Day after Day. Week after Week. Month after Month. Year after Year. Where did it all go?

Busy professionals find themselves in the grip of massive amounts of task and time management challenges and it’s really, really easy to allow hours to go by and then sit back and wonder, where did it go? What did I do?


I found this happening to me so much more after I stopped working for two giant companies which consumed most of my day. Back then, it was really easy to just create two big time entries in my home grown MS Access / SQL Server time tracking database – one before lunch, and one after lunch. I rarely take breaks and when I do it’s less than 5 minutes, so I wouldn’t take the time out of my timekeeping. After all, sitting in front of a computer writing code for six hours justifies a couple of stretch breaks in there. Those days were easy. I worked mostly all day doing one project most of the time.

But then I found myself rebranding and reinventing myself, creating all new services and redefining my long standing software development consulting into a series of very distinct services such as Software Development, Database Development, Microsoft Access Development, Microsoft Access to SQL Conversions, Web Site Solutions, and Online Marketing. I completely redesigned my site three times during a two year period and proved that web site aesthetics and bounce rates are inexorably linked. I’m in the process now of completely overhauling everything again for a fourth time and rebranding the services into Be Awesome Software,  Be Awesome Web Design, Be Awesome Marketing, and Be Awesome SEO, all under the brand name Be Awesome LLC. I’ve produced YouTube videos that have gotten thousands of views, a podcast, manage and maintain a fair number of web sites, blogging on several web sites as well as on LinkedIn, while still working on software development for programming clients and some new small business web site clients.

Needless to say, I had no idea where my time went. I kept track of the billable time that I needed to track for any hourly projects, but fixed price, gratis, self necessity, office management and accounting – none of that was tracked. So I would work from 6:00 AM till sometimes 9:00 PM Monday through Friday and even more on the weekends. I had no idea. I needed something that would track my time LIKE A BOSS!!! Enter TimeCamp – my new best friend and, as it turns out, a very keen taskmaster and inherent master of personal multi-tasking nirvana.

So where did my time go? And how did TimeCamp win me over?

I originally wrote my own time tracking app in MS Access along with a SQL Server database back end. The whole thing is pretty ugly, with an old school windows desktop app look and feel. It allowed me to keep track of time entries that included Date, Client, Project Invoice#, Start and End Time, Job, Job Task, and Sub Task. It wasn’t really hierarchical, more linear, with each time entry containing a column for each of the elements listed above. It worked, but over the years as I used it I kept thinking that the right way to do this would be to create a Task hierarchy with unlimited levels, really one table of task data with each record having an ID and a Parent ID, so you could parse the tasks, sub-tasks, sub-sub-tasks, etc into a tree-view. All you would need to track your time is the date, start time, end time, and a task ID. You could select from any level of any task hierarchy and the time entry would be associated with that ID. For reporting, you could select the highest level which would include all sub-levels. I often thought of creating something like this online and offering it as a web/mobile app for other solopreneurs like myself. During the process of researching my competition, due to the nature of Google’s Ad network cookies in combination with my Google searches, ads started appearing on SERPs, Facebook and other AdSense enabled sites on the web and somewhere along the line I came across TimeCamp‘s Ad and clicked on it. After reading their landing page, I decided to give the 30 day trial a shot. Why? Because of the features they offered. I’m going to use screenshots from my actual TimeCamp installation here so you can see how utterly awesome this is.

Web Based Timesheet


The web based timesheet is really all you need to add your own manual entries. There is a built-in timer so you can start, stop, start again, any entry in the list. This list is from today as I’m writing this blog post. But I didn’t add those entries manually. They were automagically added by the TimeCamp Desktop App.

TimeCamp Desktop App

The Desktop app is what really sets TimeCamp apart from anything else I’ve found. It is really tiny, actually seems almost non-existent. This is what it looks like:


Actually, there is a tray app that sits down by the clock that is really all you need. You can choose whether to have this little reminder window/interface open or not. At this point, you can manually select tasks, subtasks, etc. by scrolling and selecting or searching, and as soon as you do the previous time entry ends and the next one begins. If you don’t already have the task set up you just click the Create Task button give your task a name, keywords (optional – it’s for controlling automatic mode), and a parent (or not).


Automatic Mode

Automatic Mode is where this software really shines. In your Projects and Tasks list (which I’ll get to in a minute) you can set up keywords use in Automatic Mode. When keywords are set up, the software will decide what you are working on, as long as the Desktop App can find any of the keywords you’ve defined in the Title of any window or URL/Title of any web site. For example, you can set up a keyword Facebook on a task called Screwing Off and every time you go on Facebook, TimeCamp will let you know that you spent that time screwing off. Other very advantageous uses for keywords are to put keywords related to web sites, social media properties, online software, and various project files you work on for clients into various tasks. For example I can automatically keep track of every second I spend on a client’s web site or on any files or folders specific to the client. We’ll get into keywords in more detail in a bit.

When Automatic mode doesn’t know what you are working on, it pops up a window asking after a period of time that you specify in your preferences. I set mine up to prompt me after 3 minutes, this way I can be working on email, open a web page to looks something up and go back to the email without it switching. As long as I don’t spend more than 3 minutes on something “unknown” to the tracking software, it assumes I’m still working on the previously identified task.

