Daily Time Traking With Project Hamster

Our community of consultants are busy multi-tasking between personal, project, practice, firm, and eminence tasks daily. How do you track this daily work? Scratch pad, pen and paper, or worse memory. I’m sure you have more important things to worry about than noting when a task starts, ends and how long you worked on what. I know I do. The solution, Project Hamster, a Gnome Time Tracker application for Linux.

The desktop application is easily installed via Package Manager. Configure your Time Tracker Preferences, define Categories and designate activities for each, setup Workspaces, and even define Tags to appear in auto-complete. I setup a few categories work and open source. Within Work-DE category I have several activities Blog, Email, General, Meeting, Practice Contribution, Training, Time-Expense, TFS Work Items, TFS Work Items Analysis, Review. These are pretty much the actives I do on a regular basis that I want to track so I can easily report my time at the end of the day.

Creating a new task is simple. In the “Start new activity” start typing, auto-complete will help you find activities quickly, hit tab, then assign a new Tag or choose from the auto-complete feature. Click “Start tracking” button to begin tracking, then click “Stop tracking” once the task is completed. Of course it also supports restarting a task later, adding additional time if you forget to start or adding a previous task you should have tracked.

At the end of the day I get a complete summary of what tasks I worked on and how much time was spent on each. This is extremely helpful for reporting my time in the Deloitte Time and Expense system. This also provides me historical insight into where I’m spending my time most at the end of each week, month, year.

If you want more advanced reports you can access the data from the local SQLite database. To simple view the database you can use a tool like SQLite Database Browser. Otherwise, a quick WPF, Silverlight or ASP.NET application can host a few advanced reports.

I have not seen a good amount of FREE alternatives for those of you locked into Windows OS. Here is a few alternatives from Google SlimTimer, algTime, ManicTime, and Klok. I have not evaluated any of these nor do I endorse them.