As a productivity enthusiast and a geek who tracks everything from sleep, fitness and meditation to income, expenditure and time, I was super impressed by the new Timing (affiliate link) application for the Mac.
In this post, I’d like to share my thoughts on the new Timing app and how time tracking can help you to be more productive.
What is Timing?
Quite simply, Timing is a time tracking application. Similar to alternatives like RescueTime, it sits in the background on your computer and watches what websites, applications and documents you use, then generates reports to show you how productive you're being (or not being).
Apps, websites and documents can be auto-categorised and assigned to projects. So let’s say you use Pipedrive for managing client outreach. This could be assigned to a “Business” project and a “Client outreach” sub-project. Websites like Facebook and Twitter can be assigned to a personal project called “Social Media”.
You’ll then see total time spent on different projects, whether they’re personal or work related. Each project can be given a productivity score, so in the Timing reports you can see your overall productivity. Timing even shows you your most productive days and hours.
But it doesn’t stop at documents and websites. Timing also tracks keywords.
Let’s say your mail client is assigned to a generic project called “Email”. But you’re replying to client messages and Timing sees you use the word “proposal” in an email. Then instead of assigning this time to “Email” it assigns it to “Client outreach” instead because it recognised that keyword which is part of the “Client outreach” project. Pretty cool right?
Why is time tracking important?
At this point, you may be wondering why bother to track your time in the first place. I can think of a number of reasons:
- When you know your most productive days/hours, you can plan your time accordingly so that you assign high-energy focus work to the times you typically work best.
- You can see which websites and apps are distracting you the most and make a conscious effort to stay away from them.
- For freelancers or consultants, you can track time spent on client work, generate reports and invoices for billing purposes.
- And you’ll get a motivational boost every time you look at the reports and feel inspired to beat yesterdays productivity score.
For me, I like to see the total time spent on different projects and activities so I can make better decisions around how to spend my time. For example, if I see that email is consuming a lot of time, I can make an effort to reduce this. And by tracking total time spent on my business, I can stick to a time budget and avoid working longer hours than needed.
Why I’ve chosen to use Timing2
I been using RescueTime for years, however, I don’t find the reports to be that useful. The information I was being shown didn’t really help me to make better decisions or improve my productivity and I would only check the reports very occasionally.
When I first saw Timing2, it appealed to me right away. First off, it’s beautifully designed. This is a big deal. Simply because it looks nice and displays information in an easy to read way, I use the application a lot more.
Secondly, it does a great job of auto-categorising my activities in the background. You can leave it all day/week and it’s going to give you a pretty accurate picture of how you spent your time. Even with this being the case, I like opening it up at the end of each day, checking how things have been assigned and viewing my progress.
One of my favourite features is the ability to create tasks. Imagine you’re working on a project and jumping from email to Evernote, to various websites and documents. Timing will likely categorise each of these activities separately. i.e. Email would be assigned to an “email” project and websites may be assigned to “web browsing”. But really, you're working on one task and so this time should be assigned to one project (even though you’re using a range of tools and websites). This is where you create a task and tell Timing that all the activities during a specific period of time should be assigned to one project. Timing will even suggest tasks to create and as part of my end of day routine I’ll often go in an create these tasks so my time is more accurately tracked.
And finally, you can create tasks for non-computer activities like meetings and add these to Timing as well (something not a lot of time trackers do).
Watch my video demo below where I explore the key features of Timing.
I’m currently using the “Professional” version of Timing because I want to be able to create tasks.
If you’d like to give Timing a test drive, you can sign up for a free trial here.