time tracking tips, tools & best practices

Time tracking for city planners – tools, best practices, and ideas

3 Major reasons to track time as a city planner

1) Easier to get accurate data for accounting and billing

If you are charging an hourly rate, keeping track of your hours is absolutely obvious. Accurate time tracking data will help you determine what your billable hours should be. That’s not to mention that your accounting needs to be accurate and transparent.

If you are charging a flat rate – then you need to track time for your own internal accounting. It’s always a good idea to know how much you earn per hour, and how much actual money work you are doing compared to “supporting” work.

If you are interested in setting up the best hourly rate as a city planner, check out this article on how to determine hourly rates for architects.

2) Better productivity and performance

You know one of the laws of nature is – “what gets tracked, improves”. Once you know how much time you spend on activities that don’t take your projects (or your bank account) further, you waste less and less time. Almost all city planners notice that discipline comes with time tracking.

3) Your own planning and business growth

As all professionals out there, you love doing some things and hate doing other things. A time tracking report will help you understand what needs to be delegated ASAP. Your time better be spent on things that you do best – and these decisions need to be data-driven.

Free timekeeping software products for city planners

With time tracking apps, you get what you paid for. Free apps are great for those starting out, but eventually you need more features.

Nevertheless, here’s a list of the free apps you can use to track time:

Clockify

A decent simple tool that is available both on desktop and as a mobile app. Clockify lets you do all the basic time tracking stuff, tracks apps and websites, and synchronizes with your calendar.

Toggl

Toggle used to be quite popular before their competitors got serious – but if you can deal with the weird colors of the recent app redesign, Toggl is a decent option. This is a cross-platform app that lets you create several projects and track time between them. You can also add clients and assign projects to them.

Harvest

This app is free if you are using it alone and for only two projects. It features all the basic stuff and a nice reminders feature that ensures you are consistent with your time tracking.

Professional time tracking tools for city planners

If you want to grow as a professional and take advantage of all the benefits of time tracking, you need to get serious about the software you are using. There are platforms built specifically for architects and city planners.

Spending several hundreds on an advanced timekeeping tool will very likely save you tens of thousands per year.

PlanMan

Our platform is built by town planners and for town planners, and we know what interests need to be addressed. We have a built-in time-tracking module that is tied to invoicing and accounting software. Moreover, there is a client dashboard where your clients can check the progress of their projects and re-download their data and documents.

We have a 30-day free trial, so sign up and check all the features we offer.

With PlanMan you can create timesheets for all uses, from client billing to internal evaluations.

Top time tracking mistakes city planners often make

The most common time tracking mistake city planners make is not unique to city planning: it’s failing to start and stop the time. Also, failure to switch to another project or activity being tracked. 

To combat that you just need to use handier apps. A good timekeeping app will sync tracking and project between desktop and mobile versions and will always be with you on the go.

Thing is, if you are serious about getting all the benefits of time tracking, you need to be extremely thorough about it. 

Track everything you do, and make sure to track every activity you do separately. Anything you are doing regularly, needs to be tracked as a separate project. Writing, sketching, mapping, inspecting sites – those should all be separate time tracking projects.

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