EU time tracking ruling: what it means for employees and employers

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EU FlagThe Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) ruled last month that the member countries must establish detailed methods of tracking the hourly work of employees, so that they can be properly compensated for time worked.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit by the Federación de Servicios de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), a Spanish trade union, against the Spanish subsidiary of Deutsche Bank. The main issues in question related to calculating overtime hours – 54% of which goes unrecorded in Spain – and protecting obligatory rest.  “Member States must require employers to set up an objective, reliable and accessible system enabling the duration of time worked each day by each worker to be measured,” the court said in its ruling.

The ECJ ruling is explicitly intended to protect the worker against potential workplace abuses. It is an effort to enforce the European Working Time Directive, which restricts employers from making employees work more than 48 hours a week, and grants people at least 11 consecutive hours of rest every day.

What the ECJ ruling means

The ECJ ruling extends to all companies operating in the EU. The ruling does not specify any guidelines for how employers should record work hours for their employees. In most cases, companies will need a clock-in/clock-out system that would allow them to monitor when employees start and end work, and when people have breaks. Employers will need to know employees’ exact work hours.

At first sight, this may seem cumbersome and backward. But given the technology available today, this could actually be a good idea, for both employers and employees. The “punch clock” has evolved, and businesses and employees don’t have to sacrifice contemporary technical flexibility for exact timekeeping. Modern time and attendance tracking software, often on the cloud, work on mobile phones. Clocking in and out is a matter of a tap on your smartphone screen or on a web page. So even if you are checking emails at home or taking a call from your boss, tracking that time isn’t really an inconvenience. Many of the software systems are priced such that small businesses can afford them. And most provide great analytical tools.

For employees

From an employee standpoint, there’s definitely a lot to be excited about.

Mobile and web time tracking
Mobile and web time tracking

Accurate time tracking provides irrefutable, objective proof against unlawful overtime. Time tracking thus becomes a tool towards building fairer, more accountable workplaces that help protect employee safety and health.

Moving beyond just clocking in and out, good time tracking can detail the time that employees spend on different tasks, when they take breaks and how long they last. It can help document off-site and off-hours work, as well as work-related travel, all of which are frequently overlooked. Basically, it gives employees full visibility into their work schedules – allowing them to address unhealthy workloads and the associated stress, anxiety and exhaustion that come with it.

For employers

Analyze employee time
Time Tracking reports

Companies can use time tracking to track employee working hours. It makes payroll much more accurate. Billing customers for work done is now much clearer and transparent and all hours worked can now be billed. The time tracking data collected is a great source of information on project budgets, project status, progress of works, employee productivity and many other aspects that are crucial for business success. For managers, it may make sense to combine data on the quantity and task breakdown of hours worked by employees with productivity information. It may turn out, for example, that a company would be better off with more workers keeping shorter hours than with an overworked team that’s less effective because of stress and exhaustion.

Conclusion

Time tracking doesn’t have to be tedious and cumbersome. With the right approach, you can make it an integral part of your business. Most makers of time tracking software tell customers that it’s vital to make it’s use mandatory to get people into the habit of tracking time, and that the data must be checked regularly to weed out abuses and negligence. If EU companies take the ECJ’s ruling seriously and apply it properly, it could do a world of good to their employees and their economies.

 

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5 great reasons for tracking volunteer time

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Last week, I was talking to the Executive Director of a small nonprofit. She said they had only 4 full-time employees, but over an 18 day period just before Christmas, they have over 2,500 volunteers who make their annual program possible.

The value of a volunteer’s time donated to a nonprofit is enormous. But tracking those hours is a challenge for most nonprofits – how many hours volunteers contributed and the impact of those hours (what was accomplished? what difference was made?). With volunteer time outweighing that of paid employees for most nonprofits, volunteer hours are exceptionally valuable.

So let’s take a quick look at 5 great reasons why tracking your volunteers’ time and including it in your budget and financials makes sense.

1. Money, money, money.

Funding for nonprofits
Funding for nonprofits

One of the biggest issues for most nonprofits is funding. It’s key to keeping your nonprofit afloat. Tracking volunteer hours can help your organization prove more qualified for a grant.

When reporting your organization’s impact to a grant provider, including volunteer hours, makes a huge difference. Independent Sector recently released the value of volunteer time of $ 25.43 per hour. If your nonprofit records just 8 hours of volunteer time per day, that works out to over $ 52,800 a year, calculated for just for 5 days a week.

The power of your nonprofit stems from the fact that so many individuals come together to work for your mission – something that is bigger than any single individual. When tracking and sharing your volunteers’ time and impact, grantors clearly see that you have a team of people that believe in your mission and that you are making a positive contribution to your community.

