May 25, 2018

Where Did Your Time Go? GNOME Time Tracker Knows - page 2

Getting Started

  • June 9, 2010
  • By Joe Brockmeier
You can also add activities on the fly, but you'll want to assign them to categories as well. I break out activities into broad categories; work, fun, volunteer, and personal. As a freelancer, anything I do that brings in cash (or check...) goes under work. Fun is for tracking leisure-time activities, and I make sure to account for breaks during the day as well as things like watching a movie at night or going out on a date. Personal is all the non-fun activities that need tending to, like grocery shopping or running errands. Volunteer takes care of work with open source projects. Adjust to suit your work habits and job situation.

If you break up your workspaces into tasks, you can even tell Time Tracker to switch tasks depending on which task you're working on. Go into Preferences and adjust the Workspaces preferences. System administrators or programmers might find this useful. Keep xterms in one workspace to track doing work on remote systems via SSH, email on another terminal to track time communicating with co-workers, and another workspace for IM or whatever.


To track time, just add the Activity and any tags you want to associate with the activity and hit "Start tracking" or "Switch" if you're already started a task. You'll also see previous activities linked in the main dialog under "Today." You can resume a task by double-clicking it.

If you get distracted and forget to switch tasks or get called away to work on something else, no worries. There's an edit icon next to each task that you can click to revise the amount of time a task really took. It takes a while to get into the habit of using Time Tracker, so expect to be editing quite a bit the first few days. You can also add previous activities by going to the Tracking menu and selecting "Add earlier activity."

Where the Time Goes

Time Tracker produces some really nice graphs and reports after you've been using it a while. Go to the Tracking menu and select Statistics, and you'll see a graph of the total hours spent working on projects, the start and end times, and the number of hours spent on different activities. This can help you visualize just how much time you spend on work versus fun, what times you tend to be working, and so on. For telecommuters and folks who are self-employed, this can be an eye-opener to realize just how much time is spent on work and play.

Time Tracker also provides an overview in a report format. Just go to the Tracking menu and select Overview. This gives you the current week by default, but can also be used to show the month or an arbitrary date range. Finally, you can save reports as HTML. Again, really handy if you want to justify your time spent to the boss. Unless you're not using your time wisely, and then it's a good way to find out where to improve. Spend too much time in meetings or fighting fires? Time Tracker is a really good tool to help show that explicitly. Use Time Tracker diligently for a few weeks and then take a report in to the boss to show just how many hours are being consumed by meetings.

Note that you need to have at least a week's worth of data before you'll get the statistics or overview. Again, you can enter previous activity, so this is a good way to get the feel of Hamster by plugging in last week's data. Make sure you add "productivity" and track your time entering data.

Like any tool, Time Tracker is only as good as the data you give it and if it's used appropriately. But it's a great utility to help not only track time, but see results if you need to revamp your work habits to be more productive.

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