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Help me organize my time and projects by the hour.
November 29, 2008 3:51 AM   Subscribe

What time/project management software or sites might be able to help me view my week in hourly clumps and allow me to check off completed tasks or monitor their success? I've tried a number of GTD services, but none of them has been quite right, so I'm looking for suggestions.

I've searched through Ask MeFi, but I've not really found anything like what I'm looking for, so here goes.

I really want to manage my time better. I already do pretty well on the whole, but I want to do better, so I can accomplish more. I already use Google Calendar for basic things, like house chores, but I've found it doesn't really cut it for me on other things--for whatever reason.

Pen and paper doesn't work for me, as I'm a very computer and mobile-oriented person. I've tried Todoist and liked its more textual system and idea of checking items off as you completed them, but it too fell short in the end. (It wasn't as intuitive as I'd have liked.) I tried Basecamp, but I hated the interface design and found it to be way too basic.

Currently, I'm trying out RescueTime for my computer time management, but I'd rather if it could do offline goal tracking and statistics as well...

It seems, overall, that I need a few features from each of these services, really, and I can't seem to find anything that fits that.

What I would like to find is some (preferably) web-based or desktop software that will work more on an hourly basis. What I mainly want to do is work a certain number of hours on various tasks, each week. I'm a student, and it's my summer holiday. I want to freelance several hours a week, work on art for a number of other hours, write, etc.

What time/project management software or sites might be able to help me view my week in hourly clumps and allow me to check off completed tasks or monitor their success?

P.S. - It'd be great if there were some sort of mobile alert thing for this as well, but it's not necessary. Would just be a nice to have.
posted by metalheart to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
The one that I've used for time tracking at work that does the trick for me is SlimTimer. It's a web app, but if you download Bubbles, you can run it on your desktop.

Another option is an Adobe Air app called Klok. Not as simple to use as SlimTimer but it's more powerful.
posted by DrDreidel at 6:38 AM on November 29, 2008


Thanks, DrDreidel.

I've used SlimTimer for work in the past, too. It's quite good! I'm considering checking out Toggl soon, though. It seems exactly like SlimTimer, but maybe a bit more integrated. Could be wrong, though; I've not tried it yet.

Klok looked nice, but it still has this concept of creating very specific tasks, when I'm wanting to dedicate random clumps of time to tasks, within the week.

Maybe I didn't make that clear in my original post (It's hard describing what I want for some reason!). For instance, I want to try to spend 20 hours a week working on my artwork. I don't want to dedicate specific hours for this, though, in the way that calendars restrict one. I just want to make sure I do spend 20 hours, all together. So I need less of a system to track what I should do (though I guess that's needed a little, which I can use Google Calendar for). It's more like I need a system to keep track of what I have accomplished throughout the day. It'd be awesome if it gave me reports over time, too.

This is/would be hard to track without some sort of software, which is the only reason I don't do it already and with dedication!
posted by metalheart at 6:55 AM on November 29, 2008


>> For instance, I want to try to spend 20 hours a week working on my artwork. I don't want to dedicate specific hours for this, though, in the way that calendars restrict one.

I felt the same way, but I recently carefully blocked out my week on a calendar, and set it to repeat. The massive increase in productivity was pretty frightening. You spend zero time deciding during the week where/when you're going to stick in those hours--you just do it. If something gets in the way, like a random meeting or three, you just skip those hours and you'll still be insanely ahead of the game.

Keys for me: Do not block out more than forty hours (including repeat meetings, etc., in the 40), no matter what. Those forty hours give you a massive boost, and you'll naturally add more freestyle, if necessary. Also, I actually only block out one half-hour per hour at the beginning of each hour. This reminds me to work in a rhythm, intense at the beginning of an hour and more chill at the end, with a break at the end of the hour. Also, the half-hours lend themselves to being realistic and flexible--they let my schedule be highly elastic if I'm on a roll and I want to put an extra twenty minutes into something or if I stay late to talk to someone.

Less is more and realistic is better. If it's very doable it'll be more than you're doing now, much more. (I use Google calendar.) YMMV
posted by zeek321 at 8:26 AM on November 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


Maybe you could try Freshbooks? Set up accounts with your own tasks, then keep track that way?
posted by pammo at 2:45 PM on November 29, 2008


Been trying the scheduling thing with Google for the past three or four days. I've done it once in the past, and it didn't work very well. It's not going well this week, either. I don't wake up at the same time each day (I am happy with this!), and my schedule is erratic enough that I often don't end up following what I'd had planned for that day. I'm finding that discouraging.

Still looking for something or some software that can help me track how many hours I've got going for something. Toggl and SlimTimer are good, but limited in that regard, so I don't think either of them will work for that in the long run. They're pretty well suited just for the online, freelance world, not the let's-get-my-shit-together online and offline world!

@pammo, not really sure how I'd use Freshbooks to keep track of everything. Could you elaborate on what you had in mind? Thanks!
posted by metalheart at 2:09 AM on December 3, 2008


Check out a web-based project management tool called Intervals. It nicely merges time tracking and task management and includes other features like document sharing and invoicing. The time tracking is especially efficient because of the multiple timers you can start, stop, and apply to tasks and projects.
www.myintervals.com
posted by johnjreeve at 9:07 PM on February 3, 2009


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