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MacStories Review – MacStories



I have a long, rocky relationship with time tracking. For years I tracked my time because I had to; the clients were billed by the hour. I hated the tedium of it. Much of it was because I didn't have access to time tracking apps. Instead, I kept track of my time in a notebook or a plain text document. When I left that job, I celebrated myself and found that I had left time tracking in my run. I was very wrong.

Not before had I started writing and podcasting full time than I found myself tracking every minute I work again. There was a difference this time though. I did it for myself to make sure I used my time wisely; Previous tracking helps me weigh the value of the time I spend on each project, identify inefficiencies in the way I work, and act as a warning system to avoid burnout. Tracking for my own benefit has made all the difference in the world, but it did not make it easier to keep up with the habit. For that, I needed a better set of tools than a notebook or text file.

The service I decided was Toggl, which Federico and some other friends already used. It's perfect for anyone who tracks their time for their own purposes because the service has a generous free tier. If you want more comprehensive reporting, advanced features, or project and team management, there are also paid levels.

Toggl also offers a rich web API. It was important when I first started using Toggl because the previous versions of their iOS and Mac apps were not good. These applications have improved, but early on, I began switching to Federico's Toggl workflows that evolved into his current set of Toggl shortcuts next to the Toggl network application running in a Fluid browser instance on my Mac.

I still use Toggl in a web browser on my Mac, but since last year I used beta of Joe Hribars Timer on iOS and loved it. In fact, Timery is so good that even when I'm on Mac, I find myself turning to starting and stopping timers instead of web apps. There are several features I would like to see Timery implement, which I will cover below, but for flexible, frictionless time tracking you can't beat Timery. The app has been on the Home screen for several months, and gets a training seven days a week. Here's why.

How do I track my time

Time tracking is most valuable if you do it consistently. The problem, however, is to track the hours you are working with are a difficult habit to form. When you are busy, you will not interfere with what you do to wrong writing tasks and managing timers.

To understand the strength of Timery as a Toggl front end, it helps to understand how to track my time. Like many time tracking solutions, Toggl tracks time by activity, project and tag. I've tracked my time for over two years now and have found that what works best for me limits projects to broad work areas I do:

  • MacStories
  • Club MacStories
  • Podcasts
  • Sponsorships [19659011] Personal

I used to have the club and podcasts divided into several projects, but over time I have turned to labeling to differentiate subprojects. Tagging also allows me to track various activities across projects. For example, if I write a column for the Monthly Log Newsletter, I notice it as "writing" and "Monthly log" so later, I can look back at the time I spent on just the Month log or writing across all my projects.

The most granular level of time tracking is naming an activity. My only personal rule of thumb with naming is consistency. I started this review by just calling the task & # 39; Timery. & # 39; When I took a break and came back, I used the same description so I could easily see how long the writing took me. It would be harder if the next time I dealt with the review, I called it something different.

Sportid i Timer

With that framework in mind it is time to dive into Timery himself. The app has the modern iOS look with big, bold headlines at the top of the three categories: Saved Timers, Time Messages and Settings.

Whether you are in Saved Timers, Time Records or Settings, there is always a button to launch a timer directly above the app's tab. If a timer is already running, the button displays the project name, task and elapsed time. Labels are also displayed if "Show tag name" is turned on in Settings. If no timer is running, the button then says and prompts you to press it to start a timer. There are several other ways to start a timer, which I'm going to come up with, but this button, which is within easy reach of all the Timery tabs, is often the best place to start on an iPhone because it's always within reach .

When you press the start button, a sheet slides up from the bottom with a number of different ways to enter what you are working on. The screen is divided into three sections, the first of which allows you to select a project from your saved list of projects, enter a description of the task you are working on, and add codes from the list of stored codes. The next part controls the duration of the task. The timer starts counting as soon as you press Start, but you can adjust the start time, which is useful if you started working and forgot to start your timer immediately. The final section of the sheet allows you to select from recent entries and saved time records, which copy the project, description, and tags from any of the entries you select for the current timer. I use this latest option whenever possible, because it's the fastest.

