15 minute #wincrements
June 22, 2015 9:12 PM   Subscribe

What is the best online resource for helping artists and programmers employed by an agency/consultancy to cope with manually completing timesheets as a requirement of their jobs? It needs to be independent of the software the agency uses.
posted by michaelh to Work & Money (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What precisely are you having trouble with? Recording what you are working on, keeping track of exact start/stop times, getting the data in some way so it's easy to move over into the agency's software?
posted by bjrn at 11:17 AM on June 23, 2015

I use Freshbooks for tracking time. It has a timer that will track to the minute, but before submitting each block of time you can edit the time logged if you need to round it to the nearest 15 minutes. I haven't used the invoice submitting features, but it is pretty feature complete. It costs $20 a month for the basic package (30 day free trial).

Nutcache (free) seems to be recommended by quite a few users in this list of Freshbooks alternatives.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 12:05 PM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sorry, what I'm looking for is something 'creative' people who dislike timesheets can read or use to help them get better about it and resent it less, independent of what software their agency is using to track time. For example, it would be great if someone wrote a cheap ebook about it that could be distributed to several people. I haven't been able to find anything.
posted by michaelh at 6:44 AM on June 24, 2015

Not an ebook or online resource, but what about a lottery (money, tickets, food, etc.) where the only people entered into lottery are people who submit their timesheets on time. The idea is to reward the habit of filling out timesheets.
posted by mmascolino at 7:26 AM on June 24, 2015

Harvest is awesome, and I hate time sheets.
posted by punkrockrat at 9:20 PM on June 24, 2015

Best answer: I think you need to keep in mind that while you think it's a little bit tedious, other people might get something out of that data you are collecting (and you might too). Whatever your job is, it likely involves more than just performing the primary type of work. You might be "creativing" most of the time, but you're probably also doing a number of supporting activities. Part of that might be keeping track of how you spend the time you are paid for. It probably also involves scheduling with your colleagues/boss/clients. It may include writing some report/documentation about what you made, or something you want to make. It may include making a new pot of coffee. You may find it tedious, you might resent it, but it's part of your job.

The time you track might have an impact on how much your company can bill your clients. It may impact the budget of a project. It might impact how much time your colleagues get to work on their parts of the project. It might impact the deadlines set. Depending on where you are your company may be required to keep track of time spent on client projects. And once a project is done your company might want to check the billed amount against time spent by everyone who has worked on something, to see how profitable a project was. If a project went widely under or over budget, people will want to know this. But if no one is tracking their time, you cannot possibly know this.
I should add, the above is written as if your company does client work, but (most of) the points also stand for internal projects.

Of course there can be personal benefits as well. Accurately tracking time might show that you (unconsciously) are spending a lot of time doing things you should be spending less on (or not doing at all). It might also help you learn to estimate time better for future tasks (this obviously requires you to record an estimate beforehand as well).

When I started tracking my time with some rigor, I noticed I spent my time in a very fragmented way, skipping between projects during the day. This was something that caused a lot of waste. Knowing this I am now better at structuring my days and I'm fine with leaving things for a little while, knowing I'll get to them in due time.

I hope this helps you in some small way.

Personally I use Toggl for tracking time on various tasks/projects and getting summary reports. For me it works fine, it has desktop/web/mobile apps and it's free for teams up to 5 people.

In the past I've also used Rescue Time which automatically tracks which window you have open & focused on your desktop, and allows you to get reports on what you've been spending time on. It's very nice in that it's totally automated, and if what application you have open and what you need to be tracking are strongly connected then it could be very helpful.
posted by bjrn at 2:17 AM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the insights, everyone. Better education about some existing incentives/penalties, combined with better education about how exactly the entered hours turn into money which turn into other good things and/or lack of bad things, helped this situation.
posted by michaelh at 10:28 PM on July 19, 2015

« Older Dry my gin out   |   YANMD: Focal Adenomyosis, what do I need to know? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.