A note about Automatic Mode: when working in Automatic Mode, you don’t want to have the desktop timer collecting time if you have another time running. This software can record time from multiple simultaneous locations (like, as in, track what your employees are doing) so a timer running on the web can run concurrently with the desktop timer. It takes a bit of practice and discipline to make sure you are only running one timer at a time. TimeCamp can interface with a ton of other web applications like Trello, and if you’re going to start a Trello timer you should make sure you pause your desktop timer.

Integration with 3rd Party Software

I mentioned Trello above, but as of this writing TimeCamp interfaces with Trello, Redmine, Asana, Podio, Wunderlist, Jira, Pivotal Tracker, Basecamp, Assembla, ActiveCollab, QuickBooks, Teamwork, Insightly, Xero, Freshdesk, Zendesk, Targetprocess, OpenProject, and iCal.

Uncompromising Organization

Your time tracking items are organized by Projects. Projects are the top level time entry. Projects can have tasks associated with them, and tasks can have sub-tasks. Sub-tasks can have another subtask below those. I don’t know what the depth is but I’ve played around during testing with up to five levels and aside from some quirkiness with how the treeview is rendered when selecting tasks manually, it all worked pretty good. Here’s just a small sampling of the tasks I’ve set up:


I have main Projects like Business Administration, Clients- Billable, Internal Tasks (which comes automatically with TimeCamp and is associated with the To-Do list, Non-Billable Projects, and Personal. Under those, I’ve got everything broken down into up to four levels of granular detail. In fact, I just counted, and I have one hundred twenty-two projects and subtasks. Nearly every one of those has keywords that are designed to automatically switch in increments of as low as one second between tasks based on the windows that have the focus on my computer. It’s still not 100% yet, but it’s getting there. Whenever the Automatic time collector desktop app can’t figure out what I’m doing for 3 minutes (a window that is configurable in the settings) it asks, and if I don’t already have a task created to match what I’m doing, I add one and use the window title or URL as the keyword so the next time it knows what to assign my time to.

Within each individual task item, from the top level and through every level of sub-task, you can assign Keyword rules, assign people who have access to the time tracking item and specify their role, set a budget of estimated hours (optional – leave it blank for hourly billables), cost per hour, and specify if the time from the task is billable by default. Within each time entry on the timesheet you can specify each line item as being billable or not, and this setting tells the software what to use first. You can move the task to a different project or task, or move all the time from the task to another task without actually moving the task. You have access to reports, can create comments, or even delete the task. If you delete the task, all the time entries for it end up in the Unassigned Computer Activities time entry on each day. Needless to say, you don’t want to have to go back through months of unassigned activities and move them to a new task, so it was wise of the designers to add the ability to move all time items to another task so you can delete an unwanted task. Here’s a shot of what the task configuration screen looks like:



Data is nothing without the ability to analyze it, and TimeCamp is no exception to this rule, giving you the ability to create reports by Project & Tasks,


by Computer Time,


and by Attendance. Remember, TimeCamp is designed to track time by seat so a company can purchase as many seats as they need and give one to each employee. With the very flexible control over tasks and their visibility and usage, you can assign employees a restricted set of tasks based on the job they do, leaving out the rest that they should never use and will never need, create keywords, lock them out of turning on and off the timer so you can track their non-work activities… a note on this: most people will take a few minutes out of the drudgery of the mindlessness of creative development projects or high pressure ticket based development environments to check their email, blow through their Facebook timeline for a few minutes, and this will let you find out if anybody is abusing any flexibility your policies grant to them. The reporting in TimeCamp is awesome and I use it to generate web page based time reports for my clients and print them to PDF.

The bottom line: how this has transformed my life

I no longer ask myself “where did my time go?”. I actually get an email every morning telling me where it went the previous day. Here’s an example of one:


And I get an email every week, telling me how I did last week. Like this one:


I know where my time goes, and this keeps me on track. I can’t waste time playing around on Facebook without knowing it or realizing how much time I waste there. I just stopped going on Facebook unless I am going there to do Social Media marketing, promotion, or customer engagement activities for the various Facebook pages that I manage.

Timecamp has also had a really excellent effect on my bottom line. I usually spend about 10 minutes every morning going over the last days time entries and I can’t tell you how many times I find billable hours stuck in non-billable time blocks because I had the timer in Manual and forgot to switch. I simply move them, so I recover billable hours that I normally would have missed or forgotten about. Conversely, as much as we all try to not attribute non-billable activities to billable time, it’s inevitable that when we are working we might remember to do something in our Accounting program or write something into a Mind Map that pops into our heads and forget to take that time off of a client’s billable time. I know, some people – and some companies at the policy and procedure level – routinely pad their hours or include non-billable tasks into billable time blocks. I try not to do that. If I’m sending you a bill, I want it to be two things, if nothing else: honest, and accurate. So now when my clients get a bill from me, they get billed for all the time I spent, which benefits me, and they don’t get accidentally billed for that 5 minutes of answering an email that they shouldn’t pay for because of the simple human nature habit of zooming from one task to another to another to another like a crazy person without really thinking about it too much.

This software is, well AWESOME!!!!

PS there’s more that I didn’t cover like Invoicing and ToDo lists, multiple user environments, etc. Try it out for yourself at

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for Timecamp so if you follow my links and get an account, I’ll get a free seat. Just so you know.
But I promise you that had nothing to do with my glowing report of timecamp’s total awesomeness. That’s purely genuine.

Be Awesome!!!