Many of us have fallen in love with what I respectfully describe as graphic representations. It’s a broad category; one that for me encompasses everything from single-frame comic strips to a timeline of work accomplished for a specific project or client.
As much as I would like for a few moments to delve into the graphic beauty and intellect of my favorite comic strips– The Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes, Bloom County, and others– another is as near and dear to my heart. The timeline that makes money.
Track, Ye Shall Receive
Any Mac user who tracks tasks within projects for a client knows the value of good old fashioned time tracking. For me, one of the best methods of time tracking is the timeline method that comes with the Mac app Timelime and its corresponding iPhone app.
It’s one thing to have a list of tasks and projects and a time associated with each when presenting a bill to a client, but it’s something else again to view all the details of a day– tasks, projects, non-billable time, and a calendar– and chart which graphically represent all the details.
Clearly, Timelime is not your father’s task tracker and it beats a shoebox with slips of paper with lists of tasks.
Captured task and project data can be displayed as pure eye candy but in ways that are visually meaningful (clients love this kind of thing; it’s easy to digest, and looks as if the bill total is fully justified).
Switch between charts with a click to Timing, Pie, Bar, or Line to visualize selected data. Wait. Selected data? How do you get the data to chart in the first place?
That’s the fun part.
From the Mac’s Menubar you can set up and track individual tasks, check on details of each, and even realign them as a schedule for the day. Tasks can be grouped by drag and drop. Add notes to each task or timing, and then view the whole shebang in the calendar view.
As much as I love the eye candy of charting options, this, the Calendar view, is my favorite.
Why go to such trouble simply to track tasks and projects?
That’s a no-brainer for those of us who bill clients so we get paid for our work. Tracking tasks within projects and presenting them in an attractive chart or calendar is a good way to see exactly what happened to each day, where projects may have gone wrong, and why specific tasks and projects can be cost justified.
So, independent contractors and freelancers will love Timelime, but it’s also perfect for a few other groups of Mac users, including students who need to track time, and anyone else who wonders where the day went and why there is so much more month left over at the end of their money.
Timelime also has a lengthy list of options to sync data between devices using iCloud or Dropbox, and export data in a number of file formats good for invoicing apps. If your work life is on your Mac then Timelime is a bargain. The Mac version has been around awhile, but the new Timelime iPhone version works much the same way and syncs up collected data with the Mac.