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5 Reasons Why Time Tracking is Hard

Thomas FuchsThomas Fuchs

The old saying goes, “Time Tracking ain’t easy”. All you want is accurate and on-time data so you can plan your resources, bill your customers and find those pesky projects that just take longer than they should. Here’s the top five reasons why Time Tracking is so hard (and how we make it easier in Freckle!):

You can’t just automate it

Sure, there’s apps that track which other apps you have open on your computer, and maybe even phone calls—but there’s a lot of work that’s done that happens afk (away from keyboard). Meetings, conversations at the water cooler, or simply having a great idea in the shower. How do you track that? The best way to track time is to manually do it—humans know better than machines what they’re working on. But it has to be easy to do, if it becomes a chore, you end up with bad data.

Dependency hell

Who wants to configure 7 things after doing a 3 minute phone call? That’s right, no one. When your software requires that you create a client, create a project, create a sub-project and create tasks before you can even track your time you’re bound to just not do it. In Freckle you can log time without any upfront configuration.

“I’ll do it later”

We found that many people log their time perhaps once a week on Friday afternoon, when they’re with one foot out of the office already. Or worse, just quickly log the time for last week on Monday morning. Time Tracking software should be aware how actual human beings work. And help you achieve better quality by providing ways to make time tracking easier. In Freckle, we have a handy Timer/Stopwatch app that you can install and it’s just a keyboard shortcut away. And we send daily or weekly reminders on what time you’ve logged and where. One glance on the Freckle dashboard (that loads in a fraction of a second in your browser!) and you know where you might have missed to log time.

Work just doesn’t stop at the office door

Even if you’re disciplined about separating work and private life, we’re all just human beings. Have an idea during your morning shower? Discovered the perfect solution for your client during a weekend stroll? Or you have to switch between projects and need time to get into each project without being productive right away (ask any programmer!). Your software should know that you’re human. For this reason, in many industries, traditionally time is rounded up to, e.g. quarter hours for billing. This gives a more realistic picture of how much time you actually spend. (Of course, Freckle knows about this and lets you set this to what works best for you!)

Business software is terrible

Most business software is like a visit to the DMV. Everything is grey and beige, you need to fill out confusing forms and you have to wait forever for anything. There’s actually a lot of research on human-computer interactions that, not surprisingly, found that friendly applications that treat the user well (for example with forms that are less intimidating, fast load times, etc.) yield better data quality. That’s simply because people don’t feel awful using the apps. Freckle’s foremost design goal is to be cheerful. Software doesn’t have to hurt.

 

Thomas’ work on Prototype.js, Zepto.js and Micro.js has made him a certified JavaScript Guru. Before founding Freckle, Thomas was consulting with some of the world’s best known companies on their craziest interactive JavaScript needs. A Ruby on Rails core alumni, he is passionate about creating the best user interface experience possible and penned the Scriptaculous JavaScript UI library to share the love, counting sites like Apple.com and Nasa.gov among its users. Thomas’ master plan: work toward a more delicious web using open source goodness.