The data for saved timers and recent time records comes from Timery's first two tabs. New saved timers are added with the plus button in the upper right corner of the app. Press that button and you can enter a new task as described above or select one of a long list of the latest entries. Tap "Add" and the new timer joins the list of saved timers.

The advantage of stored timers is that they can be started with a single tap on the timer you want. The Saved Timers tab also displays the total elapsed time for each stored hour you drive, even if you start and stop it several times during the day. Through Timery's user interface, you can also start a timer by swiping right at the entrance and pressing the revealed button. Swipe left and buttons to edit or delete a timer are described.

I try to keep my saved timer list as short as possible. When I write this, I have ten. Each entry is something I do every week with the most used listings at the top. If the list is much longer than that, I have found it difficult to find the one I want fast. It helps even if stored timers are color-coded according to the project, and the saved timer can be manually sorted by pressing and holding an entry, and then dragging it into new positions. Another reason to keep the saved timer list trim is that it is what fills the app's widget, which I cover below.

The Time Insert tab is exactly what you can imagine: a reverse chronological list of timers you have started and then stopped. In addition to project, description and tagging (if enabled), the Time Records tab displays the duration of each task and the time it was started and stopped. Next to each day's list of time entries is the total time logged for that day as well.

As with the Saved Timers tab, you can swipe to the right to start a previous hour or left to edit or delete it. You can also start a timer by pressing the plus button, which opens the same user interface as the button located at the bottom of the Time Entries screen.

One design change I would like to see in the Time Entries section of Timery is consolidation of identical timers that are started and stopped throughout the day. When using Toggls service through its web app, a task like "Write Timer Review", which I can start and stop several times during the day, is an entry with the total time spent on the same day. With Timery, these entries are scattered through the log messages while working on a task, being interrupted by something else, and later resuming. Only stored timers show total elapsed time. To be fair, Toggl's iOS app also does not consolidate entries, but it's a feature I'd like to see, come to Timery, so I can look back at the listings for a day and quickly get a feel for the total time spent on each task without adding more entries to my head.

The screens above show what I mean. In Toggl I have four entries called "Assemble Weekly", which is the Club MacStories newsletter I put together every Friday. These listings are consolidated into Toggle's web app, so I can immediately see that I spent about an hour and a half on Weekly Friday. To see the same information in Timery, I have to scroll the log in and do math in my head to get to the total time.

No matter where you start or stop a timer in Timery's user interface, if you use an iPhone app, a satisfying haptic double crane will confirm the start or end of the timer. It's a little touch, but if I go out the door to fix an errand and remember that I forgot to stop an hour, it's handy to open Timery or its widget, stop the timer, and get a confirmatory print that I put my Call back in my pocket even before I have the visual confirmation that the counter no longer goes.

Projects, codes and tasks can be managed from the Timer Settings tab. The Project section allows you to add new projects, add a name and a color to sync back to Toggle's service. Projects can also be deleted as well. The process is similar for codes except that codes cannot color coded.

Tasks are a function of Toggle's service that is only available as part of a paid plan, and provides a second layer of organization to projects. If you do not have a paid Toggl account, you will not see any evidence of tasks in Timery. The feature is briefly discussed in the description of Timer paid subscription features, but I think it should be more prominent because I would have missed it if I hadn't started experimenting with the feature of Federico's proposal. After signing up for a 30-day free trial for Toggle's Starter subscription, which is $ 9 / month when paid annually, and logged out and back to Toggl in Timery, the task performance appeared immediately in Timery. It's not a difficult process, but it's easy to miss.

