updated 04:45 pm EDT, Mon April 28, 2008
Everyone's time is valuable, but for people such as consultants or lawyers, who bill by the hour, time can literally be money. To insure that you track time accurately, you could carry a stopwatch and slavishly write down every time you start and stop working on a particular project. While this method may work, an easier solution is to let your Mac keep track of time and billing by using OfficeTime.
The program works by letting you define a list of one or more projects that you may be working on. For example, if you're a webpage designer, you may be working on three separate site designs for a government agency, a restaurant, and a car dealership. Each client would be considered a separate project. If you happen to be doing two different types of work for the same client, you can define each as a separate project.
After creating one or more projects, the next step is tracking your time whenever you work on a specific project. Each time you work on a project, click on the Start New Session button to record the amount of time you're spending. When you're done, click the Stop button. OfficeTime now tracks the amount of time you've spent.
If you walk away from your Mac and let it go to sleep, the program even tracks the time your system has been inactive. Now you have a choice of subtracting, ignoring, or keeping this time as part of your billable session.
To help you define what you've been doing, the program lets you insert category headings and comments. Categories help you track the different ways you spend your time, while comments let you explain exactly what you did; for example, a category might be Client Contact, and your notes for a session might be "Signed contract with client" or "Discussed website design."
If you use iCal to set appointments, OfficeTime can import data to track billing. Track your work in OfficeTime, and the program displays output in iCal. Using Apple's iSync tool, you can even keep track of hours through a PDA such as a smartphone. Whether you're using your Mac or a PDA, OfficeTime helps keep accurate time increments.
Tracking work is even more useful when you let the program calculate your hourly rate simultaneously. Just type in your rate, and OfficeTime will calculate how much to bill for each session.
To further help you understand how you're spending labor, the software can create reports for specific days, weeks or months. Once you see your time displayed as a chart, you can decide which projects are the most profitable, and which individual aspects are consuming the most hours.
Even more useful is the program's ability to generate invoices, based on billable hours. This invoice appears as a document in TextEdit, allowing customization as necessary.
Not everyone needs a program like OfficeTime, but for those who need to track their billing, this program can be invaluable. By calculating hours and producing invoices, this $39.95 program can help you manage your business life, and make sure you get paid what you're worth every time.