Have you ever reached the end of a day with your mind and body telling you you've worked hard, but your sense of achievement telling you the opposite?
In vain, you wonder: "Where did all my time go today?" You'd quite like to know the answer, but time tracking is time-consuming - and that's the rub.
Most of us need to - or would find it helpful if we did - track where we spend our time to some degree or other. The amount of effort we put into creating/using tracking mechanisms depends on how critical it is that we do the tracking, and to what level of granularity of time and task. More often than not, that means we don't track our time at all.
I haven't done any time-tracking for a long time, but two weeks ago I decided that it would be VERY helpful to get some sense of how I was spending my time across four or five categories. Nothing too complex, and no need for too much granularity. An error of two hours or so across the week wouldn't be too bad.
What I didn't want was for the time tracking to interfere with my flow of work - and to be able to easily make adjustments retrospectively should I forget to allocate some time.
The research I did was by no means exhaustive, because I very quickly found something that suited me perfectly: Brium.me
It is brilliantly simple: you communicate with it via any chat tool (I use Google Chat on my laptop or my phone) and it books the time accordingly.
I type "yda: newsletter", and from that moment, time is booked to "yda: newsletter". I type "plan: daily tasks" and time starts being allocated to that. I start working again, but forget to tell Brium, so I type "yda: website from 11:15" or "biz: admin for 21 minutes" and it adjusts the previous activities immediately.
Right on the main dashboard I can see where my time has been spent across the main categories (yda, plan, biz - for example) for the current day, for yesterday, for the last 7 days and for the last 30 days. An immediate consequence is that I can see, at the end of each day, how many hours I've spent working over the past week: I think I may be contravening some European working-time legislation.
Here are some of the things I love about this service:
- I can make up task/project names on the fly, and adjust them later: I didn't have to plan out all my time tracking tasks beforehand.
- It tracks to the minute.
- The time overhead of recording what I'm doing is as minimal as it can be.
- I can communicate via my laptop or my phone.
- It's FREE for up to five users on an account.
I've been testing it out for two weeks now and I'm sold - or I would be if I had anything to pay.
My only complaint is that the interface is a little quirky and the reporting doesn't do all that I'd like. But I've created a spreadsheet (which I'll happily share with PRO members) that easily provides any analyses I want using data that is easily exported from the system.
Finally, I would advise reading through the help page before testing it out: you'll save yourself time.
If you need to do any time tracking, I highly recommend checking out Brium.me.
If you have your own favourite time-tracking tool, or if you try out Brium.me, let me know in the comments below.