For public relations professionals working in an agency, tracking hours can be one of the most grueling tasks of the gig. Using a stopwatch or even worse, guessing/estimating your hours of work after your day’s work can lead to confusion for you and frustration for your clients.
Luckily, like almost everything else in 2021, there’s an app for that, and it’s called Toggl Track.
I was first introduced to Toggl Track earlier this year by my National Committee colleague Jenna Renaud. At first, I was skeptical of using the service, especially considering the fact that I didn’t need to log hours for anything at that point (I simply showed up for class, completed assignments for the various obligations I had, and showed up for shifts at my part-time jobs).
But after a while, I started experimenting with the app and now it has become an integral part of my workflow. Something I’ve struggled with during this work from home year is separating work from leisure: I always felt that I hadn’t worked enough each day and would stress myself out when doing things that aren’t work-related: playing video games, hanging out with friends, etc.
This app allowed me to mentally compartmentalize work and leisure. When I activate the timer, I’m on the clock, so no checking social media, no responding to personal texts, etc. It helps me focus on the task at hand, like writing this article for instance. When the timer is off (either during a built-in break or when my work is done), I actively try to steer away from work (no looking at emails, no setting my agenda, etc.). This allows me to turn my work brain off and take care of other areas of my life: my relationships with friends/family, my hobbies and interests, and of course, self-care.
Okay, so enough about me, how does this app work?
It is a very intuitive and easy to pick up tool. The app can be accessed via a web browser, a desktop app, or a mobile app. The app breaks things down into two main categories: projects and clients.
Clients are the overarching categories that projects fall under. This is perfect for an agency, as you can illustrate what tasks were performed for a client and how long each task was worked over a period of time. For me, I created the following categories for this past semester:
Projects are the tasks worked on for each client. For an agency, you could make a new project for each component of a campaign (social media content calendar, competitor analysis spreadsheet, etc.). For me, I divided projects up into the major recurring tasks I do for each role and made a project for each class nestled under the Spring 2021 client.
The timer tab allows you to start a live timer for one of your projects or log timestamps for previous work on projects. You can also add a description for each project, which is helpful for adding any extra notes that you need to follow up on.
The reports page is my favorite page of the app as it allows you to easily see where you are spending your time. You can easily see a view of your logged hours for the day, week, month, or even year. The app also saves a running record of everything so you can see how your workflow progresses month to month or even year to year.
The best part about it: this app is completely free to use! It syncs across all devices as well, so no worries about a work session not being tracked in your account. The app also has some more features that I haven’t explored yet, as well as a few other Toggl products, Plan and Hire, that may be worth checking out.
Try this app out for yourself or another method of time tracking. It could prepare you well for a role within an agency or at the very least aid in separating your work life from your personal life. Happy tracking!
Zach Ferenchak, 2020-2021 vice president of brand engagement, is a graduate of Capital University, a private university in Columbus, Ohio. There he studied emerging media with an emphasis in public relations and minors in journalism and marketing. In his career, he hopes to tell authentic brand stories to aid companies in reaching their business goals. Connect with Ferenchak on LinkedIn or Twitter.