2. Keep ’em coming.

Retain volunteers
Retain volunteers

Volunteers appreciate recognition. Remember that we always count what we value. So tracking volunteer time, clearly shows your volunteers that you value the time that they are putting into your nonprofit. Sometimes, volunteers don’t see the connection between their donated time and your mission. This is the primary reason why volunteers don’t build long-term relationships with nonprofits. By crediting the volunteers’ time and recognizing them when they hit certain milestones, you automatically build a system of transparency and trust. And this can be key for volunteer retention.

3. Build an A-1 reputation.

Build a great reputation
Build a great reputation

Use your volunteer hours to attract new volunteers and donors. Use your tracked hours to build a great volunteer narrative. Let’s say, 300 volunteers put in, on an average 10 hours each over the year. That gives you a total value of 300*10*25.43 or $ 76,290 of volunteer work. Use that number not just to thank your volunteers, but put that in front of your donors and your grantors. When they see the impact of your volunteers’ time, they are more likely to want to be a part of your nonprofit. And the fact that you actually have concrete data, makes your organization seem more legitimate to prospective donors and grantors.

4. Get your ducks in a row.

Analyze your data
Analyze your data

Once you start tracking your volunteer time and where it is being spent, you can start improving your volunteer programs and ultimately strengthen your organization. Make sure that you ask your volunteers to track what they are working on, in addition to tracking the actual time spent. Once you collect this data, you can put it to good use to adjust your programs.

Let’s say, you notice that the total number of volunteer hours has increased, but you are actually getting fewer school backpacks packed. You look at your volunteer data in detail, and you see that 60% of your volunteer time is going towards marketing and administrative tasks and only 40% towards packing the backpacks.

Now if your short-term goal is to grow your nonprofit through marketing efforts, then this may be fine. On the other hand, if you want to get more backpacks out to school kids, then you can easily adjust your volunteer programs to need more volunteers on the backpack packing job. There’s countless ways you can improve and strengthen your programs once you have the volunteer data to back it up.

Tracking volunteer time will help you align your organization goals and your volunteers’ efforts.

5. No taxes, yeaaaah!

As a nonprofit, you don’t have to pay taxes. That’s great, but you still can’t escape

Nonprofit taxes
Nonprofit taxes

the paper-work. Use the Form 990 to your advantage. Since this form must be made public and the data is available on sites like Guidestar, donors and grantors use it to evaluate organization (s) that they want to engage with. Displaying accurate volunteer hours, is not just the right thing to do, it can also help with your funding efforts.

Never assume that your volunteer hours won’t look impressive, the fact that people in your community believe in you, to put in their own time is a huge testament to your nonprofit. Being transparent with your volunteer time gives your a great image with the public, with funders and with the government.

With Salesforce’s Nonprofit Success Pack and Volunteers for Salesforce, managing donors and volunteers is now easy. And with V4S Mobile, you can now track volunteer hours very easily on mobile devices. Reach out to us at info@dftly.com, for more information on volunteer tracking. We’ll be happy to help.

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7 tips to beat the Monday morning blues!

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As you head out for your weekend, are you already dreading Monday? Does the

Beat the Monday blues
Beat the Monday blues

idea of starting the work week trigger panic and anxiety attacks? Do you feel sluggish and lack motivation?

If you’re nodding “yes” to any of these questions, you might have a case of the Monday blues.  Your Monday blues can hamper not just your own productivity and performance, but that of your co-workers as well. But there are ways to get around it. So don’t lose heart.

But first, if you find yourself facing the Monday blues most weeks, then that’s a sign that you are unhappy at work. You need to identify the issues that are making you unhappy and fix them. Or move on and find another job.

But if it’s occasional bouts of Monday anxiety, then here are some tips that can successfully cheer yourself and others up and make an otherwise dreary Monday, brighter and happier.

  1. Prepare on Friday. Try to make sure that you complete as many potential “dreadful” tasks on Friday. The idea of tackling these “dreadful” tasks on Monday is a daunting one. Take care of the things that you least want to handle. If you do have unpleasant tasks on Monday, finish them off early, when you are fresher. You don’t want them hanging over your head all day. At the end of the day on Friday, make sure that your calendar is synced and you know exactly what needs to be done the following week. Make sure you clean your desk of clutter before you leave on Friday.
  2. Unplug and have fun. As far as possible, try to avoid checking work emails and voicemail over the weekend. If you’re not going to get to it until Monday anyway, why mess up your weekend? Drawing clearly defined boundaries between work and personal time can help you manage things better. make sure that your weekend has enough outside and indoor time. Go out on Friday evening say and hang out at home with family or friends on Saturday. We have a family movie night on Saturdays. Netflix or Amazon Prime anyone? Or catch a game on the TV.
  3. Be well dressed
    Be well dressed

    Plan ahead on Sunday night and get plenty of sleep. Lay out your favorite outfit. This can help build confidence and get you compliments. Make sure your Monday lunch is packed or prepped. Try to get get between seven and nine hours of sleep.  Make sure that you set your alarm again. And set it 10 – 15 minutes earlier than other days. Give yourself a few minutes of “me time”, rather than feeling trapped in a time crunch.

