One of the reasons that iCal is so popular is that it’s so easy to see what’s going on. Even with multiple calendars, a quick glance at iCal gives you what you need to know. Your schedule for the day, week, or month.
Wouldn’t it be cool to have a task timer attached to iCal so you can track your time on specific projects? There’s an easy and inexpensive way to do just that. And it’s easy to use.
iCal, Meet Minco
iCal is the Mac utility that most of us know how to use. Managing a to-do list is a snap. Scheduling is simple. Even managing multiple calendars is a no-brainer (though sometimes I forget which color is associated with which calendar).
Minco is a Mac time tracker that connects to iCal.
Think about that for a moment. Imagine a timer which tracks your tasks using iCal.
That’s it. iCal does the work of listing all the tasks we have through the course of the day. Schedule tasks as time elements. Minco tracks the time in an elegant and powerful database that pulls data from iCal.
Time Track Workflow
I don’t care for the term workflow. But tracking my time is acceptable verbiage. Minco tracks my time. All I have to do is keep an accurate schedule in iCal.
While I use iCal (because it’s on both my Mac and my iPhone and integrates nicely to both via MobileMe), any other Mac utility which connects tasks and schedules to iCal will work, too.
Forget the formal workflow. Consider these basic steps. You need to schedule some work and create a To Do (most of my incoming work comes via the phone or email).
iCal does what it does best. It holds your tasks in a schedule, and lets you track To-Do items. Once you place an entry into iCal, Minco goes to work. Click to Minco and select the task, then do the work.
That starts Minco’s logging process which then matches your scheduled tasks to the amount of time you actually use to accomplish the task. The cool thing about this process (not workflow) is that it’s all visual. What you see in iCal requires only a click to get started.
But wait. There’s more. Unfortunately, it’s not more simple. It’s more as in think-before-you-click.
Behind the scenes, Minco is really a database, logging and storing all the time you spend on specific tasks and projects. Databases can be complicated little beasts, but the information they have is what you’re after.
Minco makes it easy to assign an hourly rate or value to specific tasks or projects.
What’s the next step. An invoice. Tracking your time is nice, but tracking it so you can bill someone to pay you for your time is the American way.
And this is where it gets complicated. Minco is so simple and elegant to use as an iCal task timer, but more problematic when it comes to creating an invoice. You need an invoicing app for that, but Minco does spit out the appropriate data.
It’s just that Minco went from being useful and fun to complicated and I didn’t even have to click. Many invoicing apps for the Mac already have a task timer built in, so the problem that Minco doesn’t solve is solved by an app that also solves what Minco solves.
That sentence is too long, right? Regardless, for what it does, Minco is a steal at $15 but would be worth more with a better way to invoice.