Stopwatch, timers and productivity apps

I recently compiled a .exe Time Capture application based on Joy’s AHK (AutoHotKey) App. As I was reflecting on how I used this app, in combination with Hellbent’s Stopwatch and started to consider combining a timer/stopwatch into the program.

So I started looking in AHK forum for other Stopwatch scripts and also I’ve just come across the Freeware Files.com website and have been looking at some of the apps on there too.

Hellbent’s timer is good, but you need to right click on it to minimise and a small box floats that you can right click on and maximise it.

Only Stopwatch (from Freeware Files.com) has a couple of nice features, for Stopwatch you can set a Start amount prior to running the timer. This is a handy tool as it allows you to add some time if you forgot to start it when you began a task, at the moment I make a note with pen & paper and then add it at the end. Another thing is hotkeys for Start, Stop, Maximise/Minimise & Pause. The HelLbent one might be able to be adjusted to add hotkeys for part of the functions.

Watch Me (from Freeware Files.com) has multiple timers, and you can add counters, and you can add more of each (or delete some). This allows for one timer, so if you switch tasks the other timer pauses. It has a notepad to add notes to. Its feature rich and I’ve only glanced at it, but I think I’ll need to give this one a spin to see if its better than Hellbent’s one. I lie the idea of multiple timers, you can have several running at the same time, but I quite like the single timer running. The notepad is good, but I think I like the push to a file.

Freelance Timer (from Freeware Files.com) Has a simple interface, allows you to add time, have multiple projects, when you choose Open Project it switches to new project and pauses the other. It has total time for week too, which I haven’t tested, but shows accumulated hours. The storing of the file is to a .fprj file that is a little hard to figure but I suppose you could adjust the raw data. See 2nsd image. It doesn’t take a note though. Straightforward, logs directly to a file, one for each project, and switching projects records to next job. A good way of keeping all project times separately although maybe a nuisance if you are trying to look at overall productivity over all projects together.

Windows Tangler (from Freeware Files.com) groups program types together , then you can stop them operating for a specific time, like browsers, so you concentrate on what task you are doing without fiddling and browsers won’t be usable. Currently not working after I loaded it up.

This is Timer Tab a useful browser Stopwatch, but a bit limited. You can open multiple ones and do countdowns on them as well. I like the idea of this method. It would be good if you could write to a file. Also in the Tab to be able to name the project, just in case you have multiple activities- Would be good in PWA format as you could store info offline and upload later.

Other Timekeeping Apps that you can have on your PC

I started looking into Free Timekeeping apps and came across this article “Best free Time Tracking software on Windows for Freelancers” and 2 of them I found interesting , ManicTime and GrindStone 4. I found ManicTime a bit complicated and not intuitive on playing with it, whereas I liked the complexity and intuitiveness of GridStone. It’s a nice app and sits on your screen so that you are aware its active. Also if you walk away from your PC then it registers that and asks you what you want to do with that time, book it to a project or ignore it.

This is quite a sophisticated program that you can use for free, I did find the little notifications popping up about it annoying and would most probably purchase a copy if I was really keen on capturing time effectively, as it allows you add/adjust your hours while still being automatic when you are on or away from your PC.

The above 2 programs I think have a database at their back end, but that means that the programs are compiled so you can’t tweak them for your own preferences although they do have a few personalisation tools

End comment

Working at home

After playing with lots of time capture tools I’m finding that the Time Capture application based on Joy’s AHK (AutoHotKey) App works for me. I found that Alt + 4 also opens up the file so if you want to quickly edit your time its easy to do. You don’t need to mess with clocking time but make a stab at the time and adjust it if you need to.

I’m glad I have the file & a backup to protect the data. This is a simple tool for using on PC when working on a project. Its not flexible for if you are out & about as it only works in windows (AHK) but it meets my needs.

For expenses I’d still use the basic GlideApp that I use for capturing all my expenditure to a Google Spreadsheet.

Working at home & away

As I’m only doing a bit of work at home, the above tools are fit for purpose, but if I was out & about on lots of projects and needed to be more accurate with projects and work you would need an on-line tool to meet your needs and would most probably have to pay for the service. There are lots out there, but all a bit complex.

I’ll stick with simple (and remain poor).