  4. Get some exercise. Hit the gym early or
    Get your endorphins up
    Get your endorphins up

    walk or run. Whatever is your exercise picker-upper. Exercise ramps up your endorphins, so try getting some early morning exercise in for a great start to the work-week. In a time crunch? Try this great 10 minute workout. Will get you off to great week.

  5. Be positive.  Start the work week recognizing and appreciating the things that you enjoy abut work. Pump yourself up on your commute with your favorite songs. Some high-energy, upbeat music is just the thing to get you going. When you get in to work, don’t be a complainer. And don’t listen to other people’s Monday morning complaints. Not only will you be more positive, you’ll make the start of work week more positive for people around you.
  6. Make someone else happy. Promise yourself that you’ll do something nice for someone on Monday morning. So pay a compliment to a co-worker, bring some donuts in to work, say something positive and smile at your barista or help out a stranger on the street. Doing nice things for others is one of the greatest mood lifters.
  7. Keep your Monday schedule light and take small breaks. Knowing that Mondays are going to be busy, keep your schedule as light as possible. Try to schedule long, involved meetings for Tuesday or Wednesday. Finish off some easy tasks early on Monday, so you start off with a feeling of accomplishment.  And don’t stay glued to your desk or cubicle. Take a walk and get some fresh air. Don’t eat your lunch at your desk. If you have the time, hit the gym for a quick workout.

The key to beating the Monday blues and starting the work week on a great note is organizing your work for maximum leisure over the weekend. You really need that time to relax and de-stress. Try out these 7 habits and prepare yourself for a great work-week. If you have other tips and tricks that you use, share them with us in the comments.

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5 reasons to go green with mobile time tracking

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Eliminating paper time sheets, physical time reports to your payroll agency / department, physical paychecks and paper pay stubs are huge steps towards a green organization. In fact, most studies reveal that employees prefer receiving their checks and payroll stubs electronically.

Done right, implementing an end-to-end green path from time tracking to payroll deposits is a win-win for everyone. Let’s start with just the time tracking side of the process.

The endless paper trail

The endless paper trail
The endless paper trail

Have you looked closely around your office lately? How much of that paper lying around is for paper time sheets and paper Paid Time Off (PTO) requests? Chances are that it’s quite a lot. And have you ever looked through some of those time cards and thought that it looked worse than your doctor’s squiggles? And have you had your payroll supervisor complain on payroll day that they don’t have all the paper time sheets back from employees? You could suggest using hours from memory, but you could end up over or under paying employees, which isn’t good for anyone. So what do you do?

Sustainable time tracking

If you are stuck in that frustrating cycle, then making the move to a mobile / web based time tracking system can eliminate many of those frustrations. Think about how much you spend on buying paper every year. And how much more on filing, finding and searching for relevant documents. This is where a huge amount of time, energy and paper (and therefore money) is wasted, while increasing the amount of garbage that your company generates.

Mobile and web time tracking
Mobile and web time tracking

A simple mobile time tracking system helps reduce the headaches and wasted effort involved with paper time sheets. Here are some terrific benefits that you get with a mobile / web time tracking system:

  • Save employees and businesses time and effort with 100% accurate online time sheets
  • Decrease payroll errors with always available timesheet data
  • Eliminate time and effort in the PTO request and approval process
  • Reduce cost of paper supplies and waste generated
  • Eliminate rounding errors, buddy punching and illegible time cards.

Increase payroll and invoicing efficiency

Most certainly, you have a payroll budget. So how can you reduce the errors that

Analyze employee time
Time Tracking reports

inevitably creep in? How can you make the process as smooth as possible. Accurate time and PTO tracking is a major factor in eliminating payroll errors. You want to make sure that your employees are paid accurately for the time that they’ve worked, But you also want to make sure that you are not paying for time that was not worked. A mobile time tracking system ensures that all employee time is tracked accurately at the time that it was done and that all time tracking data is automatically synchronized in the cloud. So your payroll team and managers have access to the data immediately, right within your office, regardless of where your employees may be working.

With all data in a single centralized repository, you can easily export simple time tracking reports to your payroll system, ensuring that there is no dropped data or errors in data entry. And you can make sure that every minute is accounted for and billed, because you have all the time tracking data for your employees in the same repository.

And all this with no paper anywhere. From your employees mobile phone / webpage to your central repository to your invoicing and payroll systems. All electronically! And because it’s all in the cloud, you are not increasing the carbon footprint within your premises.

Going green makes perfect sense!

