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Time tracking is an area where admins (and others) often have strong feelings – perhaps because one has been required to keep track of time for multiple different ways, having to enter similar data every day or every week – or perhaps because the time tracking was so detailed that one could easily spend more time tracking time than doing anything worthwhile. However, when we are recording time just for ourselves – perhaps we can resolve all of these problems ahead of time and use time tracking to its fullest potential.

Tracking your time can be of benefit, especially if you are self-employed. Even if you are not “self-employed”, to some extent we all are self-employed: you provide a service to your employer and your continued employment hinges on the value you bring to the employer. Even if you are looking for work: your job is to provide quality job searching prospects to yourself. Tracking your time can show you where the time went – and how much of it was really useful. If you are focusing on one area and the more important projects are sliding behind, then tracking will show this.

Remember: this tracking is only for you; so no fudging and no fear of what others will think – be honest in your tracking.

Tracking time does not have to be a minute by minute process (albeit some employers may make you do this, at least down to the five minute level). Tracking may be best done on a 15 minute basis; nor do you have to give up if you forget to record one start time – most applications should allow you to track your time retroactively (don’t abuse this capability!).

Time-tracking applications is one of those areas where there are a hundred different applications with different features. For whatever reason, no open source variant is a hands-down winner in this area; if you investigate you will find numerous versions of “time tracking” software, some of which are quite simple and some of which are very complex and all-encompassing.

For the purpose I am describing, a simple system is best. I recommend for Linux one of KTimer (included with KDE), GnoTime, or Project Hamster (now included with Gnome). For Windows, there is Baralga – which is also platform independent as it is Java-based. All of these are perfect for personal time tracking.

Many time tracking applications are designed for massive projects, for teams, or to provide everything to everybody. Programs such as those mentioned will provide the basic time tracking without all of the other things that get in the way – permitting you to boost your productivity every day.

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