How-to: Track Time, Without Wasting Your Time

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Applies to: Tasktop Dev Pro, Tasktop Dev Pro for Eclipse
Level: Intermediate
Summary: Learn how to automatically track and submit time spent working on tasks, bugs, and issues, reducing the pain of manual time tracking

For many developers, tracking time is an annoying but necessary part of their everyday life. Depending on the organization developers may be required to:

  • Report the time spent on a particular project or for a particular client for the past month
  • Report the actual time that it took to finish each task in the last iteration to refine Scrum estimations
  • Report the average burn rate on a given contract for the past 6 months

Fortunately, Tasktop Dev makes gathering and reporting this information painless. Tasktop Dev not only tracks the time that you spend on each task (see Privacy below) it allows users to organize, adjust, and report this information to your team’s issue tracking system without leaving Tasktop or a Tasktop-enabled Eclipse IDE.

Submitting Time

Privacy Tasktop Dev collects and stores time tracking information automatically for the sole benefit of the user. This information is stored locally and is never shared unless the user explicitly requests it to be uploaded to the server. Before uploading, users are given the opportunity to review and adjust as needed to reflect the desired tasks and times to be reported.


Managing Your Time with Tasktop  Dev

If you are already using Tasktop Dev to organize your work then it is easy to set up Tasktop to manage your time as well. In fact, Tasktop is already tracking your time for your personal records and Tasktop’s Time Reporting Feature allows you to view and manage this information. To begin reporting your time with Tasktop you’ll first need to create a time report. On the time tracking dashboard (Tasktop Home -> Track Time) select “Create Report” and create a name for the report.

Time Report

One Week with Task Tooltip

This report offers you detailed information about how you’ve spent your time in the task table as well as a graphical summary of your time data. The bar graphs at the top left show a breakdown of how you spent your time each day during the time period and the pie charts specify the time worked as a percentage, broken down into individual tasks and working sets. Take a minute to review how you’ve spent each day in the last week by hovering over individual cells in the bar graphs (as shown below). For a more detailed view of a given day select the “View by Day” button in the upper-right of the table section and the table will be reorganized to show the tasks worked on each day.

Once you have created a new report you’ll need to determine the scope of the report, in terms of time period and relevant tasks. For many users, these two guidelines will help them choose the best scope:

  Use the same time period that your organization uses for time reporting – Using this practice you will only have to create a single report during each time period (usually weekly or monthly). This makes it easy to track your progress throughout the time period which is useful for monitoring the time you spend on different projects.
  Focus each time report on a particular project or client – When creating a time report all tasks that were worked on during the time period are added to your report. Often, a user has projects or clients for which time must be reported separately. In these cases users should create a separate report for each major project or client. This can be done by specifying which queries, and thus tasks, are included in each report.

Because Tasktop Dev automatically tracks your time and fills out your time report the only step that is left is to review this information. Since personal time information is private Tasktop Dev gives you complete control over this information, including the ability to adjust automatically recorded times. When reviewing the report you can adjust it by:

  • Adding/Removing tasks
  • Adding/Removing offline activities
  • Adjusting the time for existing tasks/activities

Finally, upon reviewing your time report you can submit it by pressing “Submit Time”. This will upload the times to your issue tracker for each task. A preview, as shown at the beginning of this post, will show exactly which tasks are being updated. We recommend reviewing and submitting your time approximately each week, regardless of the time period of the report. This time period offers most people the best tradeoff between the overhead of opening the report and updating it and the potential of forgetting past offline activities, such as meetings, that they might need to add to the report. While we recommend a week, users can update and upload the reporter as many times as necessary, as only the updated data will be uploaded to the server.