Image by iblushay from Pixabay
Go green now!

Sometimes making sustainable changes in your company is difficult. But signing up for a mobile and web time tracking solution on the cloud is easy and effective. The Mobile Time tracker is designed to make life easier for small and medium businesses while accurately tracking employee hours, wherever they may be working. And helping the environment at the same time.

Save time, save money and save the earth! Now that’s an easy decision, isn’t it?

 

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Did time tracking begin with Fred Flintstone?

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If you are one of the millions of people across the world who need to track their time on timesheets, you know how tedious and monotonous it can be. Tracking every minute of your work day is not fun. So I’m sure this video of Fred Flintstone joyfully punching out with the red dinosaur will put a smile on your face.

Never fails to cheer me up 🙂

But timesheets are an essential part of business. Virtually every industry measures the cost of labor, in hours and minutes. And it’s timesheets that make this possible.

Code of Hammurabi
Code of Hammurabi at the Louvre

The Ancient Roots of Time Tracking

Tracing back the history of time tracking takes us to ancient Babylon and the Code of Hammurabi. Yep, him of the “eye for an eye” fame! This ancient treatise written in 1754 BC, set a typical worker’s daily wage at 6 grains of silver. Without adjusting for 3,772 years of inflation, that works out to about $ 0.25 per day.  It also mandated specific pay for specific types of work. While wages were set by the day at that time, it laid the foundation for the time-based labor practices that we follow to this day.

The Timesheet

Ben Franklin - an early time keeper
Ben Franklin – an early time keeper

So let’s fast forward to a more modern time – the 18th century. We begin to see more emphasis on effective time management as the workforce began to shift from being mostly independent work to an employer-employee business model. One of the key champions of time tracking was Benjamin Franklin. He kept the most meticulous and detailed time tracking records that could ever be. In fact, looking at what he could accomplish in one day, would make most of us feel worthless. He’s even credited with coining the term “time is money” to drive home his point.

Following Ben Franklin’s views about time and money, employers wanted to make sure that they only paid for time worked. While employees wanted to make sure that they were actually being paid for that time. Obviously there was a need for accurate and efficient time tracking methods. Pen-and-paper based time tracking records were the solution at the time. Though the system was error-prone, time consuming and relied heavily on employees maintaining truthful and accurate records, the practice continued for years and is still used in some businesses.

The Time Clock

The Bundy Clock
The Bundy Clock

Move on to the 19th century, and finally the world caught up with Fred Flintstone’s punch clock method of recording time.

As timekeeping technology developed, the daily wage was replaced by the hourly wage. In November 1888,  an Auburn, NY jeweler named Willard Bundy started producing a time tracking product by the name of The Workman’s Time Recorder. His brother Harlow started mass producing the clock and in 1890, they filed for a patent for the clock.

Several other inventors during that time period developed mechanical time recording devices to help businesses keep track of their employees’ hours. Over the next century, entire companies dedicated to time tracking solutions emerged, improving on the Bundy design. To this day, many manufacturing plants and business office employees use a time card and a black box system similar to Bundy’s Clock to record their attendance and payroll. But not all professions paid so much attention to the clock. Engineers, lawyers and architects still charged by the job and not by the hour.

The Billable Hour

A paper timesheet
A paper timesheet

During the 1950s, the efficiency experts who had squeezed extra production out of factories brought their skills to bear on the service professions. They created a new measure: the billable hour. Thus laying the foundation for your <insert profession here> charging you hundreds of dollars while you discuss last night’s game with him 🙂 Billable and non-billable hours became a significant part of project estimating and forecasts. Workers tracked their time on paper timesheets, creating a huge repository of information about how long different tasks would take.

Time Tracking in the Digital Age

As computers became more ubiquitous in the workplace, many companies started replacing the cumbersome paper time sheets with digital ones. Programs like Excel and eventually time tracking software revolutionized the way that businesses tracked their employees’s hours and time-off.

Rather than punching in and out, employees now swipe a card, enter an identification number or perhaps just click a button. All the data is then stored digitally for easy access at any point. Better yet, it’s now remarkably easy to discern patterns in and trends in the time sheet data through automatically generated reports and dashboards.

Mobile Time Tracking

Mobile Time Tracker Clock out
Mobile Time Tracker Clock out

Increasingly, supervisors and employees in the field are using mobile devices such as phones and tablets to capture the time spent on different projects and tasks. Automating these tasks, frees up employees to focus more on their work and less on writing down their time.  In addition to time, employees can also track notes, photos, expenses and other details all on their mobile devices. With mobile devices, employers can also choose to track GPS locations as well. And with all time now efficiently and easily tracked, businesses are pleasantly surprised by the addition to their bottom line when they move from paper time sheets to mobile time tracking.

