5 reasons social entrepreneurs should track their time

Are you a social entrepreneur? Have you ever reached the end of your day only to wonder what on earth it was you achieved during those eight hours?

Sure, you were physically present at the business from 9am until 5pm, but it feels like that time was spent doing nothing more than sitting in meetings, answering emails and dashing from one issue to the next.

If you’ve ever felt like that, we’ve got some good news – you probably did achieve plenty, but the fact you were so busy limits your ability to accurately recall what you did.

Time is an invaluable resource for social enterprises, and if you sit at the helm, it’s important to know how you’re spending yours.

Thankfully, there’s a great way to do this, and it starts with tracking every hour you spend at work.

If you think that sounds laborious and unnecessary, here’s five reasons you might want to give it a shot:

1. You’ll learn where you’re wasting time

Chances are, you’re reading this blog post because you have a sneaking suspicion that you’re not using your time effectively as a social entrepreneur.

By tracking your work, you’ll be able to identify the tasks you undertake that demand far more of your time than is necessary. They’ll stick out like a sore thumb, too (do you really need to spend three hours each week processing BACS payments?).

2. You’ll spot when you’re most productive

One of the best things about time tracking is that it enables you to bring better structure to your day by identifying when you’re most productive.

Once you’ve tracked a week or so of your time, take a look back at the pattern of work. You might find that mornings are when you get the most done, or discover you’re more inclined to undertake tough jobs in the afternoon.

Knowing this stuff will help you structure your days to take advantage of the times when you’re clearly more capable of getting lots done.

3. You’ll learn to delegate

Remember those three hours per week you’ve discovered are spent making BACS payments to suppliers? Why are you doing that?

Calculate how much those three hours cost you in your time, and you’ll likely come to the conclusion that employing a freelance accountant on an ad-hoc basis to undertake the work is far more cost effective.

By tracking your time, you’ll discover the tasks that should be delegated in order to invest your own time in growing the business.

4. You’ll find out how profitable you are by the hour

If reason 3 was a bit of an eye-opener in terms of how much your own time costs the business, why don’t we take that a stage further?

You probably don’t bill by the hour as a social entrepreneur, but it’s important to know how much profit you’re making relative to the time you put into the enterprise.

You’re in this for the love of it and to make a genuine, positive impact on society, but the social enterprise still needs to survive, after all.

Break your revenue down by the day and then by the hour, and contrast it against the productive hours you’re spending on revenue-generating work. What’s the difference between the two? For instance, if your time costs the business £10 an hour, but you’re only generating £8 of business per hour, there’s clearly a problem somewhere.

5. You’ll give more thought to each working day

As we discussed at the start of this blog, it’s all too easy as an entrepreneur to throw yourself into each day without thinking exactly how you’ll divide your time.

With a time tracking mindset, you’ll instead become far more thoughtful about how you spend those hours.

Each day’s report will reveal so much about the way you work. You’ll find yourself becoming healthily addicted to the process of tracking time and conscious of when you’re wasting time.

Remember – this is for you, no one else, and if you stick with it, time tracking will make you a far more productive social entrepreneur.

How to track your time

We’ve hopefully tempted you to give time tracking a go, but you may be wondering how to do it. Thankfully, there’s some great apps available for your smartphone, computer and the web that make the process ultra easy.

We recommend trying Toggl, Timely or Hours. They all work across a number of platforms and devices, are either free or very low cost and very easy to use.

Have fun time tracking – you’re about to finally harness your time as a social entrepreneur!