In this episode, I’ll answer the question: Can Timing Replace Toggl and Timery on your Mac?
Visit https://macpreneur.com/setapp (referral link) to test Timing and 240+ applications for free for 30 days.
- 01:19 Timing intro & setup
- 03:43 Activities & rules
- 07:35 Calendar & time entries
- 09:38 Synchronization
- 11:52 Statistics & reports
- 14:09 Pricing
- 18:46 Pros & cons of Timing
- 21:45 Conclusion
Are you a solopreneur searching for the perfect time tracking tool for your Mac?
Have you tried Toggl and Timery in the past, but they’re just not doing it for you?
Then today we will be diving deep into a powerful alternative that could revolutionize your productivity.
We’ll unpack all of this after the intro.
You’re listening to the Macpreneur Podcast, the show that helps solopreneurs save time and money by streamlining how they run their business on their Mac. Here is your host and technology mentor, Damien Schreurs.
So if this is your first episode of Macpreneur, welcome.
This episode is actually part of a short series on time tracking, and in the previous episodes, we’ve explored the pros and cons of Toggl and Timery.
If you don’t know those tools, I recommend to check episodes 54 and 55, and this episode will now focus on an alternative on the Mac called Timing.
Now, even though Toggl and Timery have great features and are either free or very inexpensive, both of them require us to manually create time entries.
And this is where Timing comes in because it’s capable of automatically tracking what we do on our Mac and assign that activity to the various projects that we may have defined.
And so by default, Timing operates like ScreenTime.
It records in the background, the applications that we use, the websites that we visit, and the files and folders that we access.
Now, to be able to do that, obviously we will need to give it the permission.
And, it’s also possible to exclude applications and websites from being tracked.
The good news as well is that private browsing in Safari, for instance, is excluded by default.
Now, like with Toggl and Timery, Timing requires a little bit of setup to do, mainly defining the projects and the sub-projects to which we would like to assign the activity on our Mac.
So for each project, it’s possible to define even productivity levels.
Five levels that go from 0%, equivalent to unproductive, to 100%, which would be fully productive.
This allows Timing to give us a productivity score.
The more time we spend on highly productive projects, the more productive overall Timing will tell us that we are.
In terms of projects definition, you can name them however you want, but you can also apply some color coding, so that it’s easier to find them in the, in the tree structure.
Now it’s up to you to decide how deep or shallow you want this projects structure to be.
I have decided to create a structure with three main top level projects, so EasyTECH, Macpreneur, and Personal.
And then within those projects I have more or less reused the same structure that I used for Toggl and Timery.
And since there is no concept of tag in Timing, I had to create a structure that goes five levels deep.
In the application, there are on the left, three main sections.
The “All activities” so everything that has been automatically tracked.
And then the “Unassigned activities”, so the things that timing didn’t know where they belong.
And then underneath that, there’s a third part, which is the assigned part. And this is where you see then your folder structure for your project.
So the process in Timing is simple: you will drag and drop the activities that have been recorded onto the project or the sub-project that you want.
So for instance, in my case, when I do anything related to Macpreneur, I have a dedicated application, and so I drag and drop the activities based on this application.
Or for instance, when I visit a folder or when I open a keynote file, because this is what I use now to record my episodes, I can drag and drop that keynote file onto the sub projects and the time that I spent in the keynote file will be assigned to that sub project.
There is a small trick with Timing and that is actually holding the Option (⌥) key when dragging an activity onto a project, or subproject.
Because when we do that, so holding the Option (⌥) key, will create a rule, that will match then the application window or the folder name, or the path or the website.
Which means that, in the future, whenever I will reopen the same file or access the same folder, that activity will be then automatically assigned to that project, or subproject.
This is a great feature.
This obviously saves a lot of time, but we have to be careful with this because, if we don’t pay attention and if we assign a rule for sub project when actually, it should apply to other sub-projects, then obviously we need to correct stuff.
But the idea of creating a rule with a drag and drop for me is a really great time saver.
And then talking about rules, you can also manually create them.
So if you right click on a project, you will have access to a Rules section.
And so you can define rules based on the following criteria.
So the domain of a website, for instance, macpreneur.com, regardless of the sub domain, or you can also put a full website URL, so for instance, macpreneur.com/wp-admin and stuff like that.
So that’s for browsing, but also when you use Finder, the file path, so this is a criteria.
Whenever we have application windows or document titles.
Those can be used as criteria as well.
The application title or the application name can be used as a criteria.
And then the device that we use for the activity can also be used as a criteria.
