If you need to track your time and expenses for billing purposes – or simply want to see where you are spending most of your time, you might want to check out an application callled OfficeTime. I’ve used this for several months already and it’s really helped to to discover how much time I’m spending on certain tasks during the week (I’ve learned that I’m putting in a lot more hours than I thought I was). Truth be told, I’ve tried several other time tracking applications in the past but this is the only one I’ve stuck with, no doubt because if its ease of use and features.
First Come Projects
Before you begin to use OfficeTime, you’ll want to add Projects and Categories. From the Create New Project window, you provide a name for your new project and if desired, a default category. So every time that you turn on time tracking for that project, the default category is automatically be added. You can change the categories at any time from the main window – even after you are done timing the session. You can also sync your projects with Calendar by sending your sessions to the Calendar app or copying your Calendar events to OfficeTime. Create new projects from the menu bar (File > New Project) or click the drop-down list on the main screen and choose new project. Once you have completed a project, you can then archive it so that it no longer appears in your active categories list. What if you need to resurrect a project? No problem, you can easily add it back to active status – along with all of its historical data.
Then Come Categories
A project may contain several different aspects to it – such as research, e-mailing coworkers, writing, editing, social media, filing, telephone consulting and more. That’s where the categories come in. Not only can you track the amount of time spent on a project, you can see which different areas of the project are taking up most of your time. If you’re spending more time e-mailing others than working on the project (or chattering on social media), you might want to consider some adjustments to your schedule. I find the ability to have multiple categories for projects gives me a better idea of how much time I’m spending on different areas of a project. Create new categories from the menu bar or click the drop-down list for any category in the main window and choose new category.
Tracking Time and Expenses
Not only does OfficeTime track the amount of time you spend on a project, but it can also can track expenses. When creating a category, add in an hourly rate for that category, which you can then use to provide you a quick overview of your expenses or billable hours. Additionally, OfficeTime can use this field to generate invoices for you.
Subtract minutes when you’re away
One feature that I really liked was the ability to subtract minutes when you’re away from your computer. The timer keeps track of mouse movements so if you’re idle for more than five minutes (the interval is configurable), a small box appears asking you if you’d like to keep or subtract the minutes. This way, if someone interrupts you, you take a bathroom break or you need to stop work because of a phone call, you can choose whether to keep or subtract the time you weren’t working on your computer.
OfficeTime offers a plethora of reports to meet the needs of most anyone. You can view project data for the current or previous week, month, year or day and can summarize your data in a variety of different ways: project, category, day, week, month, year, employee, etc. The report that I use most often is the Quick Report. You can choose the date interval from a drop-down list and filter your data by project, category, employee and more. I find this the ultimate flexibility in reporting.
OfficeTime also has an iPhone and iPad version which syncs seamlessly with your Mac. Often, I find myself going back and forth between all three so the syncing feature is essential for me. The best part, is that once you set it up, you don’t have to do anything. When you open the Mac application, it will automatically sync with whatever iOS version you have open and vice-versa.
Office time also includes the ability to set timers, which can be helpful to those who use the Pomodoro technique – or simply want to remind yourself to occasionally take a break. If you bill by the hour or simply want to see how you are spending your workday, you might want to give OfficeTime a try. They do offer a 14 day trial for you to test it out. Should you decide to buy it, the cost is $47 – and there is a Windows, Mac and iOS version.
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