Why we need a better time tracking experience

We believe that people are capable of doing and making great things, but increasingly finding time to do that work is difficult. Lots of us are living in an ‘always-on’ world filled with notifications, meetings, deadlines and almost anything except the time we need to do great work. As our friend Brigid put it recently, we’re living on The Internet’s Time, not our own.

For many freelancers, small businesses and agencies, time tracking is an important part of running a successful business because it helps with the planning, budgeting and measuring of work. While it’s something lots of people do, it’s also something lots of people dislike or find hard to do well. We run a small agency and we were those people.

Meet our new product, Tiller

A couple of weeks ago we announced that we’ve been working on a new product called Tiller.

Tiller helps individuals and teams track their time, keep focused and stay present while they’re working. We’ve done this by designing a dedicated hardware product that works with a light-weight software on your computer. We think it’s faster, easier and less disruptive to your day-to-day.

Defining the problem

Were the existing time tracking tools fine but we were using them incorrectly, or was there something else happening? As people who tackle these kinds of challenges for a living, we decided to look at the problem in more detail.

These are the three main issues we uncovered:

  1. We would forget to start and stop our timers
  2. When we remembered, it was kind of a pain to do it requiring lots of interactions
  3. Most products we tried would take us out of our natural work flow

So the question became:

Could there be a solution to time tracking that helped us remember to do it, was easier and kept us in flow as much as possible?

We now think the answer is yes.

Uncovering a solution

In-between client projects we began interviewing friends who were either freelancing or working in/running agencies. We wanted to learn more about how people engaged with their work. Do they track their time? What do they think about it? What tools do they use? Are they getting quality work done?

Shout-outs to Caitlin, Leisha, Carlos, Dean and Kate for giving us a hand.

We were surprised at how all-over-the-place business admin is for many people. We saw lots of people using different or multiple approaches to time tracking including apps, spread sheets and just pen and paper.

We found one consistency: people were having similar experiences to us and felt distracted and dissatisfied with the current systems and products they were using.

Talking to our friend Mike about the problem, he had an idea for a hardware based solution which was interesting because it challenged the most obvious assumption which was that the solution needed to be only software based.

This kicked off some new thinking for us. Would a physical device help you remember to track your time, make it quicker and help you focus?

April 2015, the first working prototype that would become Tiller

In early April 2015 we hacked together a working version of Tiller, which you can see above. The video was shown to lots of our friends and the response was unexpectedly positive.

Their responses gave us the confidence to spend more time and money developing and iterating through different hardware and software solutions.

Photos from the hardware development process #circles

After two years of research and trial and error, we now have a product that is almost ready to go to market.

Tiller is a small capacitive device and accompanying Mac and Windows apps. When you tap Tiller you can instantly start or stop a timer. Turning Tiller brings up an interface to switch between projects, clients or tasks. We’ve found that the hardware and indicator light help you create new habits and rituals that encourage you to be more focused and deliberate with your work.

A recent photo of a Tiller prototype shot by our friend John Deer

What next for Tiller?

Tiller started as a way to scratch our own itch and has been entirely self-funded. Now we’d love to take the product to other people who want a better time tracking experience. So we’re excited to announce that we’re launching Tiller on Kickstarter in mid-September.

We believe we’ve made a really useful and beautiful product and we’re excited to bring it to market.

If you want to stay up to date with Tiller, you can register your interest now at www.gettiller.com to find out our go-live date, get access to early bird pricing and hear some behind the scenes stories as we get closer to launch.

Thanks for checking our what we’ve been working on. We’d love to hear your comments and feedback on Tiller, our details are below :)

Happy making,

Nick, Ed, Tony, and Nick

🤳 See our pics on Instagram
🐣 Read our words on Twitter
👩‍💻 Tag your friends in our posts on Facebook
💌 Email questions and comments to hello@gettiller.com

We run a small digital product studio in Melbourne called Joan.

Thank you to Mike, Dean, Sarah, Gin, Dr. Time, Brigid, Anthony, James and Andrew at Trike, Peter, Brendan, and Tim, who have all helped to get us here. Also to our amazing beta testers, Cam, Dean, Sean, Emma, and Inna.

Thank you to Madeleine Dore for reading over this for us and providing feedback 💞