Time is a commodity that every single one of us needs to manage and keep track of. You get a little complacent and it will slip through your fingers. It’s always nice to know where you are spending your time so you can manage yourself better, or perhaps you may need it to create invoices for your work. Whatever the reason, if you are on Linux, you are in luck because there is a simple yet powerful application to do all this for you – Hamster.
Hamster is available as an applet for the Gnome desktop environment and you can install it using your distributions package manager. It is most likely in there (or else you can install from source). Ubuntu users may sudo apt-get install hamster-applet. Once installed, you can add it to any of your panels by right-clicking on the panel choosing Add to Panel and then look for Time Tracker (not Hamster).
Hamster will appear as “No Activity 00:00” in your panel. Click on it, key in what you are doing and it gets down to the mundane work of counting how much time you spent in that activity. It also displays how much time you have spent in the current activity in the current session while inconspicuously adding them all together in the background to create reports for you.
Hamster lets you categorize and add description to your activities. This is especially useful if for instance, you want to view how much time you are spending on a “Complete Project” which itself is made up of sub-tasks or sub-projects. You just have to include @ when letting Hamster know what you are doing and it will automatically create a category and file your task under it!
Letting a program know what you are doing every time you are about to switch an activity might seem like too much burden if you are not into time tracking. So Hamster provides you a leeway, allowing you to enter activities that you’ve done in the past. Why would you want to do that? You will realize in a minute when we move to the reports.
Click on the applet, expand “Today” and you will see what you have been up to on that day. Click on Show Overview and you will be greeted by pretty graphs and detailed statistics of what you have been doing this week, this month or this day. You can then click the “Generate Report” button and up pops your browser with a detailed report of your activities for the said period.
Overall, Hamster is an easy-to-use and intuitive time tracking application. Everything is just in place in the interface just as you might expect it to be. It is all the more useful if you are disciplined in its use or else, you can always go back in time and make entries (for a change). Did I mention the “Stop Tracking” button, just in case you feel the need!
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Do you use any time tracking applications? Which software or web applications do you prefer?