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Last post Author Topic: Looking for a project time tracker/nag tool that keeps me writing billable notes  (Read 11265 times)

David.P

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Hello forum,

I am looking for a very basic time tracking software that tracks time based on application windows title names.

I am usually only working on one or two projects at a time. Every project has its unique project number which turns up in the filename of each and every file assigned to the project.

Therefore, the software basically only should keep track how much time is spent in application windows that contain a project's number in their titlebar.

I already use a time tracking software like that which works really good. The only problem is, my current time tracking tool is working so silent in the background that I actually forget to write short descriptive texts that after like three weeks of working on Project A can be used for billing purposes.

Additionally, the software should be somewhat intelligent in the sense of noticing for example that if I have been working in a Word document related to Project A for one hour, and then spend like half an hour in the browser researching stuff (which actually might be saved in the project folder, again getting assigned filenames containing the project number), the software should ask me quickly whether this browser time was Project A related or not, including the possibility to assign a short descriptive text regarding what I have done in that last half-hour.

What I do not need is a full fledged procrastination suite with lots of analysis tools, or a large project time management software. I'd only like to track just that little bit better how much, and especially "what" actually I have been doing today in my projects A and B.

If I think about it, basically I would need the tool to do two things, additionally to just tracking window titles.

It would need to ask me questions like:

Quote
This afternoon, you have spent 4.7 hours in your project A's documents. Do you want to write a short descriptive text what you have been doing?
and

Quote
The last two hours, you have been working in your project A's documents, but you also have spent 50 minutes in the browser, mainly on the website "Archive.org". Do you want to write a short descriptive text what you have been doing?

Thanks very much already for any suggestions
Regards David.P
« Last Edit: August 10, 2014, 06:44:33 AM by David.P, Reason: thread title optimization »

Ath

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What current tool are you already using?

David.P

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That is an old tool called Rayflectar Project Timers that only tracks windows titles (which works great, so far).

tomos

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Here's an old thread - I suspect you wont find exactly what you want but there may be something of interest there:
Best way to track the time you spend on each project. Some people on second page there combining two apps - Anuran from Skwire, and an app - like your one I think that keeps track of window titles and time spent - FWIW there's two of those on dc, old, but may still work:
WorkCoach
Title Log
Tom

Ath

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And to add a tool that's been mentioned here before (and I've had it installed for eons, but hardly ever actually, actively, use) Manic Time
IMHO it has the features you ask for, though I've not investigated much.

tomos

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And to add a tool that's been mentioned here before (and I've had it installed for eons, but hardly ever actually, actively, use) Manic Time
IMHO it has the features you ask for, though I've not investigated much.

I've not used Manic Time, but looking at a feature summary, it, and TitleLog - that I mentioned above - both prompt you to 'explain' what you were doing if away from the computer.

Like David.P, I'd like to keep better track of what exactly I'm doing, also within individual projects. I like the idea of being prompted when leaving a window - what exactly was I doing there?
When I think about it, in my case I could be working on any number of aspects of a job within the same file/window, so maybe something like Anuran that pops up every X minutes would be the thing for me...
Tom

David.P

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True, however
Quote
I like the idea of being prompted when leaving a window
is not exactly it. I can "leave a window" about two times a minute...

I'd really need a prompt only every so often, and typically only if the time tracking tool would recognize un-typical activity like for example after I have changed a lot between windows that HAVE the project ID and windows that DON'T have the project ID in their titlebar -- which in my case would indicate that I was researching something (project-related) on the web.

wraith808

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Maybe TimeSprite is what you're looking for.  I used it when I was contracting, and it really helped out a lot.

Other programs I tried and they just didn't work for me were:

SnapLogger - Screenshots every so often but then you have to categorize.

yaTimer - Very pretty interface and reports.  But you have to get it set up, which was my problem.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2014, 11:45:42 AM by wraith808 »

David.P

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Thanks for the tip with TimeSprite. This
Quote
TimeSprite records the titles of the active window as you work, and intelligently groups similar titles to report how you spent your time
...sounds good since it probably would detect web research based on the browser's window titles.

David.P

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I have looked now at about three dozen project time trackers, but I've come to the impression that I seem to be about the only person who simply includes unique project numbers into the NAMES of ALL files of any given project, in order to easily and automatically track my time spent in those projects with a simple titlebar-aware tracker :huh:

Almost ALL tools and suites I found are not project-based but application-based  :down:

"It is so great to be able see how much time you spent on Facebook or in Outlook..."

Can't believe it...

