Be Merry, Track Your Time
Although somewhat of an anal sport, time tracking and time tracking software is often times taken for granted by most folks. Even freelancers, the people who live and die by their output, all judged on a per hour basis, sometimes neglect the need of quality time tracking. Hopefully this rant will make even the deepest salary ridden fool think twice when it comes to skimping on starting that timer.
###Software is Dum It really is true. I hadn't thought about it until now, but there is a possibility that you could time yourself with a stop watch (IN IRL!!) and record each section onto some spreadsheet. Just let that sit in. Uh, and I am 99 percent positive that some people still do it this way. Don't fret though, there are some quality alternatives.
- Rescue Time: Sits in the background and tracks time spent on websites, documents, etc. Focus mode blocks you from distracting websites. Rescue time is great to guage how distracted you are during the course of a day.
- Slim timer: Currently my staycation. Lean, simple timer that leans heavily on a robust and easy to understand tagging system.
- Cashboard: Full featured web client that even takes payments. Much more than just time tracking.
- Harvest: Elephant in the room. Harvest has been around for quite some time and has a product that is polished and a joy to use. In addition, they have a dedicated iPhone app.
- Toggl: On the same lines as Cashboard. Large project with a responsive design that works well if you mentally split up everything by client, project, tag, workspace etc.
- Freckle: A gorgeous and fun app written with the idea that all software should be cheerful and a joy to use. Freckle takes the top design award out of the bunch. In addition, it is written, designed and marketed by the genius power- duo: Amy and Thomas at Slash7.
That's it? Yeah well, this is just a little snippet of what is out there in terms of web based software. Get your feet wet, find something that fits your lifestyle and then jump to the next section.
###User Error Since all of the above software has some form of payment attached to its use, how does anyone get what they pay for? First ask yourself, are you using it? Aside from RescueTime, all of the options above have an elegant and simple way to export tasks into a csv format for billing. Keyword here being "export".
There is always (most of the time) the ability to type in a start and end time for a project. However, this is usually a crap-shoot, which means, if you haven't been keeping up, you are undervaluing yourself. All that billable work that is getting completed but, no one is getting paid. Because someone has timer, "baby" issues.
It's true. In almost every case, the software comes bundled with a timer that you can start once you begin working on a project, and stop when you are finished. This is a much more acurate rendition of the work. The freelancer is no longer stiffing himself that hour, and he has a much more accurate view of how long it takes him or her to complete a givien task. Now we are getting paid more AND we are 100% better when it comes to estimating? BRILLIANT!
Don't be scared to start that timer. For one, it isn't going to start its self, nor is it ever going to be exact unless you do.
###Less Boring Shit != More Anal Best headline ever, personally. Anyway, so now that we have a crazy easy and somewhat scary system put into place to time work, why on earth would we use it outside of the specific domain? To become a time tracking uber elite, (they are listed next to the grep uber-elite folks) time tracking must be an integral part of everything you do.
How much time did I spend on Hacker News yesterday? Well shit, let me fire up Slim Timer and run a report for you. General RSS and blog reading, blog formulation, Mr. Pregnant, ALL of it should be tracked. You are not a fun sponge if you track how much time you "faffe off" on Fbook and Youtube all day. Everytime the timer starts and it isn't timing a piece of creation, a small piece of us know that we need to get back on track.
The pain will subside, but promise yourself that you will track every activity that is important or that you want to do less of, or that you want to get paid more for doing...or whatever. Just start that timer and then proceed to do loads of awesome shit. We certainly could use more "awesome shit" VS useless Reddit posts about how to be an American and or a minimalist.