Many of us are required to complete some kind of timesheet. Even if filling out hours on a timesheet isn’t a necessity, we may still track our time on various projects. For freelancers, this may be useful for tracking time working for a client or just building an awareness of how long a particular task takes.

Do you have a preferred method of keeping track of your time? Share your experience in the comments.

Minimal Time Tracking

ClockworkFor several years, I have been using Clockwork, an old app by Hog Bay Software. With simple app, I have kept track of short lengths of time associated with various clients. For example, when I’m working on a particular task for Wilderness Torah (one of my part-time jobs), I run a single timer for that organization.

I have not created a separate timer for each of several tasks or domains, instead noting these separately on the organization’s timesheet or in my own notes. When I switch from working in one area to another, I stop the timer, record the time, reset, and start again. I realize this switching sequence may be an unproductive use of time, which is why I am exploring alternative applications.

For several years, I have participated on MacDeveloper, a site where I have the opportunity to test and provide feedback on in-development Mac applications. A couple days ago, a new version of Minco, a time-tracking app, appeared there and I subscribed to the project.

MincoMinco prepopulates itself with the tasks I have already created in OS X’s Reminders app so I can easily keep track of the time I spend working on each of them. I do not keep many such tasks in Reminders, though, so this feature is not immediately of use to me. However, I can create a timeline for each of my clients or projects and use Minco in the same way I’ve used Clockwork. Or, I can change my behavior and track specific task time.

As a Mac app, Minco is not ideal for me because it runs in the menubar instead of the Dock and offers no easy way for me to open it except by clicking its icon. I’m used to using the application switcher to switch to Clockwork where keyboard shortcuts quickly start, stop, and reset my timers.Yet, I’m intrigued to explore a little more and consider adopting a new practice.

Time-Tracking in the Future?

Hours Timer Running-9to5MacToday, Tapity launched Hours, which aims to take the pain out of time-tracking and offers to “make a tedious task (almost) fun.” In 2011, Tapity won an Apple Design Award for Grades, “the best app for students.”

This 9to5Mac review provides a full set of screenshots of Hours, whose interface is clean and seems intuitive, making me excited to try it. I am particularly intrigued by Hours’ ability to intelligently remind me to start or stop my timers and then show me the gaps in my timeline so I can fill them in if appropriate. Its reporting display suggests that filling my timesheet daily or weekly rather than after every spurt of work will be really easy.

I previously used Eternity, however its developer envisioned simpler tasks (like sleep, work, and play) and its interface is just not as beautiful as Hours. Plus, I was using the free “lite” version of Eternity, which is limited to seven tasks and the unlimited version seemed a tad expensive at $15. Hours will be $10 and is half price right now in celebration of its launch.

Not all of my work takes place on my Mac and while I have a great internal clock and memory of timestamps, I would value a well-designed app on my iPhone for tracking time when I’m away from my desk. If I start using Hours, I’ll let you know about my experience. Check out Tapity’s video of the experience for a better idea of what Hours might have in store for me—and maybe you!

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