Thursday, 24 January 2008

How to find out where the time goes

jWorkSheet is one of the secret tools that form part of my productivity armoury.
What does it do? Why do I use it?....

Well, I work across multiple projects and if I like to be able to see which projects are taking most of my time. If I don't track my time I get to the end of the day and go "so what did I do all day?".
If you face a similar issue then...jWorkSheet might help you.
jWorkSheet has gives me the ability to report on where I have been spending my time. When I need to do that formally, or informally.
I needed a (Project -> Task -> event) model where I could track work-done-time spent on Tasks across disparate days or weeks I don't often get to work on a single task for a number of days (or hours) straight.
I was originally using a spreadsheet that I wrote, because I would periodically browse the web but never found anything that worked the way that I did.
But jWorkSheet uses this exact model!
You setup the projects and tasks on one tab, then in another tab you track your day.
I use the default reports and haven't tried customising them. The reports are all written in XSL so it should be a simple matter to write my own when I need to.
Now for a lot of people the notion of tracking their time on an event by event basis is 'tooooo much work'. But I find it a useful practice to log what I do.
I carry this practice through to my testing, where I log the decisions I make, the thoughts that I have, the things that I do. When I do this incrementally across the day, as it happens, it really isn't too much work, it is simply a natural part of each task. When I switch task - I spend 5 seconds making a note of it.
The end result of all these 5 seconds? A feeling of control and the ability to see where my time goes so no more uncertainty. And with that comes the ability to use this information to plan more effectively, to make decisions about priority and optimisation more effectively.
If you don't track your time during the day then I'd suggest as an experiment to you that you try it. And if you already do it, then see if jWorkSheet works for you.
I subscribe to the freshmeat entry to receive update notifications.
And so if you every find you're solidly working but end up unhalfbricking then you have no need to ask yourself "who knows where the time goes?", instead you can relax with this...
Youtube Video


  1. [...] involves tracking how you currently spend your time - I do find this a useful technique to apply so if you haven’t tried to track your own time then Fergus’ book may provide [...]

  2. [...] So I started to use the JWorksheet tool. ( review) [...]