How much technology do we need to keep track of what we do?

For the past week I have been using a software timer product to keep track of what I spend my time on when I am working.

For the most part, it has been a big improvement over anything I have ever used before.

I can switch from task to task with very little overhead and the cumulative time spent on any task is instantly visible. At any moment, I can see what my billable hours are and can see whether I am spending enough time on promotional activities.

The product I am currently using, the Secs timer by Sinner Computing, although not perfect, has enabled me to improve my efficiency without costing me more than a few minutes to set it up and use it each day. I purchased a license for it after three days of use because it actually gets the job done. Now, I want something better.

In the process of using this software, I have become an experienced user with a
well-defined need and I am really aware of the shortcomings of existing
offerings. I can now write out a list of the essential functions this product should have. I know
that I am willing to pay at least $25 for a product that meets my
needs and what is more important, I am ready to recommend any product that
actually does the job.

Thanks to my readers, I have been investigating other software products which claim to provide similar solutions. All of these recommended products were lacking one or more important characteristics.

UPDATE: I now have a better solution that incorporates what I describe in this article.

I am not looking for complexity. I am looking for flexibility and simplicity. Here is a list of the must-have features I’m looking for:

– A separate counter can be set up for each task being monitored with a clearly visible  task name.
– Counters will be counting up.
– Counters must have scalable display sizes and colors visible at 6 ft if required.
– Tasks can be reset, started, and stopped with one click.
– More than one task will be active at any time.
– Switching from one active task to another should take only one click.
– Task status of all counters can be captured and saved with a few keystrokes.
– The application should save and remember the last settings of every counter on shutdown.
– The application should be small and stable and no require an Internet connection
– It should not require external documentation.
– A simple readme file should contain all instructions needed to operate the software.

If you have encountered any timer applications which meet these criteria, please let me know where I can find them.

Here is my evaluation of other product offerings so far:

SlimTimer is closest to what I’m looking for, but it’s web based. I need a desktop app.

Egg by Sinner Computing – not flexible enough – no visible task name capability

TimeSprite by timesprite.com – Limited functions – non-intuitive user interface – tracks only Windows apps.

Tracker by Allnetic.com – small and confusing display – app was unstable and crashed after several hours of use.

TimeSnapper – captures and stores screenshots – not useful for cognitive activity.

If anyone has any suggestions, please comment. Thanks!

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