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.
This 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.