Anyway, thanks for any additional ideas and tips you guys might have.

wraith808

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You did know you can affect how TimeSprite groups, right? 

timesprite.png

All of those in the window area below are related to a single project.  So I right click, select group windows, and presto- new window.  Similar windows are now grouped into that group also- or in case it doesn't get it, I manually assign it.

Or am I missing something?

David.P

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Yes, I will give TimeSprite a try because this seems closest to what I am after. However I don't even really need this kind of (manual) grouping of all kinds of document windows, since ALL of my projects files' names contain the project ID anyway and should (must) be grouped automatically, otherwise the tool would be a step backwards from what I already have.

What I'd need is A) "intelligent" browsing recognition like "assign all time that is spent on Archive.org in between Project A related windows automatically to Project A" (or ask me if this shall be done), and B) ask me at certain useful intervals if I'd like to write a short billable task description about the last 2 hours or so (for example if you recognize that I have started to procrastinate away on Facebook or Youtube).

wraith808

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Yeah... it won't ask you.  But if you don't need that kind of grouping, then the windows are grouped by titles in the group area also.

David.P

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Actually, if I think about it some more, what I need is exactly a tool that monitors the documents that I am in, and if it detects that since like half an hour, I have started to spend more than, say, 2/3rd of the time in a certain project number related document collection, it should start to ask me regularly what I have been doing there for the last hour.

There was one tool that at least does the "ask me regularly" part but now I can't seem to find it anymore.

Ah, I think it was this one:

http://www.fish-byte...hadoing/manager.html

This is also a very good approach:

http://www.businessr...mesheet/Screenshots/
« Last Edit: August 09, 2014, 01:29:42 AM by David.P »

David.P

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OK for a first step, I installed this:
https://addons.mozil...in-titlebar/reviews/

This addon puts the entire current url into the Firefox Titlebar -- in order to then be automatically tracked by titlebar-aware time trackers (the only ones that make sense in my view).

Now at least I can track the considerable amount of time that I spend on my like 5 research websites. Since I am normally only working on one project every given day, this web research time also can be assigned to the respective project manually afterwards.

David.P

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Well after having additionally installed Whatcha Doing,


...I more and more realize that what I mostly need is a "Nag Application" that comes up in a certain interval and presents me with a text entry box where I can quickly describe what exactly I have been doing in the last hour.

Whatcha Doing is great, but you can't really input text there, since it is limited to the tracking of categories only.

Any hint to other "nag applications" is welcome!

Tuxman

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I use Jiffy on Android.  8)
Which is a plain "time tracker" though.

I made the experience that tools which nag me are rather disabled than listened to.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2014, 10:29:51 AM by Tuxman »

wraith808

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Any hint to other "nag applications" is welcome!

Have you looked at Anuran?

David.P

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YESS! Anuran most probably is THE tool I am after. Thank you wraith!

tomos

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YESS! Anuran most probably is THE tool I am after. Thank you wraith!

as I suggested twice already :P
Tom

David.P

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Ouch tomos, you're correct! I don't understand why I have overlooked that you have already mentioned my present solution (combine Anuran with a title tracker) very early in this thread!

Probably it was due to the fact that initially, I was too focussed on my original idea of having that "intelligent" time tracker which only asks you what you did if it detects that something "special" is going on between the windows you use.

So I suppose this is the solution for the time being -- or is anyone aware of a tool that combines the features of Anuran ("nag me for descriptive text regularly") and a Titlebar tracker ("record the time spent in your projects' files") into ONE application?

Since a tool like THAT would be the most amazing and useful time tracker and billing helper on the market by far!

tomos

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yes, you weren't looking for something like Anuran when I was suggesting it :)

So I suppose this is the solution for the time being -- or is anyone aware of a tool that combines the features of Anuran ("nag me for descriptive text regularly") and a Titlebar tracker ("record the time spent in your projects' files") into ONE application?

this would be very nice - wonder would Skwire be interested...
Tom

wraith808

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yes, you weren't looking for something like Anuran when I was suggesting it :)

So I suppose this is the solution for the time being -- or is anyone aware of a tool that combines the features of Anuran ("nag me for descriptive text regularly") and a Titlebar tracker ("record the time spent in your projects' files") into ONE application?

this would be very nice - wonder would Skwire be interested...

I've been thinking about doing that... if he's not interested, and is willing to let me build on top of what he's done... :)

David.P

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or is anyone aware of a tool that combines the features of Anuran ("nag me for descriptive text regularly") and a Titlebar tracker ("record the time spent in your projects' files") into ONE application?
this would be very nice - wonder would Skwire be interested...
I've been thinking about doing that... if he's not interested, and is willing to let me build on top of what he's done... :)
Yess please :up:

tomos

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Brett's Title Log (Link to most recent version) was also make in AHK ...
Tom