Quantified Awesome: Building my own time tracker

I took advantage of the holiday break to build my own time tracker into Quantified Awesome. I wanted a simple way to capture activities, thoughts, and other records, using a hierarchy to simplify entry and reporting. This involved ripping out my old code related to Time Recording and Tap Log Records, but it was worth it. Now the reports are more useful for work and life. I’m sure I’ll come up with other improvements as I use it.

After lots of digging, I found a tutorial that helped me figure out OmniAuth. I added Google Accounts and Facebook login to the web app. I still haven’t opened it up to signups, but now I can log in easily, and the site will automatically add signup entries for people who try to use Google or Facebook to sign up. I hope to open things up before the next Quantified Self Toronto meetup on January 17.

I added OAuth because I wanted to be able to synchronize with Quantified Awesome using a native Android application. The web interface for Quantified Awesome is somewhat usable on my Android, and it would be good to tweak it further for the small screen. Still, I don’t always have Internet access, so I want to build an app that can accept data offline and sync it up when ready. I still have to figure out how to use Account Manager and the sync API on the Android. I’m not sure if I can get all that in tomorrow, but there will be other weekends to work on this.

I like tracking my time. The data helps me answer questions like:

  • How much time does it really take me to finish a task?
  • Can I work a good week, getting lots of things done, while making time for personal projects?
  • What’s truly important to me, as shown by what I spend time on?

With my own time tracker, I hope to make data capture and analysis smoother. It’ll be a good excuse to get deeper into Rails 3.1 and Android development, too – skills that might come in handy over the next few years.

I’m happy with the way I used this holiday weekend. It felt like a good balance between spending time with W- and working on my personal projects. I slept more than I expected to and Friday was less productive than the other days, but it was good to take it easy. With clear tasks in front of me in terms of improving Quantified Awesome, I’m sure I’ll have fun.

  • http://www.daysstories.blogspot.com Mom

    Since you have written the program, is that something we can use in the office? I’d like to encourage people to learn how to track their time because I keep hearing that they are very busy, but… (you know what I would write after the “but”).

    Of course, I also would like to track my time because I know that I have a lot of time-wasters.

  • James

    This sounds awesome, Sacha!

  • Peter

    Wow, that’s awesome! When you “open it up”, will you make an announcement here? Looking forward to it!

    • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

      Peter: For sure! =) I see a number of people have already indicated interest, so I might reach out to a few by e-mail to see if I can get them on board, work out bugs, and adapt things to differences in people’s work styles.

      Mom: Like all habit changes, people need to start with their own spark. It’s hard to impose that on other people, as you’ve seen with the attempts to get people to write brief annual reviews. If you’re interested in tracking, you can experiment with it without waiting for me to finish this system. Give it a try with pen and paper or a spreadsheet. Figure out what questions you might want to ask yourself (for example: How much time do you spend in traffic? How much time do you spend looking for things? How much time do you spend with friends? with family?), and track data based on that. Hope that helps!

      James: I sure hope it is. =) I’m interested in how people invest money, but I’m even more interested in how people invest time.