WorkLog is among several mobile time-logging applications, but its one of the few that offers a free version that includes all the features of the paid version, except that users are limited to storing three days of data.
So if you need a mobile application to occasionally log and calculate total work hours, WorkLog might a useful option. For more professional needs however, I would suggest an advanced desktop version of a timelog and invoice producing application.
The developers of WorkLog maintain that one of the benefits of their application is that it’s easy to use. I would agree, but only up to a point. If you simply wanted it to track time, WorkLog is better than using the default timer on your iPhone or iPod touch [iTunes Store link]. Like the built-in timer, WorkLog tracks time in the background…well sort of. It’s not actually running when you close it, but when you re-open it, it calculates the time between when you closed and re-opened the app. However, WorkLog, unlike the default timer on your mobile device, allows you to save and export your logged data.
WorkLog is pretty simple to use if you just want to log time. But if you want to get more detailed reporting to calculate work hours completed, that’s where WorkLog gets a little complicated. I don’t think its interface is as intuitive as it could be. In my brief use of the program, I would suggest first looking at the preferences settings for the app, which are located in the Settings application of your iPhone or iPod touch. (Note: many of the settings for various iPhone/iPod touch applications are in the Settings application.) There are a few settings that you might want to carefully consider.
For instance, do you want to round off the time to the nearest 1, 5, 10, 15, 30 or 60 minutes? You will also want to select whether or not you want to round up or down when recording time. So if you stop work at 2:10pm, will it be logged as say 2.15pm, 2.05pm, or 2.00pm?
Next, you want to consider what default categories you want to use when logging time. Do you want to start with the name of a Client, or Categories (e.g. meetings, consultations, travel) or Projects (e.g. research, writing, editing)? Each of these categories can contain sub-categories, but it seems better to set a default category how you will use the application most. If for example you mainly work for one client at a time, then your settings might start with Projects that you do for that client. If you work with various clients on a daily or weekly basis, then you might to start with Clients, and break it down into sub-categories of each different client’s name.
You will also want to include a default email address in settings for where your log reports will be sent. You can’t review reports generated within the application, so having a default email address might be useful, unless you plan to email reports directly to clients instead.
Creating Custom Fields
It’s in creating sub-categories in WorkLog that the interface seems confusing. To divide up logged times, you will need to assign logs to a category and custom fields. Categories can include four different custom fields: List type fields for assigning say different tasks you perform, e.g. meetings, research, writing; Numerical fields for tracking say miles driven, quantities produced; Currency fields for tracking say related expenses for a job; and Yes/No fields for say certain tasks completed.
These custom fields, of course, are most useful if you need detailed reporting for your clients. But, again, I have to admit, I find using the fields the most confusing aspect of WorkLog. It’s better to keep your categories and fields very simple for a mobile app like this.
If you hold down the Start button for a few seconds, it will bring up the last category options and settings you used, which makes for a quicker way to add a category and related fields.
It’s pretty straight forward to click the Start time button, presented when opening WorkLog. However, if say you start work in the morning for one client, and perform jobs and tasks for a different client in the afternoon, then you will need to click the New button to record that new job. You click to the second panel of the app to see and access the different log times for each individual day.
Editing & Exporting
You can also of course edit logs and manually adjust times and categories, which is indicated by the Edit button in the top-right of the program. This is important because there will be times when you forget to return to the application and click stop. It would be helpful if the app’s icon could indicate that log is still tracking time or has not been stopped. If the app is say on the home page of your iPhone, you might be more likely to reminder to reopen and stop the tracking.
There’s a couple of ways you can export data from the application, either through email or transferring reports via your computer using WiFi. Clicking the Reports tab, you can generate reports based on periods of days, weeks, or months. After clicking the Export button, you switch over and click the Files icon where you will find your list of reports that can either be emailed or viewed in a browser using the specified URL provided on the Files page.
No Payment Calculations
WorkLog doesn’t calculate earnings, it will only calculate work hours logged. As the saying goes, time is money, so it would be nice to have this feature included in the application. But like I said at the outset, WorkLog is a free download and may well be useful for users with occasional time keeping needs. A paid version of this or another application would be better for more heavy duty requirements.
What time logging or invoice application do you use? Let us know what features you look for in an application like this.