Three years ago, when I was working for a company, we were obliged to build the daily timesheet reports. No one really analyzed them, but the management thought it was a good idea to control productivity of the staff. Should mention it didn’t work? It took less than a day to the staff to learn playing the tricks with their reports to make them look genuinely productive. What was the point in them if no one was interested in the outcome?

Recently I have become interested. The question I asked was where all my precious time goes. Of course, I’m working hard as most of us do, but do I spend all of the time productively? By this I don’t mean work with no breaks for eight hours just to wear yourself out in couple of weeks. The breaks are as important as uninterrupted working sessions. My goal though has become to spot unnecessary time eaters and bad habits for merciless removal.

I scanned through the productivity centric sites and, as usual, discovered people have been using and developing the techniques since the ancient times. People share secrets, give advices, discuss, and exchange links to the software they use to meet the goals. That day I stumbled upon the Time Panic. There is certainly a rich choice on the net; it’s just what I’m evaluating it right now, and so far it worked well.

TimePanicMiniTime Panic looks good overall, yet still has some rough edges. It has a slick and convenient user interface, plus the feature to collapse it in the system tray with a decent right-click quick task selector for the majority of tasks you have. You can configure the list easily and instantly switch from one to another via the context menu. It’s a great time saver, but there’s a counterpart time eater though.

I noticed that I can’t choose a favorite task and set the comment directly from the context menu. The comments are essential to hold some extra details on what is being done. This is for the later when the data analyzes time comes. It’s not a big deal that they can’t be set directly, but speaking of productivity, it’s something that takes another 30 to 40 seconds daily plus the distracted attention. So, may be still worth implementing?

The results of my new exercise were unexpected. I stopped wasting time and have got that confidence that I take the most from my time some of us usually miss. It has become a nice addition to my latest planning efforts where I clearly state the goals and the steps for reaching them (according to GTD) watching them come true with the simple tool.

Let me know if you use time trackers and what is your experience.