When logged in with my new Toggl Starter account, tasks are revealed in a few places. The first is the Project section of the Settings tab. When you click on a project, there is a new section that shows tasks for this project and lets you add new ones. The second place you find Toggl tasks is in the Saved Timers and Time Records tab. When you add a new saved timer or time record, the project part of the view contains all the tasks you have added to a project. From here you can choose an existing task for your timer or add a new one. When you select a Toggl task, it is displayed after a colon in the time record.

In the past, I used tags to create the same level of detail on projects that I track, but the Toggles built-in task feature has the advantage of providing multiple reporting features, and is structured by projects rather than requiring you to choose from a long list of codes. From the screens above you can see how I have divided a few projects into tasks. For Club MacStories, my tasks are heavily influenced by the sections in MacStories Weekly, but also include tasks like Research and Newsletter Assembly. My sponsorship project, however, is structured according to the timeline of ordering sponsors for MacStories and podcasts, and begins by finding sponsors through billing and following up with them.

I just started using Toggle's task function, but what I have seen so far I like a lot. Timery does an excellent job with the feature as well. When you have a paid Toggl subscription, timers with tasks start as easily as without them. Furthermore, if you prefer to stay at Toggel's free plan, it is as if tasks do not exist because you will not see them in Timer's user interface at all, which means they do not get in the way.

Customization

] As an app I dive in and out of every day, I also appreciate that Timery offers a thoughtful dark mode and several icons. Dark mode can be switched in three ways. The first and easiest way is manual. In the app's dark mode settings, it switches to turn on dark mode, which uses dark gray UI elements or Eclipse mode, which switches the user interface to a "true black" theme.

The other way to trigger dark or eclipse mode is based on the iOS brightness of the screen, which is the setting I use. With the program's slider, I set Timery to enter the dark mode when the screen brightness is less than 50%.

The final way to trigger dark mode is on a schedule. You can use sunrise and sunset times for your location, or sometimes you want to use a time picker.

Timery also contains 26 different icons. At the bottom of the icon selection game there is also a theme turn that changes the color of some user interfaces to match the color of some of the icons available.

I do not use widgets today, but I have moved Timery to the top of my widget list and have found myself using it more and more regularly, especially when working on the iPad. When I finish a task, I often find myself back on the iPad homepage and think about which app I need for my next task. Hours are in the iPad dock, so it's not hard to get to, but if I'm already on the home screen, a quick sweep to the right to reveal my widgets may feel more natural.

Timery's widget allows you to stop someone currently running timers and select from your saved timers, which are displayed in two columns in the same order as the main app. If a timer is already running, it appears at the top of the widget that spans the two columns of saved timers. With a button, you can stop the current timer or select a stored one, which stops the current timer and begins the new one. My only wish is that the widget also contained a short list of recent timers, which with those saved would probably cover 90% of the hours I want to start at a particular time.

Timer Settings is also where you can access the App's Siri shortcut options. Siri shortcuts can be configured to start stored timers, check the elapsed time on saved timers, report total time logged for the current day, or current task, and stop the current task. If you press any of the Siri shortcuts in the Timery settings, this shortcut will be displayed in the Siri & Search section of the iOS Settings app, which you must open to record an expression to trigger the action. Once set up, Siri shortcuts are also available in the shortcut application to build custom shortcuts.

I don't often use Siri shortcuts to start stored timers, but I use my shortcut shortcut all the time if I'm in the car via CarPlay, going out the door and calling to the HomePod in another room, or out for a race, and remember that I left a driving hour. I still have to go back and adjust the end time of the last task, but the ability to stop a timer where I seem to do so has dramatically reduced the number of times I start working in the morning to find a timer that has been left running for 12 or several hours. I especially like how Timery's Siri shortcut announces how long a stopped timer ran.

