Task-O-Matic: Automatically Create Tasks 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.
  • Tasks, which are created manually. They cover arbitrary blocks of time and can include a description and notes.

This makes tasks very flexible. For example, we recommend creating tasks 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 tasks also makes creating them more time-consuming. To speed this up, Timing already offers various automation features for creating tasks, such as the timeline and timers.

Often, you'll want to create tasks that "cover" the time you spent working on your Mac. You can quickly accomplish this using the Task-O-Matic. The Task-O-Matic takes your existing app usage and automatically creates tasks to cover them. Have a look at the following video for a quick demonstration:

Use Cases

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 Task-O-Matic.
  • Timing's web app, API and Zapier integration only support tasks, not app usage. With the Task-O-Matic, you can quickly "convert" that app usage into tasks.

Usage

  1. Go to the "Review" screen.
  2. Select the project you would like to generate tasks for.
  3. Click the "Create Tasks" button on the right of the activity list.
    If that button is not present, you can also find a "Task-O-Matic" item in the "Edit" menu.
  4. Enter your desired task details and Task-O-Matic options (see below).
  5. Preview the effects via the timeline (if shown) and the descriptions in the "Task-O-Matic" dialog.
  6. Press "Create Tasks". If you need to undo your change, you can always do so by pressing ⌘-Z.

You can also create tasks for only a subset of your activities by selecting the corresponding entries in the activity list, then right-clicking them and pressing "Create Tasks".

Options

The following configuration options are available:

  • Minimum task duration: Instructs Task-O-Matic to only create tasks 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 tasks that cover such breaks, increase this value.
  • Overwrite existing tasks: If you already have existing tasks, you can have Task-O-Matic overwrite and replace them, or only cover time periods that do not yet contain a task.

Example Settings

If you are unsure about what values to use for the Task-O-Matic, the following might be good options for starting out:

  • Default.
    Minimum task duration: 5 Minutes
    Maximum gap length: 1 Minute
    These settings are a good general-purpose starting point. The minimum task duration helps avoid very many short tasks while the gap length of 1 minute already serves to fill some quick research breaks:
  • Filling larger gaps.
    Minimum task 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 task 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 tasks as accurately as possible.
    Minimum task 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 tasks!
    In that case, you'll want to choose both values as low as possible to both avoid dropping short tasks, but also not "invent" too much time by filling large gaps:

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