Not sure where your time goes? Keep track of it. Hamster is a Linux application that helps you do just that. Computers help us get work done, but they can also be distracting. That’s why it’s important to keep track of when you’re actually working; time management saves you time. Beyond distractions, however, it’s a good idea to figure out which daily tasks are eating up your time. This can help you schedule, or help you bill accurately if you’re a freelancer.
Hamster is a piece of Linux software built from the ground up to make time tracking easy. Get into the habit of using it and you’ll get a very accurate view of which tasks are taking the most time. This can go a long way toward making you efficient.
Tracking Your Time With Hamster
Whenever you begin a task, quickly open Hamster and let the software know what you’re doing:
Add a name for the task, then add some tags. How you use the tags is up to you, but they can really help you figure out where your time is going later on. If you want to know how much time you spend on research compared to the time you spend actually writing, for example, tag tasks for your research and writing accordingly. This way you’ll know what you’re spending your time doing.
Tags are also a great way for freelancers to track their billable hours. Just tag tasks with a specific job or client and you’ll be tracking your hours for the job.
When you’ve completed a task, or switched to another one, let Hamster know. Time tracking only works if you track your time!
You can review the information at any time, by clicking summary:
As you can see, Hamster lets you know what you’ve been doing with your time. You can make changes, useful if you ever accidently leave Hamster tracking after you’ve completed a project. You can also review how much time your various “tags” are taking up in a given week or other period of time.
Do you want to show other people where your time is going? Hamster allows you to export tasks to HTML files you can share easily with others, including clients.
You can set Hamster to stop tracking you when your computer is off or sleeping:
If a lot of your work is away from the computer you’re going to want to turn this off. Other settings worth checking out include reminders and syncing with tasks list from Evolution and Getting Things Gnome, which keeps Linux user organized.
Using Workspaces To Track Time
If you’re anything like me, you use the various workspaces Linux offers for different things. One for email and web browsing; another for writing; another for social networks; the last for testing software.
You can set Hamster to automatically track how much time you’re spending on your various desktops. Assuming you use your desktops as consistently as I do, you can use this feature to track how much time you spend doing certain things automatically. This is a great way to track your time if you don’t want to manually enter information for each task.
How To Install Hamster
Installing Hamster is easy on most Linux distributions; just look for “hamster” in your package manager. Ubuntu users can simply click here to install Hamster.
If you can’t find Hamster in your repositories you may need to compile the code yourself. Find more about that here, but don’t expect it to be simple.
Install The Hamster Indicator Applet
Users of Gnome 2 can add a Hamster applet to a Gnome panel. Users of Ubuntu 11.04 and later don’t have this option, but don’t worry: there is a handy indicator applet for Hamster:
Find out how to install the Hamster indicator for Unity at Webupd8; their tutorial includes installation instructions and various tweaks for the applet.
Hamster is a great time tracking device. As someone who jumps between multiple operating systems a lot I wish it was cross platform, but for those who use Linux all the time there isn’t a better way to track time than Hamster.
I’ve been wrong before. Do you know a better tool for the job than Hamster? Fill us in. Also feel free to let us know how Hamster helps you; we’d love to hear.
Image Credit : Doenertier82
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