I also use a Siri shortcut to check today's delayed time so often. On days when I have worked on several different projects, it is easy to feel that I have not been done much. A quick check of today's total time logged in Timery as the day goes down, often shows that I have actually put in a whole day's work even when I feel I do not have it, which is a better way to end the day. [19659044] What I'd like to see added

Timery supports keyboard shortcuts on the iPad, but I'd love to see them expanded. The existing shortcuts provide access to all the app's screens, and from the Saved Timers tab you can start the first ten saved timers. What is missing is the ability to navigate the user interface, start previously logged timers, and stop the current one. Navigating using the arrow keys on a paired keyboard would make picking existing timers and adding projects and codes to a new timer much more powerful. As it says, I can start a new timer, but I still have to point to my screen to add information to the timer, which means I'm not going to the actual work to be done.

I would also like to see Timer add reports. Toggl web and iOS apps include charts to visualize how to spend your time. Weekly, monthly and annual reporting can be generated and compared to time logged for prior periods. If you are a Toggl subscriber, project level reports are also available for each project's tasks. I trust these reports to give me a sense of what I'm working with in relation to other projects and past periods, and see how I feel about my workload being done by the data. That is the kind of information that allows me to assess whether I am working on the right projects and making periodic adjustments. I know this is on developer Joe Hribar's radar and look forward to seeing what he comes up with in the future.

Finally, I want a Timery Apple Watch app. I can use Siri shortcuts to start and stop some Watchen timers, but a dedicated Watch app that mirrors the functionality of the app's Today widget and adds a handful of recently used timers will add another convenient way to get access to timers on. I would also like to see a number of watch complications to trigger timers and show expired time.


Timery has helped me make peace with time tracking. Where years ago it was a tedious process of recording detailed notes by hand, now it's a simple, streamlined process. Instead of being an interruption and something that fed a billing system, time tracking has become a tool that helps me work better than before.

Recently, a member of Club MacStories asked if time tracking reduces stress and anxiety. It's an interesting question that made me think about why I'm tracking time and the benefits it provides.

In itself, time tracking is just another tool that does not cause or reduce stress; It is completely on me. For example, if I finish the day, look at Timery, and realize that I've only done four or five hours of work, I'd probably be disappointed in myself and a little stressed, just as I would if I opened Timery and then I had worked 16 hours in a day and spent no time with my family. Long-term, however, understands the responsibility as time tracking reduces stress because it allows me to stay on track and be more productive.

All this applies to time tracking in general, but what Timery adds is a way to make time tracking effortless. It is a role that cannot be understated. Time tracking is a habit that is as difficult to establish as regularly exercising or eating better. When you get busy, it's too easy to stop. Maybe you want to come back to it later or maybe you don't want to, but somehow, much of the benefits of time tracking are consistency and it's lost when you stop.

With saved timers, easy access to newer timers, a Today widget, and Siri shortcuts, Timery makes start and stop timers second nature. It's so simple that I find myself using the app even though I'm working on my Mac and have Toggle's web app open. Much of the time, it's just easier to ask Siri to stop a timer or press a saved timer in Timery than it is to switch to web apps. That's also why I'll see Timery adding an Apple Watch version of the app. The more ways I need to clear timers, the easier it is to maintain my tracking habit.

With WWDC just a few weeks away, I would like to point out that Timery is just the kind of app I had like to see coming to Mac as a marzipan app too. There are many time tracking apps on Mac, but precious few who are also on iOS and no one I like, supports Toggl on both OS, other than Toggl apps themselves. Having Timery on my Mac, especially if it has strong keyboard support, would complete the circle of connections where I need the app and make tracking even easier than it is today with just an iOS app.

Aside a Mac version and other features I would like to see implemented in the future, I can no doubt recommend Timery for time tracking after using the app as a beta for almost a year now. In combination with Toggl, which is The Wirecutter's preferred time tracking service, Timery has reinforced my time tracking habit so well that I no longer find myself taking time tracking breaks when I get busy.

Timery is available from the App Store as a free download. A $ 9.99 / year subscription unlocks many of the features described in this review, a complete list available in the app's settings.


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