Entry-O-Matic: Automatically Create Time Entries for App Usage
Timing supports two notions of recorded time:
- App Usage, which is recorded automatically and describes which apps, documents and websites you have been used.
- Time Entries, which are created manually. They cover arbitrary blocks of time and can include a description and notes.
This makes time entries very flexible. For example, we recommend creating time entries whenever you need to bill your time, to ensure that only time you have reviewed manually gets billed. This helps you retain full control over the time-tracking and billing process.
However, the manual nature of creating time entries also makes creating them more time-consuming. To speed this up, Timing already offers various automation features for creating time entries, such as the timeline and timers.
Often, you'll want to create time entries that "cover" the time you spent working on your Mac. You can quickly accomplish this using the Entry-O-Matic. The Entry-O-Matic takes your existing app usage and automatically creates time entries to cover them. Have a look at the following video for a quick demonstration:
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This feature is useful in a variety of situations:
When you need to bill a client, chances are that the client is not interested in seeing
hundreds of small app usage bits. Instead, they want to see larger blocks of time that you worked for them, which
can be generated using the Entry-O-Matic.
- When you only have app usage to base your billing on, it can often happen that small bits of time here and there didn't get attributed to the correct project. The Entry-O-Matic's "maximum gap length" setting can help you fill those gaps, making sure that no small 30-second bit accidentally stays unbilled.
- Likewise, you might want very short snippets of work on a particular project to not get billed. The "minimum time entry duration" setting can help you make sure that no time entries are created for those.
In general, whenever you want to "annotate" some app usage (e.g. the time spent on a particular
website) with a description of what you did during that time, the Entry-O-Matic can help you quickly create time
entries to cover those times.
- For example, Timing's web app only shows aggregate app usage, without details on which apps, documents and websites were used. With the Entry-O-Matic, you can quickly provide additional detail that also shows up in the web app.
- Go to the "Review" screen.
- Select the project you would like to generate time entries for.
- Click the "Create Time Entries" button on the right of the activity list.
If that button is not present, you can also find a "Entry-O-Matic" item in the "Edit" menu.
- Enter your desired time entry details and Entry-O-Matic options (see below).
- Preview the effects via the timeline (if shown) and the descriptions in the "Entry-O-Matic" dialog.
- Press "Create Time Entries". If you need to undo your change, you can always do so by pressing ⌘-Z.
You can also create time entries for only a subset of your activities by selecting the corresponding entries in the activity list, then right-clicking them and pressing "Create Time Entries".
The following configuration options are available:
- Minimum time entry duration: Instructs Entry-O-Matic to only create time entries that are longer than a certain period, discarding too short ones.
This avoids cluttering your timesheets.
- Maximum gap length: Most work naturally contains many short breaks. To create longer time entries that cover such breaks, increase this value.
- Overwrite existing time entries: If you already have existing time entries, you can have Entry-O-Matic overwrite and replace them, or only cover time periods that do not yet contain a time entry.
If you are unsure about what values to use for the Entry-O-Matic, the following might be good options for starting out:
Minimum time entry duration: 5 Minutes
Maximum gap length: 1 Minute
These settings are a good general-purpose starting point. The minimum time entry duration helps avoid very many short time entries while the gap length of 1 minute already serves to fill some quick research breaks:
Filling larger gaps.
Minimum time entry duration: 5 Minutes
Maximum gap length: 5 Minutes
Warning: make sure to select a single project in the sidebar before using these setting! Otherwise, you might just end up with one large time entry covering virtually your whole day.
If you find yourself with a lot of unassigned time in between your activities for a particular project, try this setting. It will automatically fill such larger gaps in between project time for you:
If you would just like to convert app usage to time entries as accurately as possible.
Minimum time entry duration: 1 Minute
Maximum gap length: 5 Seconds (consider choosing a higher value if too much time would be ignored due to duration concerns)
Warning: these settings can result in the creation of a lot of time entries!
In that case, you'll want to choose both values as low as possible to both avoid dropping short time entries, but also not "invent" too much time by filling large gaps: