Use Reporter with Toggl to Time Track...Everything30 Jun 2016
I’ve been increasingly interested in using Reporter as the centerpiece of a “lifelogging” strategy for some time now (for example), but arguably it’s trademark feature—random snapshots—was also the thing I found the most problematic. It always seemed like I was getting surveyed at the “wrong” time, in the middle of some trivial task, while the larger, more “important” events in my day were going uncatalogued. I know I was missing the point, but I just don’t have the patience to wait an entire year to aggregate the data and see trends.
In fact, what I really want (perhaps what I’ve always wanted) is a really great, roughly accurate snapshot of my day—time tracking on the largest scale: no billable hours, no team collaboration, just a categorized overview of how I spend every second of every day.1
The problem, as I saw it, was two-fold. The first issue was computational: how to measure the time between Reporter’s reports? The second issue, though, was behavioral: could I consistently use Reporter proactively, as a kind of diary? I’m happy to report that the answer to these questions is “using time tracking software” and “yes,” respectively. Now I just make quick reports throughout the day and end up with nice pie charts. Here’s what I did yesterday:
That pie chart is generated by Toggl, which has become my time tracker of choice. It works across devices, generates detailed reports, has a robust API (and an even easier CLI), has a native menu bar app, and is free for those of us who aren’t using it for team-based work purposes.
So, here’s how this works: every new “report” from Reporter starts a Toggl timer. The next report stops the current timer and starts a new one. Repeat as needed.
Super important caveat: this uses a one-word tag from a Reporter question as the Toggl “project.” That project must already exist in Toggl, via the web, desktop, or mobile app. The Toggl CLI that we’ll be using cannot create new projects on the fly.
- Software: Reporter, Hazel
- Reporter should be set to export to Dropbox
- You should have at least two questions in your reports
- What are you doing?
- Add a project tag?
- Hazel should have a rule to check for recently created files in
~/Dropbox/Apps/Reporter-App. (Reporter recreates its export file time every time, so I found that checking for “updated” files didn’t always yield the desired results.)
- Download and set up the Toggl CLI. You can put this wherever you want, but the following script looks for it in
- Hardware: I have Hazel running on an always-on home server. If you don’t have an always-on machine somewhere, be prepared to miss some data. This just won’t work when your laptop lid is closed.
Set Hazel to run this, being sure to add your home folder name on line 14:
I never really have a sense of whether my posts are way too detailed or not detailed enough, so let me know if any of this makes sense in the comments.
Yes, I know this is insane. ↩
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