking easier, set up a client for each work area and utilise session labels for tasks.

  • Client - Business development

    Label/s - Networking, marketing, pitching

  • Client - Client A, Client B etc.

    Label/s - Blog post, article research, keyword research. (Here you will track your time spent on billable tasks for the allocated client)

  • Client - Career development

    Label/s - Reading, short course, education

  • Client - Business Administration

    Label/s - Emails, client communication, finance

In addition to setting up your client's, enter your agreed hourly rate in each client's profile.

Your client management area will look something like this:

focus booster client management feature how to set up your client list

After a week of time tracking, you'll receive a weekly performance report in your inbox come Monday, showing your total pomodoro's and productive time.

3. What is in the weekly performance report?

focus booster weekly performance email report example

1. Pomodoros

Whether you're using focus booster's web or desktop app, you can confidently work knowing that every minute is recorded with the pomodoro timer.

Pomodoros measures your total pomodoro count for the week, including;

  • Complete sessions: Sessions that ran for the full length of the time set in your preferences, for example, 25-minutes.
  • Incomplete sessions: Interrupted sessions, for example, a pomodoro session manually stopped before the timer had finished.

You'll see a break down of how many complete and incomplete sessions were recorded too.

2. Productive time

Your productive time equates to the total number of minutes the timer has recorded for your pomodoro sessions.

Again, this includes both complete and incomplete pomodoro sessions. For example, x4 25-minute pomodoro sessions = 100-minutes of productive time (01:40).

If one pomodoro session was interrupted at 10-minutes (an incomplete pomodoro session), then x1 25-minute pomodoro session + x1 10-minute pomodoro session = 35-minutes of productive time (00:35).

3. Best day

The best day in your productivity report equates to the day of the week where the most number of pomodoro sessions were recorded.

Your 'best day' provides an understanding of a peak time when you were alert, focused and excited to work on a project involving problem-solving, decision-making, and complex thoughts.

As you receive these reports over time, you'll begin to understand your trends. For example, suppose Monday is often your most productive day. In that case, this is a good indicator that you should be scheduling your most important tasks (MIT's) on Monday's.

MIT's should leave you feeling as though you've made progress; it should be meaningful. Because when progress is made in meaningful work, you feel satisfied.

4. Comparison to the previous week

Now we know what we're looking at when the weekly performance reports come through and what this data means to you, over time more data will start to flow through in your weekly reports, showing a comparison of your previous week's work.

This section gives you a good indicator of how your weeks stack up against each other, productivity-wise, and if you're on track to reach your goals.

Here you'll see;

  • The total pomodoro sessions recorded last week
  • The productive time this equates to
  • Whether you were less or more productive this week, based on data.
  • Your best day last week

As mentioned earlier, over time, you can understand if there is a trend with your best day of the week. You can see Monday was my best day too, but I was more productive this week.

Now you have a baseline, visit your dashboard reports to dig a little deeper into this data to see if your intentions match the focus booster data.

4. Understanding your time tracking data

focus booster's dashboard reports display how you've spent your time for any period. We'll be looking at the past week for this article's purpose.

On your dashboard reports, select the date range to the past week and filter to display your reports by 'time.'

focus booster dashboard reports date filtering how to

Your 'time by client' report is an insightful pie graph to help you with your time audit. Right away, I can see that my intentions are off.

focus booster time by client pie graph dashboard report

Business development

  • Intention: 03:30
  • The data shows: 02:05

Billable client jobs

  • Intention: 16:30
  • The data shows: 18:20

Career development

  • Intention: 03:30
  • The data shows: 01:15

Business Administration

  • Intention: 03:30
  • The data shows: 05:55

Upon evaluation, I'm spending a lot of time on client work and admin tasks. Career and business development appear to be taking a back seat. But, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

When time auditing, the goal is to change your daily habits and routines. It's much easier to build off a current habit than create a whole new one from guesswork.

5. Set new goals and time allocations

Understanding how you're working right now is a powerful place to start.

Your dashboard provides the insight you need to set more specific goals and realign your days to suit.

Business development

  • Intention: 10% of my time - 03:30 per week - 7 pomodoro sessions
  • NEW Intention: (as before)

Research and write articles

  • Intention: 50% of my time - 16:30 hours per week - 33 pomodoro sessions
  • NEW Intention: 60% of my time - 20:00 per week - 40 pomodoro sessions

Career development

  • Intention: 10% of my time - 03:30 per week - 7 pomodoro sessions
  • NEW Intention: 5% of my time - 02:00 - 4 pomodoro sessions

Admin and client communication

  • Intention: 10% of my time - 03:30 per week - 7 pomodoro sessions
  • NEW Intention: 17% of my time - 06:00 per week - 12 pomodoro sessions

In my 33 productive hours, I'm now looking at 92% of my time spent on work, equalling 30:30 with 02:30 remaining for unplanned tasks, and tasks that may go over my allocated time.

Next week, I could look at cutting time on admin tasks. Another option is to find which client isn't making me adequate revenue for the time I spend. I could either increase my hourly rate or, give them the flick.

6. Adjust your calendar to suit your goals

Meet time blocking, a realistic daily schedule backed by your working habits.

Time blocking is to plan out your day in advance with specific "blocks" for tasks and commitments.

I enter my daily routine from 5 am, allocating time for the gym, right down to work commitments.

Time blocking calendar example

Setting up my calendar this way means I'm taking control of time, not letting time control me and better yet, it's based on real data, not just what I think my schedule should look like.

Remember, be realistic about how much time you have each day for deep work. If you know you have 8+ hours of calls or five recurring meetings a week, it's probably not realistic to schedule huge blocks of deep work every day.

It might take a few goes to get your schedule right. But once you do, you'll be in a position to make every day a good one.

How time tracking and auditing can help you set a base income level

We now understand my intentions and the reality of how I spend my time.

I mentioned earlier to set your hourly rate per client in focus booster. As you continue to record pomodoro sessions, you'll begin to see your revenue increase in focus booster too.

focus booster see a break down of sessions productive time and revenue for any date period

focus booster revenue by client pie dashboard report

Over the last week, my billable hours generated $550.00. Which is a livable income but, I want to make more.

My first thought is to take on another client. But, this isn't necessarily a smart option. I already know 92% of my 40-hour workweek is used. Taking on a new client will eat into my allocated break times (something vital to my output quality).

Some options I could consider are:

  1. Spend less time on non-billable tasks.
  2. Increase my hourly rates.
  3. Increase my working hours.

I do a mix of these and the second is a moving target for us all. The important thing is, I wouldn't have these numbers to work with if I weren't tracking my time.

I know how much billable work I need to bring in each week, the time this takes and how it impacts my goals for the year.

Leverage your stats for progress

Changing a habit, routine, or schedule can be a bumpy road. Our brains are creatures of habit; that's why it's so common to slip back into old ways.

With a system in place and accountability from a partner, tool, or calendar is necessary for progress.

Because time + productivity = progress.

Time auditing isn't about increasing your workload; it's about prioritising and becoming as productive as you possibly can. Performing regular time audits assures you're using your time wisely. You'll start to find ways to minimise distractions and eliminate tasks, keeping you from completing profitable work.

When you become aware your every minute is tracked, you'll begin to feel more productive and start acknowledging your efforts thanks to data. You'll see your progress to use this as a baseline to improve your work overtime and supply realistic time estimates to clients in the future.

How are you leveraging your weekly performance reports? Let us know in the comments!