Where did the Time Go?
If work takes place but the time isn’t recorded and reported, did it really happen? Of course it did, but without a record of time spent on work activities and tool support to summarize this information, reporting your hours for timesheets and billing purposes is incredibly tedious. Tasktop extends Mylyn’s rudimentary timing facilities to make time tracking more accurate and reporting easily managed.
If you are a Mylyn user, you may already know that Mylyn tracks the time spent on each task (while active). The total time spent (active time) on a task can be viewed on the task editor’s planning page. The active time recorded here is derived from all time spent with the task active and the Eclipse workbench window in the foreground. Step out of the workbench and the time is no longer accumulating. This means that time spent emailing, researching, and authoring documents outside of Eclipse is not recorded. The active time that is recorded by Mylyn gives a lower bound on the time spent and is sufficient when just getting started with Mylyn, but the limitations soon become evident once work takes place outside of the workbench.
To address this shortcoming, Tasktop hooks into the operating system (Windows/OSX) to augment the workbench timing provided by Mylyn with the time spent in applications outside of Eclipse. Now, when researching on the web or authoring documents, time is being recorded for you enabling easy and accurate time reporting.
In previous Tasktop releases, in depth reporting of task activity hadn’t been addressed. Nor is it available in Mylyn since, planning and tracking tools are beyond the scope of the open source project. But since Tasktop’s first release in February of this year, Time Reporting has been one of the top voted for and discussed feature enhancements. So it should come as no surprise that Time Reporting is front and center in this summer’s Tasktop release. Use the Time Reporting editor to review the time spent on tasks today, this week, this month, or within a date range of your choosing. You are presented with a graphical overview of the selected date range with graphs of task time by day, category, and working set (Figure 9). If you only wish to report time for a specific category in the Task List or a specific Working Set, Tasktop’s Time Reports can be scoped accordingly. For those times when you know work took place on a task but you forgot to activate, simply add the task to the report and specify the time that was spent or make adjustments to an existing task time. Add generic time entries to account for meetings and add sub entries under a task for more detailed breakdown of time spent on a particular task (Figure 10). After the appropriate adjustments have been made, the report can be saved for future revision or export. Reports can be exported to CSV for import into your employer’s timing system or exported to HTML and printed off on your way to a stand up meeting.
Tip: Getting back to a task worked on in the past, be it today, yesterday or two months ago can be tricky in Mylyn. If you’re running Tasktop, simply use the Tasktop Dashboard to track down tasks you’ve worked on previously. Once located, double click to open the task.
In addition to reporting time, Tasktop also includes tool support for planning your workweek and for helping you maintaining awareness of your schedule and significant events as they happen throughout the workweek.