Automate your time tracking
Time tracking is painful, there is no way to sugarcoat it, so what do you do if you absolutely have to keep track of your time (for work related reasons for example)?
The way I approach it is by digitizing my time tracking and automate it wherever possible.
- Evernote (free)
- IFTTT — if this then that (free)
- Trello (free)
- Google Calendar (free)
- A smart phone (who doesn’t have one of those in their pocket?)
- A willingness to put it all together (notice that I did not suggest time … time is priority)
Putting it all together:
The trick is to get things to record “themselves” with as little effort as possible.
We will use Evernote as the place time tracking gets tracked, Trello as a source for things we did during the day, google calendar as a source for meetings that occurred during the day, the phone location for when we get in / out the office (for a break for example, or coming and leaving) and finally IFTTT to “glue” it all together.
This is how it will look at the end:
Step 1: Evernote setup
For evernote you do not need to do anything. All you need is to know your credentials.
Step 2: Trello
Simply commit to using Trello to keep track of the things you are working on. Have a list called “done” where you will drag things into when they are completed. You can read this blog about setting up your Trello system to track your daily activities.
Step 3: Google Calendar
Simply commit to using Google Calendar as your main calendar, if you already have, no need for anything else.
Step 4: IFTTT
IFTT stands for “If this then that”, it allows you to specify things that should happen when certain events occur.
Initial Setup of IFTTT:
- Create an account with IFTTT (it does not cost anything)
- Navigate to “Channels”, and connect the following channels with your IFTTT account (you can use the search box for that):
- google calendar
Recipes setup (See the images with the details for each at the end of the blog)
Navigate to “My Recipes” and click the “Create a recipe” button, and create the following 4 recipes (see the screenshots below):
- A Recipe to add a new line with today’s date to a note named “Time Sheets”, this will allow you to clearly see every day, and what we did during that day.
- A recipe to add a new line with the day and time whenever a Trello item is completed.
- A recipe to add a new line with the date and time whenever a calendar event is due
- A recipe to add a new line with the date and time whenever you enter or exist a location (in my case work)
Every now and then rename the “Time Sheets” note to “Time Sheets YYYY-mm-dd → YYYY-mm-dd”. The same night a new note named “Time Sheets” will be created automatically.
I use this mechanism to keep track of my daily activities, and from time to time enter my timesheets into my favourite time sheets app (function point). The beauty if this system is that it captures more than just work related activities, but also personal ones.
That’s it ! life made simple !
See the pictures below for the different IFTTT triggers.
The above recipe adds a new line with the date every night at 12:00 am
The above recipe adds a new line with a link to the Trello task whenever a task in my “life” board (call it anything you like) is dragged into the “Done” list.
The above recipe adds a line to the note whenever a calendar event is coming up.
The above recipe adds a new line whenever I get to work or leave work.