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5 reasons why being on time is important

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Being on time

Do you think being on time is important? And if so, how important is it? Being a company that focuses on time tracking, our response is obviously biased 🙂 But ask just about anyone (regardless of whether s/he is on time) and chances are that the answer would be “Of course, it’s important”.

Importance of being punctual
Importance of being punctual

Being on time, matters. It communicates whether others can trust you and rely on you. It tells others how you view yourself and them and how important your relationship with them is to you. So professionally, can you afford not to be on time? Being consistently on-time or even early is a great way to make yourself stand out from the crowd and create a fantastic first impression.

Barring true emergencies, there’s really little excuse for not being on time. Being on time is completely within your control. You know most of the factors that control being on time. Taking ownership of them and making sure that you’re punctual shows that you value the other person’s time and relationship. King Louis XVIII of France said “Punctuality is the politeness of kings”. Let’s look at why being on time is important.

  1. Being late weakens your position: When you’re late, you start off on the wrong foot. You don’t want to start an important meeting with an apology. Not only will you be stressed and scattered, you may make the other person question their choice of working with you. If you can’t be trusted to be on time, what are the chances that you can be trusted with a customer’s money?
  2. When you’re not on time, you’re stealing: If time is money, then by being late, you’ve actually taken something of value from the other person. And that is definitely NOT a great way to start business negotiations or relationships. The other person feels that they’ve already given you something, so they’re not likely to make any other concessions.
  3. Being late sends a lot of bad vibes: Being late tells others a lot about you, your integrity and dependability, and your respect for others. It tells them that you value your own time more than theirs, and that you think that whatever you were doing was more important than what they could be doing with their time. It shows disrespect and disregard and tells the other person that you are disorganized. None of which are great starts to a relationship.
  4. There’s no good excuse: Other than a real emergency – and sleeping late or traffic don’t make the cut – being on time is 100% within your control. And it’s not difficult. It takes some planning and organization, but compared to most other challenges at work, being on time is simple.
  5. Being late wastes time and money: When you’re late, you’re not getting yourself a few “extra” minutes. You’re throwing away those minutes on things that could have been done correctly with just a little bit of planning. Being late means that you create a lot of extra work for yourself in rescheduling meetings, or follow-up meetings because you couldn’t complete your full agenda, Or you could slow down another project because of the time that you lost on this one. And that’s all in terms of time. Now think about the effect on money. Have you ever missed a flight because you were late? Does your kid’s daycare charge you by the minute when you pick up your kid late? Have you paid extra for parking because your meeting ran over? Being late can lead to costly mistakes.

So we encourage you to take pride in being a person who is always on time and prepared for your appointments. After all, there’s no downside in being early, but there’s a significant downside to showing up late.

So what are your tips for being on time? Do you think being on time is important? Please share your tips and thoughts with us.

 

 

 

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5 workplace time wasters (and how to eliminate them)

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Time wasters at workIf you think of your workplace as an obstacle course filled with distractions, you’re not alone. Between long meetings, emails, social platform notifications, alerts from your mobile phone and loud colleagues, most of us are inundated with potential time wasters. But the killer is not just the distraction, it’s how much time it takes to get your focus back on the task at hand. According to a UC Irvine study, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to where you left off, after an interruption. Honestly, it’s a wonder work gets done at all!

But maximizing your productivity at work can mean the difference between leaving at a reasonable time or being endlessly chained to your desk. Work-life balance is important to maintain your sanity and actually have a life outside work. So let’s identify some of the biggest time wasters in the workplace and see how we can address them.

Time Waster # 1: Email

We’ve all become addicted to email. It’s a great way of asynchronous

Too much email
Too much email

communication. Chances are checking email is the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you go to bed. But emails can also lead to lots of unnecessary back-and-forth communication that wastes time. And with trigger-happy Reply All co-workers, your Inbox is probably full all the time!

Solution:

  • If it’s something that needs to be discussed, talk face to face with the person and get the issue resolved.
  • If you can’t do face to face, then call them on the phone and get the issue sorted out.
  • Follow the call with a quick email detailing what you discussed.
  • If you are not the person to whom the email is addressed, set it aside for later.
  • Check emails at specific times during the day. Respond to urgent ones quickly. Set aside others and Reply All emails to be dealt with at a later time.

Hack: If you are not the person to whom the email is addressed (you have only been CC:d), then don’t feel obliged to respond. Use the same logic when you send out emails too.

Time Waster #2: Meetings

Meandering Meetings
Meandering Meetings

Meetings can be a huge time-sink. And if they are poorly planned and executed, then they are doubly so.  Doodle (an online scheduling service) just released results of it’s study of 19 million meetings in the US, UK and Germany. The cost of poorly organized meetings just in the US in 2019 is estimated at $ 399 billion.

