There’s just not as much time in a day as there used to be. Of course, the same could be said of months and years. They go by fast these days.
Do you ever sit down to work on a project, then get busy on something else, then wonder what happened to all your time? If so, TimeLog might be exactly what you need.
One of the more important elements of good time usage is control. Controlling time isn’t easy if you don’t know what you did with the time that’s already gone by.
Whether at work or at home or in between, we clutter our days with so many to-do list items that it’s easy to lose track. That’s where your Mac can help.
The Mac has a number of superb time management tools which help you schedule your time. But what about tracking it, either for yourself or as part of a business? That’s what TimeLog does.
This weekend I spent half a day upgrading a software package on a server. The new version was loaded with features, bells, whistles. And bugs. And complexity. What good is a huge feature list if your time is devoted to fixing what doesn’t work well?
In the past few years the Mac360 staff has devoted a lot of research time digging up Mac applications that do the job very well, don’t get in your way, look and feel like a true “Mac” utility, don’t cost a fortune, and don’t require six months of night school to learn.
TimeLog ranks on that list of good tools with the right touch. It’s remarkably simple to use because you’ve already used it. iTunes. iPhoto. The familiar left column, right column, click for detail format that shows up in many Mac applications these days.
Starting up TimeLog gets you the easy-to-understand windows of projects and details. There’s also a First Run screen which checks your Mac’s iCal calendars and imports specified calendars into TimeLog.
Start with a New Project, then a New Entry, or a New To Do item. Assign to a Calendar item, a client from AddressBook (you gotta love the integration on the Mac), or add a Category.
Detail can be added, too, including costs, additional costs, per hour, and so on. Calculations are handled automatically. Calculate what? The time you spend vs. the amount you want to charge (even if you charge nothing, the time you spend gets captured).
Selecting New Entry brings up an option to enter something new or to pull in an item from iCal. That’s very sweet if you’re an iCal user. Checking detail in each entry is as simple as selecting the Project, then click Range (the time period), then Client and Project, as needed. The bottom part of the TimeLog window displays the details, time, and dollar amounts if applicable.
Also on the bottom of the window are tabs for List view, Grouped view, a graphic Analysis view, and To Do Items, which are pulled from iCal.
How does TimeLog capture the time you work on a particular project? In the upper left corner is a big red Record button. Click and hold and a list of your Projects appears below. Select one, and the time recording begins. The digital clock window at the top (looks very much like iTunes) begins the timing.
Click the Record button again to stop recording time for that specific Project, Category, or To-Do List item. TimeLog does a commendable job of making the complex task of tracking your time a rather easy to handle effort.
There’s a few other bells and whistles, but for $20 don’t expect a full-fledged time management and project accounting system. What you want to do is track your time on your Projects, Categories, To-Do lists, and have them integrate automatically with iCal. That’s what TimeLog does.
Any gotchas? A couple. TimeLog is sufficiently simple to use that you may find yourself wanting it to do more than it does. It’s important to have iCal open on your Mac for full integration.
A word of caution, though the timing might be good for you—TimeLog 3.x works on Tiger and TimeLog 4 comes out after OS X Leopard is released in October. If you buy now, the upgrade to version 4 later this year will be free, according to the TimeLog site. I suggest you try it out. If you like it, the latest version will be available when you upgrade your Mac to Leopard.
How do you track your time? Share your time management and tracking experience and problems in the Comments section below.