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Director of WordPress Platform Services at Alley Interactive. WordCamp Speaker. Core contributor.

Taking back Time Tracking

This weekend’s side project gets into one of the larger struggles I’ve been having over the last year. Tracking my time. Aside from actually doing work, tracking time spent on those tasks is just about the most important thing I need to be doing multiple times every single day. I don’t know why, but pushing a stupid button to start a timer has been insanely difficult. The end of the month when it’s time for finalizing time sheets is pretty consistently one of the most stressful points in the month. I find myself scrambling through chat histories, emails, commit logs trying to account for what I’ve done over the last 4 weeks.

The straight forward solution is to push the button on the time tracker every time I start or stop a task. It’s a habit that I haven’t built up satisfactorily to a point where it gets me through the month with all hours accounted for. This time last year we were using Redmine for tracking our projects, tickets and time. Saying that I hate Redmine is an understatement. I’m really not sure what Redmine is actually good at. While I can’t blame it entirely for my poor habits, it certainly didn’t help in establishing any good ones.

We switched to Harvest for time tracking earlier this year, it’s beautiful, simple and has apps and integrations for the use cases I commonly find myself in. Github, Jira, etc. While it’s made time tracking easier for me, the core problem is remembering to hit the start button.

IF_Recipes_-_IFTTTThis weekend I whipped up a script that’ll ping Harvest every 5 minutes and check if a timer is running. It keeps track of how many consecutive times a timer was not running when it was pinged, which allows different actions to be triggered. I’ve set it up to become more annoying the longer I’ve gone without a timer. At 5 minutes, I get a push notification. At 10 minutes, I receive a text message. At 15 minutes, I receive a phone call. I may set up some different reminders over time, such as desktop notifications.

Automations aren’t solutions to everything, but they’re helpful in establishing good habits. These reminders throughout the workday will help in tracking time closer to real time, resulting in less stress at the end of the day, week, or month when trying to account for where all my time went.

Want to use this script to help your time tracking? Check it out on Github

Creating a Productive Environment: Sleep

In the development community, talks about creating productive environments many times focus on workflows and development tools. Writing code is only part of the equation! Our ability to get in the right mindset and the efficiency at which we write code play a large part in delivering quality projects and solutions. Many factors play into this, from our sleep schedules, diets, activity levels, time scheduling and ability to prioritize, to the space we work in, our desk setups, and the resources we utilize. Throughout this series, we’ll touch on those aspects of creating a productive environment, starting with sleep, the foundation that will allow us to do everything else more effectively. Read More

Alleyversary: Year One at Alley Interactive

The alarms on my phone sounded, I set 11 every night. About 2 hours later, they continued. Upon finally waking, I groggily shuffled to my office, where my computer was dead. The night before, I placed my headphones down on the desk, which had disconnected the power cord from its home nestled against the side of my Macbook.

Plug in. Boot up. Log on. 9+ new Slack notifications. Read More

The WooThemes Acquisition through the Eyes of a Former Ninja

On Tuesday afternoon I was rushing out the door to meet with Vova Feldman, a WordPress developer and founder of Freemius. During LoopConf we exchanged a few tweets back and forth but didn’t end up getting to connect, so we figured out a time to meet up once we were both back in New York. I was running late and about to run out the door when a few tweets caught my eye, followed by messages in the Post Status Slack channel that WooCommerce had been acquired by Automattic.

WooCommerce had been acquired by Automattic?! A dozen questions raced through my mind as I raced out the door. What about the rest of WooThemes? What would happen to all of the ninjas? What about the rest of the products? Was only WooCommerce acquired, or was WooThemes in its entirety now part of A8C? The initial posts on the topic, as well as Matt’s own blog post stated ‘WooCommerce joins the Automattic team‘, which caused confusion for me since WooCommerce makes up the majority of WooThemes revenue. It would seem illogical for a company to get rid of its largest revenue generating product. I’m now underground in the subway with no internet and endless questions popping into existence. Read More

TomPress: A Youtube Channel

For the past few months, creating videos has been something that I’ve wanted to start doing. In that time I’ve seen a couple of people I really respect in the WordPress community that have actually been doing it rather than just thinking about it, Coen Jacobs and Tim Nash. They both have different styles of speaking, Coen presents more in a fireside chat style, whereas Tim is always full of energy and sometimes reminds me of Billy Mays. Both have accents that people in the states find sophisticated and enjoy listening to. I’m not sure if anyone actually likes hearing a New York accent, but we’ll give it a whirl. Read More

WorldPress: WordCamp Saratoga Unleashed

The first WordCamp Saratoga was this weekend and it was awesome. Everyone did a fantastic job organizing the event and I can’t wait to come back next year.

The name tags were very nicely done, and that is where this story begins. Aside from just having my name, it says “Say Hi”. I made a new buddy during the after party because of this, he didn’t attend the WordCamp, but he spent the rest of the night promoting it, and me I suppose. Read More

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Tom Harrigan

Director of WordPress Platform Services at Alley Interactive

Follow @TomHarrigan

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