Friday, October 26, 2012

Grindstone-Time Tracking Software

Being able to track your time is an essential tool for genealogists, whether working for a client, doing personal research or developing a new presentation. For those of us who tend to go down the rabbit hole, it’s a real eye opener to see how much time you are spending doing just that. Or how much time it actually takes to write an article or a research report.

My local genealogy society, the Genealogical Forum of Oregon, asks the volunteers to regularly report their volunteer hours. For those of us who generally work at home, like my associates who research, write, edit, proof and do the layout for our quarterly publication, The Bulletin, time tracking has proved to be just one task too many. We start out with the best of intentions, but our time-keeping logs only have a small fraction of our time.

For these and many other projects an accurate record of your time is invaluable. It can help you to bill your clients accurately, make informed estimates of projects and keep you on track while working.

Although I have dabbled with other time-tracking software I have found Grindstone, a free Windows based program by Epiforge Software, to be a good choice. It is easy to use and suites me perfectly. You start with the task, or project list and add estimate of time, completion date, and rate. Then you simply select the task you are working on and click the start timing button.

If you want ,the timer will stay visible while you are working. You can use it to stop timing or change tasks.


There is also an egg-time you can set for any amount of time and it will alert you when time is up.

One of my favorite features is “away detection.” I don’t have to stop the timer when I leave the computer, Grindstone knows. When I return it will ask what to do with the time I was gone. With a simple click I can add the time to any project or just ignore it and resume timing. The screen shows you how long you were gone  and has a note field to account for the time if needed.

There are several reports available in grindstone:

Summary, which will show a daily report of all the blocks of time worked on specified projects for a chosen time period, with any associated charges. This one shows work done on October 22.


Breakdown, which shows the percentage of work for each task.


Invoice. Total charges for chosen date range and project.


And timesheet which will show the time spent for the chosen projects and time period, with daily and project totals.


This program has been a real eye opener for me. The first day I used it I was astounded on how much time I spent on certain  tasks. While Grindstone may not suit for everyone, I find it helps me not only track my time on projects, but makes me aware of how I am using my time, and how much time I do spend down that rabbit hole. And that has saved me both time and money.


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