Work tracker for a bunch of projects

Ma
Maelduin
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Thu Dec 03, 2015 10:16 am Post

Like a lot of writers, I'm working on different projects and trying to keep balls in the air - a couple of days teaching here, an interview there, editing or writing a web page or site, and, underlying it all along, the long book I'm working on.

I saw someone happily posting an image on Twitter from a health app, showing how various health aspects were performed over a month (image attached). Is there anything with a similar GUI that I can use to track the work I do on the different projects on different days, to try to improve the balance? Mac, by the way.


Track health.jpg
Health tracking app
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Hu
Hugh
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Thu Dec 03, 2015 2:02 pm Post

I'm not familiar with the health-tracking application that you show, and so I can't recommend anything that resembles it. (And I know of nothing that can immediately provide a complete answer to the question: "How am I doing in general and in detail across all my writing projects?")

However, from experience I can offer some general observations. If I were in your position, I'd start by asking myself some questions. Do I want to track all my work-time activities, or just my writing projects? There are applications that can do the former, both desktop (e.g. OfficeTime) and online (e.g. RescueTime) - although a pencil and a wall-calendar can be nearly as efficient.

If I simply want to track my writing, do I want to track words written, or time spent, or both? For time spent, again OfficeTime, RescueTime or their numerous competitors or a wall-calendar or diary will fit the bill. For word-counting, there is of course Scrivener's own word-counting feature, or for something wider that will count all the words that you write on your computer there are several applications, including Word Counter and WordCounter (two different pieces of software, of which my preference is the second).

WordCounter will also keep a calendar record of your daily word-totals, although you could also record them in the application Word Count Dashboard - or even, like quite a few writers, in an Excel spreadsheet. If you Google "word count spreadsheet", you'll find (free) model spreadsheets of varying sophistication and usefulness that you can download and open in Excel. However, their use does require some understanding and experience of Excel (or, possibly, Numbers). It's also worth noting that many of them are written solely for NaNoWriMo and so cover a time period of no more than a month. But there are some that cover a year, and they will be able also of course to record the durations that you spend writing, assuming of course that you yourself enter the times when you start and stop (but thus enabling you to procrastinate happily working out your average, maximum and minimum words per hour, day, week and month, by project and over all projects, relating your word-count to your morale, graphing the results etc. etc. etc. If you take a look at some of them, you'll see what I mean. :wink: ).
'Listen, some quiet night, when you've shirked your work that day. Do you hear
that distant, almost inaudible clicking sound? That's one of your
competitors, working away in the night in
Paris or London or Erie, PA.'

Ma
Maelduin
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Thu Dec 03, 2015 5:28 pm Post

Thanks, Hugh. I want to track hours spent on different projects on different days, for instance:

1) De book (writing)

2) Teaching

3) Editing

4) De book (research)
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Hu
Hugh
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Fri Dec 04, 2015 11:01 am Post

It sounds to me as if OfficeTime (http://www.officetime.net) will do what you need.
'Listen, some quiet night, when you've shirked your work that day. Do you hear
that distant, almost inaudible clicking sound? That's one of your
competitors, working away in the night in
Paris or London or Erie, PA.'

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Siren
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Fri Dec 04, 2015 11:37 am Post

I don't think it does a graphical display, but I use an iOS app on my phone, called HoursTracker: http://hourstrackerapp.com
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Ma
Maelduin
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Fri Dec 04, 2015 2:17 pm Post

I use a similar thing for tracking jobs - On the Job - a nice Mac app that's been going since the aul' gods' day. Very good - you can set a price per hour or per job, pause it to go for a cuppa and restart it, etc. It will even print off invoices. But the graphical interface comparing amount of work done on different jobs on different days is what I'm after in this case.
Image

Jo
Jordi Mora

Fri Dec 04, 2015 3:28 pm Post

Maelduin wrote:I use a similar thing for tracking jobs - On the Job - a nice Mac app that's been going since the aul' gods' day. Very good - you can set a price per hour or per job, pause it to go for a cuppa and restart it, etc. It will even print off invoices. But the graphical interface comparing amount of work done on different jobs on different days is what I'm after in this case.


I juggle a couple of businesses as well as writing projects and use Timelime (note the second `m') for this. Its graphical display tells you all you need to know about about hours/percentages in three different ways.

http://timelimeapp.com

Just beta-testing an iOs version, which could be good.

Hu
Hugh
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Fri Dec 04, 2015 6:18 pm Post

Timelime looks very interesting, especially in terms of its impressive graphical displays. It also appears to stay out of the way on the desktop. The iOS app, if it syncs with the desktop app, will be a desirable addition (as would a way of entering projects as well as tasks).
'Listen, some quiet night, when you've shirked your work that day. Do you hear
that distant, almost inaudible clicking sound? That's one of your
competitors, working away in the night in
Paris or London or Erie, PA.'

