Our editor Rupert was tasked with sorting out our time tracking here at LCB to help us quote more accurately and hold ourselves to deadlines better, and he wrote us all such a useful guide to the system we chose (the excellent Toggl) that we thought we might as well share it with the world! So without further ado, here's:
How to use Toggl
by Rupert Parry
Toggl allows us to track our time in a really simple, easy way. It really only has one function, and that’s time tracking, with added reporting so we can break our time down into jobs and see how much we’re working on each project. It’s also great at nagging you to track your time if you always forget (that’s me).
2. Set Up
Whoever sets up the first account can send you/will have sent you via email an invite link to join “[Your Business] Workspace”. Click this link to setup your account, and then you’ll share a workspace. This basically just means you can log time on the same projects together.
You can use Toggl through its web app at this link, but if you want to be a fancy-pants pro power user (who doesn’t?), then I highly recommend you download the desktop app and Chrome extension (I’ll get to those later).
In fact just download those anyway, it makes life a lot easier.
3. Tracking Time
3.1 Toggle app for Mac
Once you install the Mac app you will see the Toggl menubar item.
Hit the Toggl icon and click “New”.
Bingo bango, you are now tracking time. You’ll notice that the Toggl window pops up with a time entry that just says “no description”. You can click the entry (just hit the words “no description” at the top) and you’ll get a pop-up where you can add details of what you’re doing. Do this every time you track time so you can know what you were working on.
You can even edit the start and end time of time entries here, so you can create entries that happened in the past if you forgot to track time.
You’ll notice that all the previous time entries in this window have a little play button next to them. This is usually a quicker way to track time – just hit a play button and it will start tracking for that project, and you don’t have to enter anything else.
If the window disappears and you need it back, hit the Toggl icon in the dock, or hit the menubar icon and click “Show”.
3.2 Toggl Chrome extension
The Toggl chrome extension puts little “Start timer” icons everywhere it thinks you might be working on something on the web. It supports Asana, Gmail, Google Drive, and a bajillion other services.
For example, the Asana integration is really useful for us. Whenever you click a task, you’ll see a “Start timer” icon. Hit that to start tracking time, and you can enter the project and client right there in your browser. This will automatically sync everywhere.
3.3 The web app
The web app works just like the desktop app, it’s very straightforward.
4. Adding Projects & Clients
In Toggl you can just track random time with no project or client, but I recommend we always use a client & project as then we can break things down when looking at our time data. Adding more is easy.
On the left side of the Toggl.com dashboard, there’s a link for “Projects” & “Clients”. Hit one of those links, and then click the big green “Add Project/Client” button at the top. Fill in the deets and your done. You can now reference those clients when tracking time.
5. Tweaking the Toggl App
When you download & install the Toggl app, there are a few tweaks you should turn on to make the app as naggy & annoying as possible. After dragging the app to your Applications folder and double-clicking it, you’ll see the Toggl logo in your menubar.
Click that guy and hit “Preferences”.
In the General tab...
- If you want, in the first section, you can record keyboard shortcuts for showing/hiding the app, and continuing/stopping the timer
- Make sure “Idle detection” is ticked
- If you want the app to let you know to take regular breaks, tick “Pomodoro timer”, which will alert you every 25 minutes (or whatever you type in that box)
- Tick “Record timeline”, which keeps track of the apps you have open in case you forget to track time and need to go back
- Tick “Show timer on menu bar” and “Show project on menu bar”
In the Autotracker tab, you can set up the autotracker, which will alert you to track time whenever you’re in a window with text that matches the term you type in. So for example, if you type in “after effects” in the first box, then select a project from the drop down, and click add, you will get an alert from Toggl whenever you open After Effects to track time for this project. Really useful.
Finally, in the Reminder tab, I have it set up to remind me to track time every 10 minutes. This just means that if you’re idle for 10 minutes, it will suggest that you are probably meant to be tracking time (you’ll get an alert popping up on screen).
6. The Timeline
Once you’ve enabled the Timeline option (see section 5), Toggl becomes your own personal NSA! It will track all the apps you use & what documents you had open. But don’t worry – only you can see this, so your boss will never know that you spend all day browsing memes while secretly hiring overseas workers a fraction of your wage to do all your work for you.
To see your Timeline, hit the dropdown on the top right of the Toggl web app, and select “Timeline”.
You should see a sort of bar chart showing your activity, and below that coloured blocks which correspond to time you’ve actually tracked. Hover over any bar, and it will show you what documents/video files/skype sessions with sweatshop bosses you had open. You can also hover over the blocks below that to see what time you said you tracked.
This means that if there is a huge gap, and you forgot what you were doing on a specific day, you can always go back and fill in the blanks by starting a new time entry and editing the date and time.
7. The End
You are now a pro time tracker.