Well, recently things changed. My client list expanded and my available time to work shrunk. I realized that a lot of my online time was wasted with constantly checking and responding to email or checking and responding to Facebook posts. What I needed was a way – some sort of daily work log – to track and quantify just how much time I could gain in productivity by cutting those areas where I waste time.
I took a look at some of the apps covered here at MakeUseOf, like the online trackers Shankar covered, the web-based time tracker called Yast, and the desktop trackers Damien covered. The problem was, the online trackers weren’t quite as versatile as the desktop ones, and the desktop ones listed above were either too complicated, or not detailed enough for my needs. So, searching on the web, I finally discovered the perfect daily work log on SourceForge called PC Fare Meter.
Getting Started With Monitoring Your Work
You see just how easy it is to use the Fare Meter when you start it up and see the helpful list of 4 steps to get started.
The software is called PC Fare Meter for a very simple reason. The PC Fare Mater essentially logs the time you spend on specific tasks just like a taxi cab driver logs the time spent driving particular customers around. This software will also help you figure out how to show that time in terms of real money.
On the main screen you’ll see the list of clients (or projects). You can add a new one at the bottom of the screen. If you are in a business like web design where you charge hourly rates, you can enter your hourly rates. You can also further organize these clients into “groups”. This helps you keep track of how much time you spend on different “types” of work.
The software is also configurable enough so that you can tell it how much of your computer activity to log, and you can even allow the software to monitor more than one project at a time. Multiple project tracking works by assigning certain window text to specific projects (as you’ll later see in this article).
Once you have your project list ready, monitoring your work time is as simple as clicking one of the stop watches and starting work. So, for example, before I start working on my next MakeUseOf article I click the little stopwatch. At that point, the software logs all of my activity and how much time I spend in each window.
This gives a much more accurate representation of how much you actually worked on what you wanted to work on. When you open the project, you’ll see a breakdown of the individual windows or apps you used, and how long you spent in each one. The software will also break it down by browser window, so I can see how much time I actually worked on the article and how much time I spent Facebooking.
Sometimes, you might remember something you had to do for a different project, so you’ll open up a new window, finish that task, and then get back to your original project. You can go into the PC Fare Meter and reassign that activity time to the correct project by simply clicking on the activity and clicking the “Move Windows” button. You can select the correct project for that activity in the pop-up box.
As another useful organization feature, you can also name the task grouping based on what you were working on. This means that within a project like “MakeUseOf”, I might start the timer at the beginning of writing an article, and I’d call that “Writing”. Then I’ll start the timer again and call that grouping of tasks “Editing.” This lets you break down your work, especially for clients that like to see a detailed breakdown of work on an invoice.
Don’t feel like going in and “fixing” those little tasks that you perform? Let PC Fare Meter automate the process with the “Auto Move” feature. Here you can tell the software that if you’re using a window or browser tab with certain text in it – always log the time in a particular project bucket.
Of course, the software wouldn’t be complete or even very useful if you couldn’t export all of your time logs. With this app, you can export your information to a CSV file. You can also archive logs (a good idea when they get very large), or just save individual files locally.
For the most part, PC Fare Meter not only tracks your time, but it helps you to automatically organize that time into buckets that later allow you to get a better picture of how much time you actually spend working on what you think you’re working on, and also accurate charge for the time you’ve spent on different jobs.
Have you ever tried PC Fare Meter? Did it help you organize your computer time better? Do you use another activity logging app to develop a daily work log? Share your insight in the comments section below!
Image credit: A Syed