Toggl: a nifty time management tool for COOs of the Home

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by Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

momofficeI work at home as a part-time graphic designer, and I also manage a lot of my work as a stay-at-home mom on the computer. Combine that with using language learning software, writing two blogs, reading plenty more, and keeping up with friends and family far away, that can equal a lot of computer time.

If I’m not careful, I can end up spending all day on the computer. My kids could become Computer Orphans if I don’t make time management a priority.

I’ve recently found a tool that can really help a mom manage her computer time. Toggl is a free service that monitors your computer time. It’s nothing more than a time logger, but it watches the clock so you don’t have to.

Let me show you how it works for me.

  • When I log into my Toggl account, I click on “new project.”
  • I create a project name – something obvious like “Balance Checkbook.”
  • It requires that you have a client’s name attached to a project, so for this project I’d use “Family.”
  • I decide how many hours I WANT to spend on this task – let’s say 2.
  • Whenever I’m ready to start that task, I click the start button next to that project. It immediately starts tracking my alloted time.

I’ve attached a screenshot of what my Toggl page looks like:

toggl.jpg

You can see that Toggl is actually created for tracking billable hours, like for folks who are self-employed or who telecommute from home. It’d be nice if moms COULD bill their hours, but since we can’t, just ignore this feature. (Or you could give your kids an invoice on Friday, letting them you know can accept straight up cash or whine-free dinnertimes as forms of payment.)

Even though this obviously works best for your computer time, you can also use it for whatever project on your to-do list. If you need to sort through your kiddo’s outgrown clothes, you could add that, and just start the timer on the computer when you start. I can see it working well for getting ready for a garage sale, planning a birthday party, or tracking your child’s homework time. Anything on which you want to spend time wisely.

When you finish your project, you simply click on “task completed.” If you want to see how you’ve managed your time so far, click on “see report,” and it will itemize each task and your time spent on each.

This works very well for me. I’m a list maker, I’m task-oriented, and it helps when I have a reachable goal for my many unseen mom jobs – I’m working to beat the clock, in other words. I also need accountability sometimes! This provides me with a time card for my full-time job of Mom, COO of the Household. And it encourages me to get things done and stay on task.

Another feature that’s great for moms of preschoolers is that you can start and stop your Toggl timer all day. So when you sit down to reply to emails, get the “Dear Mom, Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you” written, then have to stop to fish a Nemo toy out of the toilet, you can pause the timer at the click of a button. Then you can start it up again. And of course, stop it again when your baby’s diaper is now emitting its contents up his back.

At the end of the week – or month, or day, or whenever, I can look at my hours logged, and look at my time management technique square in the face. Did I mean to spend only three hours this week reading blogs, and ended up devoting eight? Did I stay on task for four hours this week writing blog posts, or researching money market accounts, or planning Suzy’s homeschool curriculum – or whatever you need that smidge of accountability for?

With Toggl, I can create my own timesheet. Mom’s the COO, but sometimes it helps to also be the boss.
Photo by Jana Christy

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Comments

  1. avatar
    Angie Lee says:

    Thank you so much for this! If I could, I’d spend all day looking at blogs and photography… it’s about time I faced the horrifying realization of how much time I actually waste on the computer!

  2. Absolutely! I completely agree – it’s so hard to know how to best manage the time when you’re at home all day. There are times for blog reading, when it’s okay just to explore and peruse – and then there are those times when you can’t remember when you last changed your baby’s diaper, and then you wonder… ;)

  3. I have never heard of Toggl until now, thank you SO much! I immediately signed up and am now timing my “misc. Computer time” :) I love this and really think it will help me stay focused and have accountability!
    Thank you for sharing about it!
    Carisa

  4. Oh – this is TOO scary! It would put it in black and white what I know is all too true – I spend just too much at my laptop.

    Great blog by the way – I will be back :)

  5. I suspect this would tell me that I spend WAY too much time putzing around online.

  6. I so have to check this out. thanks 4 the tip!

  7. I was just wondering if there was something that would keep track of my computer use. Thank you! :)

  8. @Carisa – Glad it’s working out for you. I know what you mean about that accountability with the free time on the computer. Scary, isn’t it?

    @JanMary – Yep, scary. No hiding from the truth with this thing… And glad you like the blog!

  9. Yeah. Don’t like this post at all. I have to be accountable for all my computer time? LOL! *sigh*

    Thanks for the tip…self-admitted blog/internet junkie here!

  10. @Andi – :) I know what you mean. Sometimes I have to force myself to use this thing.

  11. @Jeni, Lorraine, Blue Castle – So sorry I didn’t respond to you earlier! My spam filter caught your comment and I didn’t see it until just now.

    Glad this might help you out. Yeah, it’s kind of a mixed blessing to have this kind of thing available. You almost don’t want to see what it tells you… ;)

    Thanks for popping by, all!

  12. That is an excellent resource! I struggle with my time management so much sometimes, with running a busy blog, writing an ebook, emails, etc. It’s so hard to stay disciplined to get done what I need to get done, without wasting a lot of extra time.

    I think this will be so helpful for me to really see where my time is going and be more motivated to use it wisely. Thanks so much for highlighting this!

    Stephanie @ Keeper of the Homes last blog post..Sweet, little nurslings

  13. Try True Time Tracker – really great time tracking software – http://www.truetimetracker.com/

  14. Am not much aware of this tool, though I use the Replicon Time tracking software for managing time and is one of the best software. http://www.replicon.com/time-tracking-software.aspx

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