Solution:

  • Make sure that every meeting host has a set agenda to be discussed and that it’s distributed to attendees before the meeting starts.
  • Talk to the meeting host and ask why you should attend. If you feel that someone else from your team would be able to contribute more to the task at hand, then get them to go and give you an update.
  • If you are hosting the meeting, make sure that everything is set up and visual aids are up and running before people walk into the meeting.

Hack: Set up all your meetings to be stand-ups. Schedule them for 20-30 minutes. Very little chance that they’ll go over. 🙂

Time Waster # 3: Smartphones and Social distractions

Smartphones enable us to be more connected and tuned in. But it also comes

Social distractions on your phone
Social distractions on your phone

with a built in productivity sink. US adults spent an average of 3 hours 35 minutes per day on mobile devices in 2018. Recent research shows that 58% of staff spend at least 4 hours per week on non-work websites. That’s a lot of your work time that’s going into unproductive stuff.

Solution: 

  • Turn off all Notifications on your phone during work hours. Believe me, you’ll get a lot more done.
  • If you can’t resist checking your social media accounts every 5 minutes, block them.
  • Give yourself a proper lunch-break. Use that time to check all your social media accounts and non-work websites, without feeling guilty about it.

Hack: Put your phone face down when you’re working. Stops all calls and notifications. Most smartphones let you set up some numbers (family) that will still ring, when your phone is face down. But all other distractions will stop.

Time Waster #4: Chatty coworkers and a noisy office

It’s hard not to talk to colleagues. After all you spend 40 hours (perhaps more)

Chatty coworkers
Chatty coworkers

with them every week. But chatting with colleagues is one of the biggest time wasters. And with open plan offices, even if you aren’t chatting, the noise of others chatting, laughter, phone ring-tones can all contribute to stop you from staying focused.

Solution:

  • See if you can move or work in an empty conference area / room when you need to do focused work.
  • Limit banter to lunch time or break time.
  • If possible, see if you can work remotely when you have important things to complete.

Hack: Wear headphones while you work. Signals to your coworkers that you are busy and they’ll only disturb you if it’s work-related and important. Also, several studies state that listening to calming sounds like flowing water or rain can help you focus.

Time Waster #5: Failed multi-tasking

You probably think that multi-tasking makes you more productive. But the reality

Failed multi-tasking
Failed multi-tasking

is very different. Studies have consistently proved that the majority of people have lower performance when trying to do multiple tasks. So if you find yourself juggling 3 or more tasks at a time, it’s time to reevaluate your work habits.

Solution:

  • Spend some time creating a daily task list that promotes single-tasking.
  • Prioritize and then break up your day accordingly.  If possible, assign a set time to do each task, based on importance.
  • Complete one task before moving on to the next.

Hack: Put specific tasks at specific times on your calendar (phone/desktop/paper). Make sure that you do the tasks at those times.

While each one of these time wasters probably doesn’t seem that serious, collectively they can be a huge drain on your productivity and work time. They can prevent you from focusing on real work, causing you to stay late or taking unfinished work home to your family. I hope this list helps you identify your personal time wasters. And gives you some pointers on how you can get more quality time with your family and on things that you really enjoy. Good luck! And do share your tricks to eliminate time wasters.

 

 

 

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10 Inspirational Quotes About Time

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Each of us has things that we are passionate about. For us, that “thing” is Time. That’s the reason why our software products are all about helping people track time. Whether in the for-profit or in the non-profit world, our goal has always been to help track their work and volunteer time easily and effectively.

And that’s why we decided to put together this list of the 10 most inspirational quotes about time.  Here’s our list. If you have found (or made up) interesting quotes about time, please do share them with us. We’d love to hear about them.

Let’s start with this classic one about “Today”.

Quote from Bill Keane

How appropriate is this quote from Steve Jobs about the limited amount of time we have.

Steve Jobs quote

For someone who spent so much time imprisoned for his political activities, Nelson Mandela’s capacity for doing good is unmatched.

Nelson Mandela quote

The great writer – Leo Tolstoy – evokes a powerful image.

Leo Tolstoy quote

And how could Sigmund Freud have predicted the Internet’s obsessive hangup with cat videos?

Sigmund Freud quote

Only a poet could have painted such an evocative picture of the value of time.

Rabindranath Tagore quote

The Philosophy of Andy Warhol has some profound quotes including this one about time.

Andy Warhol quote

Here’s a humorous one. This one’s often mis-attributed to Groucho Marx.

Andrew Oettinger quote

And from William Penn, this one about what most of us do with time.

William Penn quote

And we wind-up with this succinct and completely relatable quote from Ben Franklin.

Ben Franklin quote

Here’s a bonus one. I couldn’t let you go without one from my hero – Albert Einstein.

