[FUEL] Liberating myself from tracking my time

By Dawn Shuler

Are you working by the minute or providing a deeper value

Back in 2002 when I started out as a virtual assistant, I got a program called TraxTime to… wait for it…. track my time. 🙂 I punched in and out for every project (client). In the mid 2000s, I added my own business as a project because I would get to the end of my work day, feel like I had worked all day, and only had 2-3 billable hours. So, my company became a client, and I would clock in and out no matter what – for me or whatever client I was working on.

Fast forward to now when I’m no longer managing anyone’s business or working per minute, and I still clock in and out. My projects (what TraxTime calls them) are Administrative, Coaching, The Shuler Group (anything that doesn’t fall into Administrative or Coaching), SGC Coaching (the coaching I do as an Associate Coach for She’s Got Clients), and Writing/Editing (for the very, very rare projects I take on in those areas).

For fourteen years, I’ve been punching in and out of various projects and taking copious notes on what I’ve been doing. I can run reports telling me how much I’ve worked for a particular project in a day, week, month, quarter, forever, as well as what I did during any particular time.

Well, yesterday, I screwed up. My antivirus program said it found a malicious file, and so I clicked to remove it.

It removed TraxTime.

I’ve tried to reinstall. I’ve done two system restores. No dice. TraxTime either can’t find necessary files and disintegrates, or it starts over from scratch (losing all my historical data from the last FOURTEEN YEARS) and can’t find my registration code. (This is a program that was last updated in 2004. Yes, in some cases, I am a dinosaur.)

I could call my ex-husband, my IT guy, but he already spent Tuesday night with me fixing other issues on my computer. I really don’t want to call him again. So, now I’m left with the choice: call Chris (don’t want to do) or give up TraxTime completely.

This is where my crisis is coming in. Every day, no matter what I’m doing, I punch in or out. For. The. Last. Fourteen. Years.

I found myself trying to mouse to TraxTime when I got a business phone call. And then trying to punch out when the call ended. And since there were about five business phone calls in a one-hour period, this experience was multiplied by five.

Going to write this newsletter, I automatically went to punch in for The Shuler Group. Nothing there.

Since I no longer work by the minute, do I need to track my time to the nth degree? Is there value in knowing how much I worked today, this week, this month, this year? Do I decide to work more based on how much I’ve already worked this day, this week? Do I decide to work less based on how much I’ve already worked this day, this week?

Is my value as a service provider based solely on the hours I work?

As a wrap-up, I came into the office to write this. Mark also came into our shared office to document some ideas for blog posts. As he turned to me and we chatted, I found myself automatically going, “I should punch out because this isn’t work time,” even though I wasn’t even punched in.

Is this just habit – being attached to the clock and numbers – or is it okay if I let this go?

Is our value based on the time we spend, or is it something more?

I would love to hear your thoughts down below!