Saturday, September 1, 2012

Emergent Task Timing

NEW: 1.0.5 Released

After 6 years of being free of timesheets I recently returned to consulting work and found myself having to deal with not one, but two timesheet systems. I remember dealing with them in the past. If you don't fill them in right away, you find yourself a week later trying to remember what you did. Sometimes even remembering what you did today is tough. 

But this isn't about timesheets. It's about personal organization and productivity in general. A key part of every methodology I employ is visibility. Visibility and pace. I found that without some form of pace setting, your mind can easily wander, interruptions seem to have no cost and tasks end up taking longer than they should. In the past I've used music and even movie audio to set pace.

Making time visible or audible can have a dramatic effect on productivity and awareness of where your time goes.  

So before I started my first day in my new role, I immediately sought after a solution. I was familiar with Pomodoro and had used it in the past. But it wasn't going to work for me this time. The work pattern didn't fit that particular methodology. I wanted 15 minute increments and I wanted something to track the total time I spent each day in a more visible way than most Pomodoro tools naturally offer.

I was really lucky to stumble upon David Seah's website. David came up with the concept of Emergent Task Timing, and offers paper based solutions. There are at least a couple of web based solutions too, but none of them met my needs. So I wrote a desktop version that I find much more handy with features like:

  • Support for multiple days (the two online versions were "today only")
  • Recurring tasks for things like daily meetings
  • 15 minute chime (optional)
  • "Not Today" warning to avoid accidental time entry on the wrong day
  • Double billing collision detection
  • Configurable start time and hours per day
  • Reordering of tasks with drag and drop
  • Hashtags for multiple sub-totals of time categories
  • Export totals to CSV to help share your day or integrate with other systems
  • Updates 1.0.5 (Nov 9th, 2012)
    • 16 hour days
    • Earlier start times
    • Double-click to delete
    • Shift-Enter to add a new task
    • Shift-Click-Drag to highlight multiple cells quickly
    • Double-click weekday to quickly return to "today" after navigating
    • See note below about signing certificate change before upgrading
As for the timesheets, they become a piece of cake.  I simply copy the time that I've tracked with a good degree of accuracy, as well as retrospect on my day at the same time. If you have goals such as billable hours per day, or Zero Waste Days™, you can use hashtags to tally up subcategories of time to help ensure that you meet your daily goal.

You can download it now to give it a try:

Download the Task Timer 1.0.5 
(Mac and PC compatible, Adobe AIR required)

*** Note: If you are replacing an installation older than November 9th, 2012, then please uninstall the old version before installing this new one.  The keys used for signing have changed, and therefore AIR will not allow you to upgrade it.  Your data will not be lost.

On Windows 7 your data files are stored in C:\Users\[username]\TaskTimer
On Mac your data files are stored in [userhome]/TaskTimer