And we can put “and” and “or” so we can have very sophisticated rules to make sure that only the desired activity is automatically attributed or assigned to a given project or sub project.
And for each criteria you can choose between “is”, “is not”, “is like”, “contains”, “begins with”, “ends with”.
So plenty of options to make sure that the rules match what you are looking for.
Now, when we are in this “Activities” view, we can define the time span, so we can decide to see the unassigned activities for today, for this week, et cetera.
If we are in the Today view, and if we have the middle subscription plan called the Expert plan, we also have the ability to simply click on a event coming from the calendar.
So it’s possible to hook or to link our local calendars to Timing.
And so you will see in the Timing application all your calendar events for the day.
And so, instead of assigning several sub things like, I open this file, I access this folder, no, I’m gonna take this one hour block that was in my calendar, click and automatically assign it to a project, which is also a time saver.
In addition to the activities, so the things that we do on our Mac, we can, like with Toggl and Timery, create time entries.
You can say new time entry, and you define the project then add a title, add a note.
Like Timery, you can say five minutes in the past, five minutes in the future, or the last activity stop.
But you can also start timers.
So you have a start button.
What is really specific with Timing, is the possibility to configure an estimated duration, which means that after that chosen duration, you will get a notification on your Mac.
So let’s say you plan on spending an hour doing accounting stuff.
You start the timer, an hour later, it’ll notify you.
Doesn’t mean that it stops the timer, just a notification.
And among all the options, so when you do the estimated duration, you have the 25 minute Pomodoro option as well.
Now in terms of synchronization, like Toggl and Timery, it’s possible to aggregate the activity across multiple devices.
At the base level, just using iCloud synchronization, Timing is able to import ScreenTime data, which means that if you have an iPhone, an iPad, and another Mac connected to the same iCloud account, and you have activated the option to share the ScreenTime activity across all your devices, Timing on your Mac will pull everything you did on your iPhone, on your iPad, and your other Mac.
And this is obviously protected or secured through iCloud.
Now, you can also install Timing on multiple devices.
And let’s say you have Timing on an iMac and you have Timing on a MacBook Pro.
It’s also possible to synchronize the data that was tracked by Timing on both devices.
You can synchronize that via a “Timing Sync” service.
The good news is that the data is then stored on servers in Germany, which means it’s fully compliant with GDPR.
The not-so-good news is that it is not end-to-end encrypted.
The data is encrypted on your device. It is encrypted when it’s going from your device to Timing’s server, and it’s encrypted on Timing’s server.
But the developer, they control and they know the encryption key for the data, which means that if they want to or if they are compelled to, they are able to decrypt the data from the server.
So they can access your data if they need to, or they are obliged to legally.
On a side note that’s not different from the other solution, Toggl is the same, and I would say that Toggl is slightly worse because the data is going through US servers, so it’s not residing on European soil.
So, once you have collected all this data, tracked the time, so you have created the rules, you have assigned the activities to projects.
Then the next step is to analyze the data.
And so they have a very nice statistics panel and you can see then bar charts, donuts.
You can choose the scope: today, this week, this month, this quarter, this year.
You can even say, past 7 days, past 15 days, 30 days, past 90, 365 days.
And you can even customize date ranges.
On top of that, you can also filter by the device, and you can also filter by the activity type.
So let’s say you want to see, web surfing across all your project.
That’s possible through a filter.
Or you could also filter by a specific application.
I’m using Podio for my CRM and so I may be using Podio for a lot of projects and clients.
If I want to get how much time I spent in Podio overall, I can do that using that filter.
And, if you have defined productivity score at the project level, you will get your overall productivity score for the desired period.
On top of that, you can easily create reports. You have two types of reports, simple ones and more advanced ones.
The simple ones, you actually have only seven presets with a limited number of columns.
Having said that, you can always export it as an Excel file, a csv, a pdf, in html, and in JSON format.
And then, you have the advanced reports with more presets, and you have two level grouping for the activities in the report.
So you can say, group the activities by day, then by project. So you don’t need to do that afterwards, in Excel or in Numbers or Google Sheets.
And what the advanced report allows us to have as well is to include the application usage, so the path, the device, and so on.
In terms of pricing, there is no free plan.
There is only a 30 day free trial, and what they offer are three subscription levels.
The base one is called professional.
It starts at 10 euro per month, or 96 euro per year. And there are some limitations.
You can install it only on two Macs.
You cannot pull data from mobile devices.
You cannot create an entry from the calendar.
There are no filters and you only have the basic seven report preset.
So very limited, but a good starting point.