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nom
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Sat Dec 05, 2015 11:29 am Post

When I need to track time more carefully, I use an app call Timing. It allows you to allocate specific files to projects, as well as track time in different apps. It offers a free 10 day trial.

Having said that, I just checked out Timeline. It seems to have some interesting ways of presenting data.
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Ma
Maelduin
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Sat Dec 05, 2015 11:56 am Post

Timeline seems just to be a way of saving various dates that things happen on, as jpegs.

Allocating files to projects isn't what I want - I just want to track, visually, how much time I've spent on specific project on specific days, to get a visual sense of the rhythm of my work and be able to control it better - "It's Tuesday, I'm only teaching an hour, so I can write for two hours", say.

Turns out that the original image I printed is automatically produced by the Apple Watch. Pity; if it had been a health app the user generates, I could have replaced, say, Calories with Novel and had the same effect. But no, the watch generates it itself.
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nom
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Sat Dec 05, 2015 12:03 pm Post

Maelduin wrote:Allocating files to projects isn't what I want - I just want to track, visually, how much time I've spent on specific project on specific days, to get a visual sense of the rhythm of my work and be able to control it better

This is exactly what Timing does and is precisely the reason I use it. :D
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Jo
Jordi Mora

Sat Dec 05, 2015 12:31 pm Post

Maelduin wrote:Timeline seems just to be a way of saving various dates that things happen on, as jpegs.


I don't know what app you looked at, but TimeliMe - which is the app I suggested - has nothing to do with saving dates as jpegs and seems to me to do a lot of what you want.

I have Timing too - but the problem is that I work a lot in analogue away from the computer and Timing doesn't record that (and on the computer often records trivia I don't really need to know about - like time spent reading the Guardian online, and on this and the Tinderbox forum ...).

Hugh - I'm beta-testing the iOS app at the moment, so I'll let you know how it goes.
Last edited by Jordi Mora on Sat Dec 05, 2015 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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nom
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Sat Dec 05, 2015 12:34 pm Post

Dr Dog wrote:
Maelduin wrote:Timeline seems just to be a way of saving various dates that things happen on, as jpegs.


I don't know what app you looked at, but TimeliMe - which is the app I suggested - has nothing to do with saving dates as jpegs and seems to me to do a lot of what you want.

I have Timing too - but the problem is that I work a lot in analogue away from the computer and Timing doesn't record that (and on the computer often records trivia I don't really need to know about - like time spent reading the Guardian online on this and the Tinderbox forum ...).

Hugh - I'm beta-testing the iOS app at the moment, so I'll let you know how it goes.


I'm curious too. :)
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Hu
Hugh
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Sun Dec 06, 2015 8:58 pm Post

I've used Timing and I still have a licence for it. In fact, I wrote a longer contribution to this thread in which I tried to distinguish between two types of work-tracking apps - those which require the user to enter information, and those which automatically track the software the user uses - but I canned it because (a) it was becoming a dissertation and (b) I didn't think it was what the OP needed.

Timing is of course one of the latter type. Ergonomically it's good and its displays are certainly colourful, but I found not only the problem Dr Dog highlights, but also its obverse: in tracking the application not the work, Timing - at least initially - fails to distinguish between uses of the same application for different projects. But horses, as they say, for courses.

Dr Dog wrote:
Hugh - I'm beta-testing the iOS app at the moment, so I'll let you know how it goes.


Thanks, Dr D.
'Listen, some quiet night, when you've shirked your work that day. Do you hear
that distant, almost inaudible clicking sound? That's one of your
competitors, working away in the night in
Paris or London or Erie, PA.'

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nom
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Tue Dec 08, 2015 10:07 am Post

Hugh wrote:Timing is of course one of the latter type. Ergonomically it's good and its displays are certainly colourful, but I found not only the problem Dr Dog highlights, but also its obverse: in tracking the application not the work, Timing - at least initially - fails to distinguish between uses of the same application for different projects. But horses, as they say, for courses.


I haven't used it much recently, but I *thought* you could allocate specific files to individual projects, regardless of the app used to open them.

UPDATE:
I just checked, and yes, you can add specific files (or folders, or websites, or apps, or email accounts, or... lots of things) to any given project. Further, individual files (or folders, or... etc) can be allocated to multiple projects.

This is, in fact, how I was using it. When I was establishing my private practice, I was also teaching at a university and conducting paid research. Teaching always took far more time than I was paid, and I needed to track how much time I spent on the research, so Timing allowed me to accurately identify time spent on both. I can look at the my logs and tell you how many hours were spent updating my student spreadsheet in week before results were due (8hr 29min). In the same week, I only spent about 50 minutes in Scrivener, 13 minutes of that was research related (looking at my thesis) while 35 minutes was trying things out in my test project (probably testing things I read on these forums – if I was really keen, I could cross-reference the times with when I was online here).

So projects in Timings can be defined more broadly, or more narrowly, than by app.
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