Timing Quick Start: 10 Easy Steps for Time Tracking Success
Timing is one of the most powerful time-tracking apps available for Mac. But that doesn't mean it has to be complicated – follow the steps below and you'll be tracking your time like a pro in just a few minutes!
Here at Timing, we are all about saving you time. Hence, we'll keep this short, with a few optional avenues to dive deep in case you want to learn more.
Table of Contents
Step 1: Create A Project
Timing can track how you spend time on your Mac even without you setting up any projects. But let's be honest, your time-tracking data will be much more useful if we apply a bit of categorization to it.
To achieve that, let's launch Timing, then create a project by clicking the '+' button in the sidebar's project list:
Don't worry about all the fields in the dialog that pops up; we'll get to those later. Just enter a title and press "Create Project".
In case you do already want to learn more about all the cool things you can do with projects, check out this article from our knowledge base:
Step 2: Assign Time to Your Project
Great! Now that we have created our first project, it is time to assign some activities to it. To achieve that, please click "Review" in the sidebar. You'll see a new screen with four different cards, grouping your time according to different criteria:
- Websites. This card contains the domains of all the websites you visited.
Helpful when you use a particular website for a specific project.
- Applications. Lists how much time you spent in each of your apps.
- Paths. From all the paths it tracks, Timing tries to extract the folder they are in.
Often, specific folders are related to distinct projects, and if you drag the whole folder from this card onto a project, all the files inside that folder will be assigned as well.
Note that this can contain any kind of folders – those for files but also, say, mailboxes.
- Keywords. Timing automatically extracts common words from the window titles and paths it tracks.
This is useful if the things you worked on for a particular project contain common words (e.g. the project's name).
Now, go ahead and drag an item from one of the activity lists onto a project:
Notice how the duration "pills" in the sidebar change to reflect these times being part of a different project now.
Here's a bonus tip: when you keep the ⌥ key pressed while dragging an activity, Timing will create a rule that automatically assigns all future activities of this kind to that project.
Step 3: Create Rules
We already discussed how you can assign time via drag-and-drop. But dragging the same kinds of activities onto the same projects over and over again gets old very quickly.
As a solution, we briefly touched on Timing's concept of rules already, but rules are so important that they deserve another mention: Setting up just a few rules can easily reduce the amount of manual categorization needed by 80-90%.
When you keep the ⌥ key pressed while dragging an activity onto a project, Timing will automatically assign all future activities of this kind to that project as well.
You can compose even more powerful rules manually using Timing's rule editor; to learn more about that, please have a look at our documentation:
Step 4: Create Tasks
But not all of your work happens in front of your Mac. That's why Timing also supports manual time entries, called tasks.
To create your first task, go to the "Review" screen. You'll see several colored blocks with '+' signs in the timeline; these are Timing's task suggestions for blocks of time that belong together.
Click one of these blocks, then enter a description of what you did and press "Add Task":
Over time, Timing will learn which tasks you use frequently and start suggesting them again.
And because tasks are so important, Timing offers several more methods of creating them. This lets you pick the most convenient approach for any given situation:
Step 5: Start a Timer
When you already know what you are going to work on next, it makes sense to commit to this task by starting a timer for it. This helps put your brain into "focus mode", helping you concentrate on the task at hand – and nothing else.
To do so, click the Timing tracker app sitting in your Mac's status bar and hit "Start Task…":
When you start a timer this way, Timing will ask you for a few details, then assign all subsequent activities to this task until you stop it. Timing will also confirm whether you are still working on that task once the estimated duration has elapsed.
To save time, you can also start a new task at any time by pressing the ⌃⌥⌘T shortcut.
In addition, the tracker app's menu also gives you the option to quickly resume your most recent tasks without having to enter anything – just one click, and you are good to go!
Step 6: Connect Your Calendar
Timing can show your calendar entries right on the timeline and create tasks for them.
This helps you ensure that each and every meeting is accounted for and billed.
To set up the calendar integration, click this link, then grant the required permissions and select which calendars to use.
Once that's done, your calendar events will start showing up on the timeline:
Note that Timing can only show events that are also visible in your Mac's Calendar.app. If you want to connect your Google Calendar or want to learn more about this feature, have a look at our documentation:
Step 7: The Overview Screen
By now, Timing has probably gathered quite a bit of time-tracking data for you. Let's talk about actually gathering insights from all this information!
To start, click "Overview" in the sidebar. You'll be greeted with a bunch of statistics on how you spend your time:
Here's what these charts tell you, and why they are useful:
- Total time. You can see how much time you spent in total in the selected date range and when you worked the most.
- Your productivity score. Gives you a quick estimate of how much you got done and when during the day and week you are the most productive.
- A bar chart showing how your time is distributed across projects and weeks, hours or days.
- A pie chart showing which projects you spent the most time on. If there's a lot of distractions showing up here, try to identify what they are about and limit the time you spend on them.
- A pie chart showing which apps you used the most.
It also has a small 'Share' button in the top right, in case you want to celebrate your achievements by sharing an overview of your time.
Step 8: Generate Reports
The "Overview" screen gives you a good general impression of where your time went. But what if you want more detailed information, or need to bill your clients? Enter the "Reports" screen, available from the sidebar:
You can restrict the data shown on this screen by selecting one or more projects in the sidebar, or selecting a different date range in the toolbar.
The "Reports" screen also gives plenty of options for processing and presenting your data to generate exactly the report you need. You can also export reports in Excel, CSV, PDF, or a few other formats.
You can find out how to use each option on this screen in our knowledge base:
Step 9: Use the Web App
Before we finish the course, let's look at one more important part of the Timing ecosystem: The web app!
The Timing web app lets you access your data from anywhere. This makes it a very flexible tool for a variety of use cases:
- It can be installed on your phone, letting you quickly start and stop timers on the go.
- Through the Web API and the Zapier integration, you can connect Timing to a variety of other services.
- It lets you manage your team and view their time entries.
And if you'd like to explore more of what you can do with the web app, have a look at this dedicated article:
Step 10: Invite Your Team
Tracking time by yourself is all good and well. But tracking it together is twice as fun!
Luckily, Timing also offers team functionality that lets you share projects with the whole team. This can be useful to manage or bill projects, improve efficiencies and profitability, or to understand the team's current capacity:
And view your team's time entries in a manner that preserves their privacy:
Team members can continue to track time towards private projects that only they have access to. Only the time they track towards the team's projects will be visible to their manager. In addition, managers can't monitor which apps, documents and websites their team members use – all they get to see are aggregates. This preserves the privacy of each person on the team.
To get started, create a team in the Timing web app and invite your colleagues, or learn more about this feature first:
Congratulations, you've made it to the end of the course!
By now, you should have a good overview of how Timing can help you track time more efficiently than ever before. We hope that you'll continue on this journey with us!
If you'd like to further explore what Timing can offer you, we recommend having a look at our knowledge base – it provides plenty of in-depth articles and resources to make the most of Timing. And if you have any questions, we are always available via the contact form.