One thing I find really frustrating is not knowing on what did I spent my time. And this get event worst when you have to report your progress, and are unable to remember what took you so long one month ago.
Thankfully I found some useful tools to keep track of the time spent on various tasks. The first time tracker I used is Hamster: it is light-weight, easy to use, perfectly integrated with your desktop, but only available with Linux, and with limited reporting functionalities.
As I work with both Ubuntu and Windows, I needed a tool available on both, and that could synchronize between various computers. A quick Google search lead me to Toggl that I have been using for 2 weeks now.
It is extremely easy to use, has a web interface as well as desktop applications for Windows, Linus, iPhone and Android, all your data is stored online and therefore accessible from any computer, and best of all, it has a free plan. More advanced users may be interested by the pro functionalities, which include team workspaces, billable tasks and more.
How does it work? Well you just need to create an account, create a project you are working on, add a task and start tracking your time with the integrated timer. This can be done on the Toggl website or directly on your desktop with the lightweight Toggl application.
You can then visualize reports detailing your activities by day, week or month, and see precisely when did you work on what. This information is particularly useful to be able to quantify the time required for a specific task, and give you the tools to give a precise answer to the “how long will it take” question. Furthermore, you can easily see what tasks/projects are consuming too much of your time and should be redefined or put aside to get higher priority things done. Finally, advanced features such as the billable tasks give you instant information on the value of your work.