Work-Time-Recorder I think every system administrator has been confronted with the challenge of explaining why so much time is required to manage a couple of computers. Especially those laymen who consider themselves to be computer savvy tend to believe that installing a few apps every now and then can’t be so time consuming. If you try to justify the necessity of the very existence of your job, you will realize how difficult it is to give details about its complexity.

If your boss is an IT pro, it probably won’t be that difficult. However, if you have concrete details at hand about your work time, it can be helpful when you ask for a raise. Furthermore, such information can be very useful if you want to analyze the effectiveness of your work. How much time do you spend listening to end user complaints, finding workarounds for software bugs, or writing scripts because you didn’t get the management tools you asked for? Or perhaps you want to know how much time you wasted on 4sysops? These are all well justified questions. 😉

Work-Time-Recorder-ReportsThe Open Source program Work Time Recorder can help you answer these. It is a very simple tool. It will cost you only a few minutes to learn how it works and configure it. All you have to do is add your daily activities. A double click on the activity will start the recording. When you change the activity you just need another double click. (You’d better click on “stop” when you start flirting with the pretty secretary, though, because that doesn’t count as work time.)

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To analyze your work time you have to create a report. The reporting function of Work Time Recorder is a bit simple. It only offers a daily summary. If you want to find out more details about your monthly work time activities, you can export the data to a CSV file and import it in a spreadsheet program. It is a bit tricky to get it correctly displayed in Excel. If you are not familiar with Excel’s import function, I suggest using the Google Docs spreadsheet tool. You just have to upload it there.

  1. John 14 years ago

    I would highly recommend a freeware called FruitfulTime ProductivityMeter –

    It automatically tracks your computer activity. Install and leave it running in the background!

  2. Andy Hop 14 years ago

    FruitfulTime ProductivityMeter rocks! I use it and recommend it too!

  3. Thanks for the tip, John. I played a little FruitfulTime. It is nice. However, I think such tools have a different purpose. They show you how you use your PC, i.e. how much time you spend with certain apps etc. But usually that is not enough to measure your work time. What about phone calls, meetings, etc.? Furthermore, admins tend to work on different PCs. You also have to take into account that you can do different things with a certain app. For example, you can write a documentation or a letter with Word. These things have to be distinguished.

  4. Leonardo 14 years ago

    Nice. Right now I use an excel spreadsheet to keep track of my time with a text file to write down notes as I do stuff… It sucks, but I know I’ll rage if someone asks “It took you THAT long to do that?”

  5. Leonardo, glad to see that commenting works again. 🙂 The problem in IT is that unforeseen things happen all the time. Today it took me several hours to copy a 1MB file. The hard drive had a problem and I spent half of the afternoon to fix it. Since I am tracking my work time I realize how much time I lose with malfunctioning software and hardware.

  6. Brian Nelson 14 years ago

    I use a tiny little app called multi-timer because it runs both regular timers and countdown timers at the same time. That way I can track and remind myself that I’ve spent too much time on something. The flaw with that is the same one I see here. You still have to remember to start and stop it and then put that info somewhere useful. What we need is a hybrid of that Fruitful time utility and this one. Something that is semi-automatic, but doesn’t sit there counting the time I have Word minimized as time it is being used.

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