If you’re a freelancer, you’re probably familiar with having to split your time between your work and the more managerial aspects of your business–like invoicing and bookkeeping. Here at AppStorm, we’re fond of the apps that take the edge off of this part of our day, and we’ve likely all used some sort of time tracker software. Usually, you have to create a client, and then a ticket, fill in all of the details of the project, and start a timer, all before getting to work. But what if you just want to get started and worry about all of that tedium later?
Often, I start reviews with a “Getting Started” section, but Finch really has nothing to get started with. Just run the app, maybe choose a few settings, and after that, it’s completely hands off.
The Finch interface really has the right idea. Aside from a few visual bugs, the interface looks great, and uses a lot of the same features you might be used to if you use other popular productivity apps.
The simplistic window design shows 3 buttons at the top. The first two will display your usage history either by window title or by app. In either view, you can create and assign tags to specific apps, or even specific webpages, so that Finch can accurately determine how much time you’re spending on work or play (in my case) or even on a particular client or project.
Each entry in Finch has a drop down arrow that lets you see which window you used and for how long. For even more precision, you can search and filter by app or window title to find a specific window that you spent time on.
The third button will graph your app usage into a bar chart, giving you a visual representation of how your time is spent. I’ll cover this a bit more down below.
Tracking Your Time
The time that Finch saves you in pre-work time tracking it definitely makes up for in the end. It was convenient to get started on a project at an impulse, whenever the idea struck. But after wrapping up, you’ll have to review Finch to determine how long you worked and how much time to bill for.
Since Finch logs your time by app and not by project, tallying up the time spent on a job can be a little tedious, particularly if you use multiple apps for a project. Safari, for example, would need to be broken down into the time you spent on job-specific sites and unrelated webpages. It can be a bit disheartening to have to recap your time after a day spent on work, but ultimately, Finch does lead to more accurate time tracking.
Look at the Billings timer, for example. It’s handy in the sense that it sits in your menubar and keeps you on task (presumably), and when you’re finished working, you can just kill the timer and be done with it. But what if you get off task, take a break to surf the web, or switch over to another project? Finch may require some analysis upon completion, but it will log every app and every webpage you spend time on, allowing you to be very precise with your billable hours.
As you may know, I’m a big proponent of alternative uses for apps and services, and it would simply be irresponsible of me not to explore such uses for Finch. While it may take a unique approach to tracking your billable time as a freelancer, Finch can also provide you with information on how you spend your time when you’re not working.
I found Finch to be just as effective in telling me exactly when and how I get sidetracked from my work and waste time as it was in telling me how long I spent working on a certain project. You can display a “Report” of your time that shows you exactly how much time you spent on certain tasks (or time wasters) in the form of a bar graph. Use this information to your advantage to destroy distractions and stay on task.
Additionally, the app would probably make an effective monitoring tool for little ones–keeping an eye on how your children, or other users on a multi-user machine, are spending their time.
Using Finch for time tracking your freelance work is a matter of whether you’d rather do the work before (setting up a ticket, starting a timer) or after (tallying application time) working on the project itself. I found it most useful as a purely informational app, gleaning the data on where and when I spent (or wasted) my time. There’s definitely a lot of potential in Finch, and for this method of time tracking in general.
How do you track your time?