Time Tracking: In Analog Style

IMG_0228.JPGAs a freelancer you need to keep track of your time spend on a account. Blech! Not my favorite task, but it has to be done. I tried several web and desktop tools, but it didn’t satisfy me.

Reading David Allan’s ‘Getting Things Done’ persueded me to follow a style of tracking items with OmniFocus but it doesn’t include any timetracking capabilities.

Searching around the web brought me to the website of David Seah and specificaly the Emergent Time Tracker.

‘Why’ you might think, ‘It’s the digital Age! Use an App!’. Nope, won’t do that because it becomes a hassle to startup the program/website, switching application, etc…

Just writing it down ‘analog style’ it’s quick and easy, minimal effort, no program crashes and also applicable with other tasks not computer related.

Every morning I start with a fresh sheet, fill in the date/start time and look on the previous sheet for things I didn’t finish. Then I look in OmniFocus to sync the various items done/to be done. If a phonecall call comes in or just got an idea I jot it down directly. If I’m distracted I fill the box with a dash.

On the end of the week I’m flipping through all sheets of that week to summarize the spend time so I can bill my customer. Didn’t find a program that suites me yet to do the billing, but for now it’s doable.

On my previous job it also helped me to tell the mangement that, even I was assigned several tasks with a deadline, I couldn’t finish them because I was interrupted constantly with ‘Fire Fighting’ tasks. Because I could now prove it, they realised it and altered procedures so I could Get Things Done™.

So it definitely helped me to focus on tasks, let me know what you think about it!

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2 Responses to “Time Tracking: In Analog Style”

  1. Dick says:

    The analog way is indeed a very good way to have a quick and clear overview of your daily productivity. You could set up a database (in Filemaker for example) where you can fill in the billable hours once a day/week. Link those hours to the assignment they’re for and see the total hours you spend on it as soon as the job is done.

    You can also set it to a maximum amount of hours for a certain assignment. When you make too many hours for it you can warn the client in time or learn from it the next time you work on a simular assignment (that has a fixed price).

    It works fine for us at the studio. I also gives you a clear status which job is done and which one is not. And when you have to take action to keep the project going.

    Only lack is: filling in those hours at the end of the day/week. Not my favourite hobby either! :-)

    Cheers and good luck with it!

  2. Pasz says:

    I kind of envy the people that succeed in using pen and paper tools (a paper agenda, hipster PDA’s, and the time tracking system you’re using) to organize their lives. I tried the low tech approach a few times but everytime I run into these problems:

    - My handwriting is horrible
    - Spotlight search doesn’t work IRL… I have a natural talent for misplacing paper items.

    I like to keep it digital because things are legible and findable that way :).

    The tools I’m using now are:

    - Omnifocus, for managing todo’s
    - iCal, for planning the time to do the todo’s in Omnifocus
    - Billings 3, for timetracking and invoicing. The timer is placed in the menubar on the right, which make app-switching unnecessary. When I get a phonecall or an unannounced visit, I just press the pause button next to the timer!
    - Spotlight search ;)

    See you in two weeks at the next Open Coffee? :)