An innocuous $5 app on the Mac App Store has helped transform my productivity, and made billing for tasks a whole lot easier. It seems like such a simple thing, but there’s an elegance to its simplicity. TicToc from Overcommitted is a simple, lightweight time tracking program that makes it easy to record how long your tasks are taking you.
After installation TicToc will start with your system, and sits in your status bar, operating as a drop-down menu. Your active or most recent task will appear in the status bar; a green light means you’re on the clock, and a grey light means you’re not. The running total of the amount of time you’ve spent on that project is listed to the right.
Click on the name of the project and TicToc drops down to reveal your list of other tasks. Click on the arrow to the right and you’ll get a contextual menu with TicToc links and an option to show or quit the program.
Adding a task is easy; there’s a plus button in the top right-hand corner of the TicToc window that will add an “Untitled Task”. Double clicking on your new task will let you rename it, and a right click will reveal “Start Timer”. If you neglect to start a task’s timer when you start working you can always backdate the timer to compensate, something you may find yourself doing for the first few days as you get used to having this tool accessible.
TicToc is distraction aware; when you leave your computer unattended without interaction for over five minutes it will bring up a prompt that lets you carry on timing, or backdate your task to the point where you stopped using the computer. I’ve been called away from my desk once or twice, and this feature has allowed me to keep my recorded time relatively close to the time actually spent working.
For those who work on billable projects TicToc is a great tool. You can export your recorded time as XML or CSV files, making it simple to apply those numbers to invoices. Having a solid picture of how long you have actually worked on something allows for more confidence and accuracy in billing, something I’ve greatly enjoyed.
TicToc is $4.99 on the Mac App Store, and it’s a very small, fast download. If you find yourself craving more structure to the way you work, you might find that the constant reminder of TicToc helps you get things done.