Albert Einstein quote

I hope these quotes will inspire you to spend your time wisely and perhaps have more fun, too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is time really moving faster? The story of time measurement

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Talk to almost anybody and you’ll hear about how rushed their lives are and how they never seem to have time for anything. Talk to older people and they’ll tell you about how their growing up years were slower and gentler. So has time measurement changed? Are we measuring it differently now?

Think about life in an agricultural society. Nature set the pace there. Farmers woke up when the rooster crowed, ate their mid-day meal when the sun was right overhead, brought their animals home to the barn at dusk and went to bed, when night fell. A simpler time? Perhaps.

That worked when people lived and worked individually. Even when craftsmen and handloom workers worked individually or with a few apprentices, they had the luxury of doing things at their own pace, perhaps even taking a day off because they felt like it. But as work became more inter-connected and inter-dependent, that lifestyle began to change. And pretty dramatically at that.

The Industrial Revolution
Our modern value of time stems from the Industrial Revolution. It brought about a huge change in the perception of time. Time became more defined and standardized.

Factory Time

With the Industrial Revolution came factories. With factories came

The 8 hour work day
The 8 hour work day

machines. Machines were expensive to start and run. So the factory owners needed people to start and end work at specific times to maximize the use of their machines. And with that came the concept of factory clocks and loud sirens that aurally signaled to workers when they had to come in to work. Sirens or whistles would signal lunch times and break times. These break times were the only times that the machines would stop and fall silent. And gradually, all factory workers times and schedules got inextricably linked to the machine on-off times. Factory workers became slaves to time as demands for efficiency became greater.

As the Industrial Revolution progressed, banks and other commercial activities began to grow to provide services for the fast growing and expanding factories. While workers at these commercial activities were not ruled by whistles or sirens, they too had specific, defined work hours. Easier perhaps than those of the factory worker, leading up to the term “banker’s hours”.

Transportation time.

With roads and turnpikes and tracks for steam engines criss-crossing the country, the Industrial Revolution completely upended travel in England. And from a time perspective brought about big changes. Towns generally went by solar times and kept it’s own local time. Even in a country as small as England, these times could

Owen Blacker
1913 time zone map of the US

vary by over 30 minutes if the town were on opposite ends of England. Now transplant that same system to the United States and see how much more complicated things become in this vast country. The greater speed of locomotives made inconsistent times even more difficult to control. Scheduling trains and stage coaches was a nightmare. So uniform time became a big issue. As a result in England, a uniform railway time was adopted, based on the Greenwich Mean Time, leading to the division of the world into time zones.

Military time

The mania for timekeeping and efficiency spurred by the Industrial Revolution made pocket and wrist watches very popular. And with the growth of wrist watches, life became simpler for the military. It was easier to coordinate attacks across larger geographical stretches with officers having synchronized wrist watches. For the most part, officers were expected to purchase their own wrist watches, preferably with a luminous (radium coated) dial and an unbreakable crystal. By the end of the First World War, all officers and soldiers in the British Army had been issued wrist watches. The wrist watch made it simpler for soldiers to check the time, without having to take their hands off the gun to take out a pocket watch. After the war, men continued to wear their wrist watches, propelling them into the mainstream.

The number of minutes in an hour or the number of seconds in a minute has not changed over time. But the ruthless efficiency demanded by the Industrial Revolution, has regulated our lives and made more synchronized withe clock, rather than with the natural rhythms of nature.

 

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For whom the clock chimes… with apologies to Hemingway

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Every Sunday evening, I wind up an antique wall clock at home. Last evening, I

Pendulum wall clock
Pendulum wall clock

inserted the clock key into two winding points to wind the clock for the week, and painstakingly moved the minute hand around to set the correct time.  Then I made sure that the clock was correctly positioned. If not, the clock either runs too fast or too slow. As I did all these mundane tasks, I began to think of how quaint the whole process seemed in today’s fast-moving world, where things seem to change in a fraction of a second. And I began to think of how the process of time tracking began and changed over time.

So how did human beings first start tracking or measuring time? Ever since humans noticed the regular movement of the Sun, the moon and the stars, they observed the passage of time. Pre-historic people first recorded the phases of the moon 30,000 years ago, but the first minutes were accurately recorded a mere 400 years ago. Atomic clocks that allowed humankind to track the approach of the third millennium (the year 2001) by a billionth of a second are less than 50 years old.

Measuring time in ancient times

The earliest time measuring devices were made to divide the day or the night into different periods in order to regulate work or ritual, so the lengths of time periods varied greatly from place to place and from culture to culture.

An Egyptian obelisk
An Egyptian obelisk

Our sexagesimal  timekeeping was first started in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt nearly 4,000 years ago, Around 3500 BC, the Egyptians used tall obelisks to track the shadows cast by the sun, which helped them separate their days into two halves. They kept improving their time keeping with the development of the sundials around 1500 BC. The ancient Greek, Roman and Chinese civilizations all used sundials extensively.

