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I'm looking for a time tracking tool to monitor and boost my productivity. What I have in mind is a program that works in the background and keeps track of which application is active at any given moment, including which document is open in that application (or which website if the application is a browser).

Since I do almost all my work on my computer, this kind of tracking software will cover my needs. It would help me understand what I spend my time on, and especially keep track of how much time I waste on distractions.

Other features that would be cool:

  • Syncing with a calendar application (like Google Calendar).
  • Producing reports, and maybe sending them to a person of my choice (knowing someone I care about is monitoring me will really give me motivation to avoid time-wasting websites, for example).
  • Defining which applications, documents and websites are related to each project, so I could automatically get data about how much time I worked on each project.

I have heard of a few programs such as rescuetime and chrometa, but I'm not sure if they're any good, and maybe there's more I haven't heard of (there is also a comparison chart on wikipedia but it's pretty lame).
Do you know of any time tracking software? What are its pros/cons?

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closed as not constructive by HedgeMage Jul 9 '11 at 19:43

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Can you clarify exactly what functionality you're looking for in calendar syncing? Do you want it to import your appointments and somehow automatically categorize that time into buckets? –  Adam Wuerl Jul 7 '11 at 11:36
    
Importing appointments from my calendar is one thing, another is exporting the collected data back to the calendar. Of course I don't mean I want my calendar to display what I was doing minute by minute, but something like at which hours I was in the office (using the computer and being in the office is synonymous for me), or what are the projects I worked on for each day. On second thought I guess the exporting feature is a bit of a luxury, it's mainly the importing feature that you mentioned that I'm interested in. –  Joe Jul 7 '11 at 12:01
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As this is a poll about which software is best I think it would make sense to turn the question into community wiki. –  Christian Jul 9 '11 at 13:35
    
@Christian That doesn't make it a good candidate for community wiki -- CW is for posts that will (hopefully) remain community maintained for the long hall, not for posts that aren't-really-on-topic-but-we-like-them (such as polls). That said, I think this question could become legitimately on-topic with proper editing. –  HedgeMage Jul 9 '11 at 18:34
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3 Answers 3

ManicTime is a time tracking solution that has been worked out well over the years, it has the following features and comes in a free and paid version:

  • Auto tracking of computer usage
    Manictime sits in the background and records your activities, so you can just forget it is there and focus on your work. When you are finished you can use collected data to accurately keep track of your time.

  • Keep track of your work hours
    After you have finished working, you can use MT to keep track of your hours. That means no more "punch-clock" like software, where you always forget to start or stop the clock. Just sit back and do your work. After you are finished, you can easily use collected data to accurately keep track of your time.

  • Simple and intuitive UI
    During the course of the day average user can switch back and forth between applications more than a 1000 times, which means ManicTime gathers a lot of data. Using our timeline technology Manictime presents the data in an easy to understand way. You can drag on the timelines to select time or just mouse over to see hints about underlying data.

  • Local storage
    Gathered data can sometimes be sensitive and you don't want it sent over the wire and shared. That is why all the data Manictime gathers is stored locally on your computer and you can delete it any time you want. Having a local database also enables you to use ManicTime offline, without an Internet connection.

  • Powerful statistics
    See which applications you use the most or on which web sites you spend the most time. Also easily figure out how much time you spent working on projects to accurately bill your clients or just keep track of your work.

Check out the tour on their site for more information...

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ManicTime looks nice. I see how local storage can be an advantage, but for me it's actually a disadvantage, since I want to track my time on two different computers (work and home) and sync the collected data. Also I want to access my data from anywhere, and I am willing to live with the risk of having the data stored online. –  Joe Jul 7 '11 at 9:28
    
Also ManicTime doesn't sync with any calendar application. However, I don't know of any time tracking solution that does, which is strange since this seems like a must-have feature for anyone that organizes his/her time with a calendar. –  Joe Jul 7 '11 at 9:33
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Love the way this looks. But I wish there was a multi-platform sync-ing version of this. I use many different computers through the day, often in multiple locations, so I would want one that could handover to my android phone when in transit, then the next computer I log in to. –  Rory Alsop Jul 7 '11 at 9:44
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@Joe, @Rory: Try placing the database in a Dropbox folder, I've seen it solve other situations where syncing was required and don't see why it wouldn't work for ManicTime. –  Tom Wijsman Jul 7 '11 at 16:28
    
@Joe: Calendars are meant for planning, so that's why the chance to see this feature is rather small. It would indeed be nice but it's not really necessary given that looking at the past and future are two different actions... –  Tom Wijsman Jul 7 '11 at 16:32
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I've been trying out RescueTime -- their "Focus Mode" feature is quite useful, but unfortunately it's only available as a trial for non-premium users.

Wakoopa works very well, but even though it recognizes specific websites you visit, it doesn't track documents you open in other software.

There's a Chrome extension a friend of mine told me about, called StayFocusd -- but I haven't tried it, so I'm not sure how it works (i.e., whether it tracks time or just maintains a blacklist of distracting sites to block).

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Have a look at http://www.paymo.biz/ I've been using this for about 2 months and it works well for me.

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I had a look at it, but it seems you have to manually enter the task you're working on in order to track the time it took. This is not what I'm looking for at all. I'm looking for a solution which will automatically measure the time I spend on different applications, documents and websites on my computer. –  Joe Jul 7 '11 at 10:40
    
It has a client tool (I'm using the one for Windows, not sure if it's available for Mac/Linux) that acts as a timmer, you just need to click start/stop. And the tool even tracks idle time (i.e. when you don't touch the mouse/keyboard for sometime) and notify you. However this is still not the one you wish. –  Hoang Tran Jul 8 '11 at 6:14
    
Welcome to the Personal Productivity SE site. Please provide explanation of the tool, its use and applicability to the question in your answer, rather than a link and a generic comment. Thanks. –  Dmitry Selitskiy Jul 14 '11 at 0:56
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