My 30 Day Experiment in Time-Tracking

I’m never bored at ConvertKit. Never have I twiddled my thumbs and thought “Whelp, not sure what to do, I’ll just go ask someone”.

But I often found myself doing so many different things, at different times, that I would end the day wondering about what I had actually accomplished that day. How much time had I spent on different projects or areas of the business? The question gnawed at me, because I really wanted to know that I was spending my time on the right projects that moved us forward.

The last straw was that I found myself feeling behind in our migration projects. A few of them seemed to drag on, and I never felt like I had enough time to complete everything. I was concerned because migrations are my primary project and one that has significant impact on the company (read more about that here).

I had three primary questions I wanted to answer.

  1. How many hours were spent on migrations?
  2. How many hours were spent answering help tickets?
  3. How many hours did I spend on other parts of ConvertKit, mainly meetings and customer calls?

I think most people don’t like the idea of time-tracking because it feels too “micro-managing”, and/or they’re afraid of the results. What if I quickly realize I spend too much time on thing X when I’m supposed to be on thing Y, or if I’m not doing X or Y?

With the prodding of Matt Newbill, our Customer Success Director and experienced time-tracker, I started tracking my time on September 1st. Here’s what I thought my breakdown would be, by percentages.

  • Migrations = 60%
  • Support tickets = 25%
  • Meetings & calls = 10%
  • Other stuff = 5%

It became clear after the first several days that I was off. First, I was spending more time on support tickets than I estimated. I should have recognized this without time tracking, but I spend a half day each weekend only answering tickets. So right away, 20% of my time is taken up by tickets. Add in about an hour the other days of the week, and I had…

Total Weekly Time in Success Tickets = 30–35%

Another place I saw my time being used was in meetings and customer calls. The call volume can vary, but meetings are structured and timely at ConvertKit. Each week we meet for:

  • Monday all-team: 1 hour
  • Monday migration update: .5 hour
  • Daily department standup (check-in): 15 min x 4= 1 hour
  • Tuesday internal training: .5 hour
  • Thursday success meeting: 1 hour

(note: the 4 days for standup are because I usually work a little to none of Wednesday with my weekend support.)

4 hours a week for meetings is not bad for most companies. Since ConvertKit is a remote team, I look forward to them so we can get some face-to-face time with each other. But it adds to the weekly ledger.

Customer call time varies, but I also spent an average of 4 hours per week on this part of my job. Which means…

Total Weekly Time in Meeting or Calls = 20–25%

I was also spending a couple hours a week running the Getting Started Workshop, an hour long hangout where I taught people the best way to get started with ConvertKit and be successful. An hour of logistics, an hour of teaching…

Total Weekly Time on Growth = 5%

Now, for migrations. It’s easy to see now that I was spending less than half my time on my primary project. Which explains more why they had slowed down a bit. More migrations with only slight shifts in time from other areas could not make a big enough difference in what had to be done.

I was still moving forward and closing migrations, people chipped in and helped, but there were definitely some painful misses that I was responsible for. Because I also did a little sub-tracking inside migrations to see what my time was like there. How much time did I spend on actual migrations, follow-ups, organizing, and recording data?

Here’s the general breakdown:

  • Migration tasks (forms, sequences, subscriber imports) = 80%
  • Customer follow-ups, task organization, etc = 20%

I work about 45–50 hours a week, so let’s break that down further.

  • Actual migrations = 16 hours
  • Migration-associated tasks = 4 hours

That was the stunner. 16 hours a week on my primary task.

It was eye-opening to see what I was really spending my time on.

I was a little shaken by the numbers, but just for a little while. Seeing I spent less than half your time on my primary project was jarring, especially since I thought the numbers were way different.

But here’s the benefit of time-tracking. I also hard specific data on everything else I was spending my time on. As a team, we could look at the numbers and have a real discussion about where to re-allocate my time. If I spend less time helping answering tickets, who ends up answering them? Who would do the weekly workshop instead? Are there meetings I don’t need to attend anymore?

Instead of dealing with the problem hypothetically, we had real data.

If you’re confident you do good work and want a hard look at where your time is being spent, I highly recommend 30 days of time tracking.

Like me, you probably want to see if you’re making the right progress on the important things that move your company forward and make customers happier. Seeing where your days and weeks are being spent gives you a baseline to take back control of your time going forward.

Two quick tips: first, don’t try to track every little thing, or be a hard-ass about stopping the clock when you go to the bathroom or get more coffee. Second, start with common projects, like I did with migrations, success tickets, meetings/calls, and growth.

The results will help you do better work. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading this essay. If you have any other questions about time-tracking or how I set everything up, just ask in the comments! If you like this one, just follow along and you’ll see the next soon.