If you’ve got a job that requires invoicing the time you worked on certain tasks, it can become quite a chore to keep up the tracking of each of them, hence the justification for project managing and time tracking apps. They lend a helpful hand if you want to track your work time or simply if you want to know more about where your time is going.
The downside is that most of these apps tend to be pricy and overcomplicated. It’s refreshing to see an app that takes a more simplistic approach to the task of time tracking. Chronos is one of them, and we’ll be checking it out today.
Chronos is a little app that for $4.99 can help you keep track of the time you’ve spent on your work in a very simple, quick way. However, its simplicity is complemented with powerful customization and a heavy set of features. It won’t stop you from using it as a companion to your favorite invoicing service, or as an information hub for your working habits.
Chronos runs as a stand alone window as well as on your menu bar. The main window is where you can set your projects and tasks, and the menu bar component is the quick go-to whenever you are working for stopping and starting the clock.
The main window of the app is pretty simplistic, there’s a status bar where your current timer is shown and where the REC button is located, then there’s the sidebar which gives you access to all your different projects, and the main area is where all of the tasks and relevant information for your selected project is shown.
Projects & Tasks
Chronos gives you two levels of organization for your tracking needs. First, there are the projects, which contain a list of assignments, referred to as “tasks”. A project can have any number of tasks, and when you want to start tracking time, your clock will need to be attached to a task, not just to a project in general.
There’s a lot of flexibility as to how the projects and tasks can be managed, it’s really up to you how deep you want to get with the categorization of them. For example, I could set “Appstorm” as a general project and manage each of my articles as a single task, such as “Chronos Review”, or alternatively I could set that single review as my project and manage each part of the review as a task, such as “Writing” and “Editing”.
If you are done with a project, you can select to delete it or to archive it. The archive will simply move them over to a separate organization area under the projects list, but it will keep all of the tasks and information in them ready for consulting or for setting as active again.
To start tracking time, all you need to do is select your project and task from the main window and hit the REC button. If you had previously tracked another session under the same task, the timer will just continue over the previously recorded time. If you’d rather manage the app through the menu bar, starting a timer is as simple as clicking its little icon. A popup will appear, letting you choose the project and task under which the app should record your time.
If you’d like to know more about your tracked time, you can double click each task to view a summary of all the sessions under which you recorded time for that task. This information is neatly organized with each session containing date, duration and there’s even a field for comments.
Under the settings there are a few things that let you tweak how Chronos behaves. For example, you can tell Chronos to stop the current timer if there is no activity on your computer for a certain amount of time. There are customizable global keyboard shortcuts for showing the app and starting/stopping a timer, as well as default tasks for each new project that’s created, small tweaks for showing the current timer on the menu bar, and a few other minor details.
Exporting works on a project basis and through .csv files. The process asks you first what information you’d like to include in the exporting, such as tasks, columns (dates, comments, duration, etc.), and the range of dates that you’re exporting, and that’s it.
Where It Fits In Your Workflow
Apps like Billings and similar that incorporate several features such as time-tracking, project-managing and invoicing into one single package are not on the level of Chronos, as the latter is much more simplistic and established in its own category. Think of it more on the level of simple menu-bar time trackers like TimeCop and TicToc.
Chronos won’t get in your way, with just a quick keyboard shortcut or a click in your menu bar, you’ll be ready to track your activities, leaving the hard work of classifying and invoicing for later. Set it, let it track its thing, and then export its information to your invoicing service later. If what you’re looking for is a complete and intuitive solution for time tracking that does not require too much of you everytime you want to use it, then this is a good option.
Keeping track of how your time is being spent is always useful, it helps you realize where exactly your day is going so that you can make some changes in your workflow, and if your work depends on billing for time worked, then it’s also something that’s imperative for invoicing.
Chronos is a nice simple solution for keeping up with the tracking of your time without it becoming too much of a chore. Setting and stopping tasks and timers won’t take you too much time, it’s simple enough for you to get it working in just a few seconds. It might not be on the level of more complete project-managing apps, but that’s not a fair comparison since Chronos knows its place as a simple but powerful time tracking app.
What do you think? Would you use this app, or do you use any other similar ones? Let us know in the comments!