Oil lamps and candle clocks were used for telling time in China. They were used to mark the passage of time from one event to another, rather than to tell the exact time of day.

And then we have the very interesting Water clock. The Water clock or Clepsydra was

Water Clock or Clepsydra
Water Clock or Clepsydra

invented around 1600 BC. It relied on the flow of water from or into a container. A simple water clock measures time by measuring the regulated flow of water into or out of a vessel of some sort.  Water clocks existed in Egypt and Babylonia as early as 1600 BC and possibly significantly earlier in India and China. While the clepsydra was more reliable than oil lamps and candle clocks, the water flow still depended on the variation of pressure from the head of water in the container. The ancient Greeks and Romans used complex gears and escapement mechanisms to increase the accuracy of these water clocks.

Samrat Yantra, Jaipur India
The world’s largest sundial in Jaipur, India

Sundials or shadow clocks which measure the time of day by means of the shadow cast by the Sun onto a cylindrical stone, was widely used in ancient times. In a typical sundial, the Sun casts the shadow of a gnomon (a thin vertical rod or shaft) onto a horizontal surface marked with lines indicating the hours of the day. It can give a reasonably accurate reading of the local solar time. As the Sun moves across the sky, the edge of the shadow aligns with different hour markings. Sundials can therefore only be used during the daylight hours.

Mechanical clocks

Mechanical clock in Prague
Mechanical clock in Prague

And as we moved to the middle ages, mechanical clocks started being used. Mechanical clocks with continually repeated mechanical (“clockwork”) motion, began to be developed independently in China, the Middle East and Europe in the early Middle Ages.  They used a method of gradually and smoothly translating rotational energy into an oscillating motion that can be used to count time. They used a variety of toothed wheels, ratchets, gears and levers. Early mechanical clocks were housed in church towers or important government buildings. Early clocks did not have faces and just struck the hour for religious or administrative purposes. By the late 14th century, the convention of a rotating hour hand on a fixed dial became common. These clocks were still not very accurate and errors of 15 minutes to an hour per day were common.

Spring Clock
Spring Clock

Spring driven clocks began to appear in Europe in the 15th century and new innovations were developed in order to keep the clock movement running at a constant rate as the spring ran down. As accuracy increased (correct to within a minute a day), clocks began to appear with minute hands, mainly in Germany and France in the 16th century. By the time of the scientific revolution, clocks had become miniaturized enough for wealthy families in Europe to have a personal clock, or perhaps even a pocket watch.

In 1656, the Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens developed the pendulum clock, based on the earlier ideas of Galileo, who had discovered the isochronism, or constant period, of a pendulum’s motion in 1583. The pendulum clock used a swinging bob to regulate the clock motion and achieved an accuracy of within 10 seconds per day. with this level of accuracy, the seconds hand now became possible on clocks.

Mass production of clocks began in the United States in the late 18th century. In 1836, the Pitkin Brothers produced the first American-designed watch, and the first containing machine-made parts. New innovations and economies of scale with mass production, made the United States the leading clock-making country in the world. Competition reduced the price of a clock to $ 1 or less, making clocks affordable to a large number of families.

Modern clocks

An Electric clock, which winds the mainspring using an electric motor, was patented by Scottish clockmaker Alexander Bain in 1840. By the end of the 19th century, the invention of the dry cell battery made electric clocks a popular and mechanical clocks were now largely powered by batteries, removing the need for daily winding.

1915 wristwatch. Electa 250
1915 wristwatch. Electa 250

Meanwhile, the military hastened the development of the wristwatch. Most forms of communication were vulnerable to enemy interception. So the British military issued wristwatches to it’s officers in the late 19th century, so that they could coordinate activities and movements without having to communicate directly during battle. By the end of World War I, all British troops had been issued wristwatches specially designed to withstand the rigors of trench warfare. These troops returned to civilian life still wearing them, and they quickly became an indispensable time management tool for managers and workers. Wristwatches remained an indispensable part of daily life until the early part of the 20th century.

Apple Smartwatch
Apple Smartwatch

With the advent of cell phones in the late 20th century, many people replaced the wrist watch with their phones to tell time, as an alarm and as a timer. But in a remarkable switch around (and a validation of how quickly technology changes) wearable smartwatches are developing so quickly that they could replace smartphones. Smartwatches today, offer cellular connectivity and can function on their own. With a separate data plan, smartwatches can handle basic tasks – texting, emailing, workout tracking – without a phone in Bluetooth range. You can even make phone calls.

But with all the advances in technology, for me, the reassuring tick of my clock and the chimes as it strikes the hour and the half-hour signify a kinder, gentler time, when things moved an unhurried pace than ours. And I think of that immortal quote from the classic Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” – “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings”….

 

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