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Where Did Your Time Go? GNOME Time Tracker Knows

Getting Started

  • June 9, 2010
  • By Joe Brockmeier
Have you ever thought about how you really spend your time at work? If you're wondering where the time goes, the GNOME Time Tracker is a great tool to help you keep an eye on which activities eat up your days.

<em>Time Tracker</em>
Time Tracker

Want to increase your productivity? Keep a close eye on how much time you really spend working versus eyeballing Facebook or working on non-essential tasks. For consultants or other workers who track time by the hour, the GNOME Time Tracker is a must-have. It's a simple way to track the projects you work on all day and produce useful reports to help you invoice clients or show your boss what you accomplished during the week. Even if you don't need to produce invoices or justify your time, you might be surprised by the results. If accounting for your time has seemed like too much a hassle, don't worry � the GNOME Time Tracker is simple and non-intrusive. A few days of use and it'll fit right in to your normal routine.

Prior to GNOME 2.30, the Time Tracker was a GNOME applet, which meant that it was pretty much limited to the GNOME desktop. With 2.30, it was split out into its own application so it's fair game no matter which desktop environment or window manager you use. It still has its own applet, so if you do use GNOME you have the option of running the Applet in conjunction with the main application.

Getting Started with GNOME Time Tracker

Most distros don't ship GNOME Time Tracker by default, but it should be available from the default repositories. Look for the "hamster-applet" package using Yum, APT, Zypper, or whatever your favorite package manager happens to be. The real name is Project Hamster, though it's been re-branded as GNOME Time Tracker for distribution with GNOME.

Time Tracker is available in Fedora 13, Ubuntu 10.04, Linux Mint 9, and will be available in openSUSE 11.3 when it comes out in July. It should be packaged for any distro that offers GNOME 2.30.

<em>Tracking activities</em>
Tracking activities

Once you have the package installed, look to the Applications menu under Accessories. You'll see Time Tracker with a blue and vaguely hamster wheelish icon. (Hamster, wheel, tracking your time... get it?) If you're using the GNOME desktop you probably want to go ahead and add the applet as well. Go to the GNOME Panel you want to add Time Tracker to and right click the panel. Select Add to Panel and search for Time Tracker. The applet is not absolutely necessary, but it will display the current activity and time spent in the panel � which I find pretty useful. It also puts Time Tracker just one click away, which is also nice.

Using GNOME Time Tracker

Time Tracker will require a bit of configuration to be most effective. It comes with a few default categories, but they may not reflect your work activities. Time Tracker includes two categories, Work and Day to Day, and activities like "Super secret project X" and "World domination." Good for Pinky and the Brain, less relevant for the rest of us.

To fix this, go to Time Tracker's Preferences. If you're running the applet, you can get there by right-clicking the applet and selecting Preferences. If not, the Edit menu in the Time Tracker menu will take you to Preferences. Then head over to the Categories and Tags menu in the Preferences dialog and set up any Categories and Activities you might want to use.

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