Tracking coding time

Many years ago, when I was working at ESPN, I began feeling like I wasn’t spending enough time doing things that brought me into programming. The sheer act of coding and building things. I think I have a decent process now that helps me keep track of time without being extremely intrusive and feeling like a lot of time.

I went through a few stages until getting to where I am now.

  • Time tracking softwares

I used a few tools mostly aimed for consultants to track billing, etc. But they didn’t work for me. I am not accustomed to keeping track of time that way. I’d either work for many hours without any extrinsic motivator or just do something else. And, it felt like work for sake of work — keeping track.

  • Stayfocusd

It’s a great piece of software to block sites but sometimes I *do* have real free time or have to check facebook because my parents or friends have legitimate questions. Hopping back and forth didn’t quite work

  • Pomotodo

I love this software and still use it. I make a list of tasks I want to do — Pin them and work on a few of them at a time. It is based on the Pomodoro method: Work 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, continue. When I feel very overwhelmed, breaking tasks down like this has helped me a lot to get things done. When I’ve been in deadline crunch, I use this more than usual.

What my screen looks like right now (blurred to protect the innocent projects)

  • Wakatime

I started using this to track time spent actually coding. The software works as a plugin in all my editors and they track how many languages I’m using, which git repositories I’m interacting with and even which files. More than once, I’ve used the data from the site to determine I’m fiddling too much in a particular class or file and refactored it. The free plan keeps data for 14 days, which I’ve found to be fairly adequate. Also, my coding process has evolved quite a bit — there’s less Language and editor mess, I’ve mostly settled on Go and Emacs + Visual Studio Code.

This was my breakdown at Staples-SparX where Clojure was the main language. I don’t remember why I was spending so much time on C that day :).

When I hit my average or drop from it, I know.

And, the breakdown within the projects

The side-effect of this has actually been the reverse.. I’m proud of days when I log 0 days on editors — because I’m outside having fun! :)

Notice the dip on May 13 — I had a lot of fun riding around that day.

While there are 9 hours in-editor days and there are others, but it’s all about finding the balance and being productive when it matters!

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