Then comes the Expert plan at 13 euros per month, 120 euro per year.
And, that gives you the ability to pull data from ScreenTime.
You have access to all the reports.
You can click on a calendar event to create a time entry.
You can install then the application on three Macs.
And, this is where you start to have basic scripting support, meaning that you can then start and stop timers via an Apple script..
So it’s not direct Shortcuts support, but if you know how to do Apple Script, which is, I would say a little bit advanced, it’s possible to do.
And finally, the third plan is called Connect.
It’s 18 euro per month and 168 euro per year.
You can install Timing on four Macs.
And it gives you the ability to do team collaboration.
So you need the Connect plan, if you want to track time with your virtual assistant or with other freelancers that you work often with.
This gives you also access to advanced scripting. So using scripting you can manage projects or create projects, archive projects and stuff like that, rename them.
And you also have access to web automation, for instance, through a tool called Zapier,
Timing through Setapp
I have been able to test Timing totally for free, for more than 30 days.
So I didn’t pay anything, but I use it now for the past two and a half months, something like that.
The reason is simple: it’s included in my Setapp subscription.
So what is included is the Timing Expert level but without access to a web portal.
So if you sign up for the Expert level through the Timing website, you have access to a web portal, which means that this is the only way to access your reports and also track time on a iOS device.
So Timing doesn’t have a dedicated iPhone or iPad app, if you want that web portal, you need to buy Timing Expert through Timing.
Now, I didn’t need that, I wanted mostly to test it on the Mac.
I wanted to be able to compare it to Toggl and Timery.
And so, I was happy with the restrictions from the Setapp subscription.
In case you’ve never heard of Setapp, it’s a little bit like Netflix, but for Mac and iOS applications, it’s a alternate Mac App store if you want.
Setapp starts at $9 99 per month, and you are able to install and use more than 240 applications on a single Mac.
If you want to have one Mac and four iOS devices, there is a plan at $12.49 per month.
And the one that I subscribe to is $14.99 per month, and I can then install application on up to four Mac computers and four iOS devices.
Normally, Setapp only offers seven days free trial.
But because I’m a customer , you could test drive it for free for a full month using my referral link.
If you decide to sign up after the trial, I’ll get a free month too, which will simply delay my renewal by one month.
Pros of Timing
To recap, what are the main advantages of Timing?
Well, it’s very approachable.
If you have never done time tracking before and you know how to manage folders and sub folders, and you know how to drag and drop, basically you can do time tracking.
And everything is configurable via a native Mac application,
And it’s also possible to keep data locally on a single Mac if you want to, you are not obliged to use the cloud.
At the same time, it’s possible to import activity via ScreenTime, given that you have the expert plan at the minimum.
You can also automate the assignment of activity to project via rules, that’s, I would say the main benefit of Timing.
In addition to tracking the activity, you can also automatically assign that activity, which is huge.
Again, if you have the Expert plan, you can quickly assign a calendar entry to a project, and you can track time manually if you prefer to.
And if you want to collaborate with others, it’s possible through the Connect plan, which is not available through Setapp, by the way, so it’s only available through the Timing website.
Cons of Timing
On the minus side, there are no native iPhone or iPad app.
So either you use ScreenTime import, or you use a web interface, which means the Expert subscription coming directly from timing .
Then the next one, I think it’s a biggie for me, is the, the main reason why I’ve decided not to switch to Timing, but, it’s very particular.
There is no tagging system, so it’s very hard for me to aggregate data across multiple projects.
So yes, I could do at an application level or folder level, but for me that’s not enough.
I need to be able to see also the type of activity that I do.
So for instance, when I do training for clients, right?
I have the preparation time, I have the actual session time, I have the post session time, I have the travel time.
And so, for the moment, in order to use it with timing, I created subprojects for every client: commute, prepare, session, post session.
And the problem is, even with filters, it’s not possible for me to tell Timing, please show me all the commute time across multiple projects.
That doesn’t work.
So that’s the main reason why I didn’t switch to it.
Another thing, that for me is important, is that there are no native Shortcuts support. So it’s less automation -friendly than Timery.
So, yeah, that’s it for today.
I hope this episode has helped you decide whether you should give Timing a go or not.
If that’s the case, remember that the equivalent of the Expert version minus the web portal is included in Setapp at roughly the same monthly cost.
So if you’d like to test Timing and 240+ more apps for free for a full month instead of just seven days, just visit macpreneur.com/setapp.
So it’s macpreneur dot com forward slash S E T A P P.
And until next time, I’m Damien Schreurs, wishing you a great day.
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