Back in November, I decided I wanted to track the time I spent on various genealogy projects. One reason for this was to be able to better plan my monthly to-do lists (I have a tendency to overbook myself). I knew I wanted a web-based system (preferably one that was free). There are several available, but Toggl appealed to me as soon as I saw it, so I decided to give it a test run. I’ve been using Toggl for three months now and I don’t know how I lived without it. (Note that this is toggl – no e.)
Everything about Toggl is so easy and intuitive. To get started, you can either sign up by entering your email address and a password or simply log in with your Google account. It doesn’t get any easier than that!
To start tracking your time, just type in what you are working on and click start. It’s automatically date- and time-stamped.
When you stop working, click stop and you are left with an entry that shows exactly how much time you spent, down to the minute. When you get ready to work on that task again, just click continue. You never have to type anything again on the same task, which is one of my favorite features. There are some things that I do every week, so I scroll back to the last time I worked on the task and click continue.
Toggl totals up your work for the day and you can see as many days on the home page as you like. You can add projects to group various tasks together and add tags as well. The clip below shows my total hours spent yesterday. The projects are in black in the middle of the screen, tasks are to the left, and the yellow blocks to the far left are tags (a post about how I use tags is forthcoming). Then to the right of the project, you can see how much time I spent on the task and when.
Reports are available for any time period and can be filtered by project and/or tag. This shows the work on my Forrester Research project last week.
All of this and more is available in the free version of Toggl. The ability to track clients requires an upgrade to a paid plan (which I would totally do if I were doing client work). The paid version adds some other features as well, but I find the free version has everything I need and want.
I really love this program. It took a little time to get into the habit of using it, but now I open Toggl first when I get ready to work on genealogy, so it’s always there on my desktop. The good news is that if you forget to click start or stop, you just go back and edit the time entry. You can also add entries for work that is done away from a web connection (such as at a cemetery or courthouse). Android and iPhone users can use Toggl on their phones, but there is not a Blackberry version available, so I make a note of my time and enter it when I get back to a computer.
If you are interested in a time-tracking tool, give Toggl a shot and let me know what you think.