I need to track time for my project work so we know what to invoice our customers. So, I've experimented with several tools and approaches to keep track of my time over the years.
One approach that worked well for me was tracking time on paper. I would have a rough plan for my day on the page, and as I worked on things, I would jot it down and add the amount of time I spent. While this worked well enough, I didn't get many benefits of digital tools, such as reports and insights.
I've tried Toggl, ManicTime, Harvest, Time Doctor, Timely, and a few other digital tools. While they're all great in some way, I still had problems. Either I'd forget to start or start the timer, or I'd spend way too much time configuring the tool in an attempt to have it track all of my time for me.
Next, I tried Timeular because it comes with a device that sits on your desk. When you want to start or stop tracking, you flip the device. I was hoping this would be an excellent middle ground between analog and digital.
At first, I became skeptical. Since I was limited to tracking only 8 things with the device, I struggled because I was swapping out the projects assigned to each side. This approach didn't work well for me.
So, I tried something different. I set up my 8 sides to track the type of work rather than specific projects. Unfortunately, now I need to use the software to specify the particular project I'm tracking.
However, I was pretty surprised by the Timeular software. Not only is it quite pleasant and straightforward, but there is a keyboard shortcut that you can use to quickly pop up a window where you can see which side your device is on and quickly add a tag for the project.
Now, my workflow looks like this:
- Flip the device to indicate the type of work (meeting, task, research, troubleshooting, writing, etc.)
- Press Ctrl-T to open the Timular popup and tag it with the specific project. Press Ctrl-Enter to save.
- When finished, I put the device back in the stand or flip it to something else.
It works! The simple software, keyboard shortcuts, and a physical device are a winning combination for me. I've been using it for months without even considering switching to anything else (which is impressive for me).
Of course, this isn't the perfect solution. As I said, you only have 8 sides on the device. If you only have up to 8 things to track, then great! Otherwise, you'll need to use the software to tag your time entries. I also still forget to start and stop the timer now and then. The calendar view in the software makes it very easy to fill in the empty spaces where I missed. There is also a mobile app that works well.
If you need a simple time tracking solution, I recommend giving Timeular a try.