Track Time with timebook

Dmitri Popov

Productivity Sauce

Apr 02, 2009 GMT
Dmitri Popov

Time tracking tools are a dime a dozen these days, so what makes timebook so special? Two things: tiny size and simplicity. This command-line time tracking utility requires hardly any resources at all and it's extremely easy to get to grips with. timebook is written in Python, and it's pretty easy to install. Download the archived version of the utility and unpack it. In the terminal, switch to the resulting directory, and run the python setup.py install command as root.

Using timebook is also pretty straightforward. The utility uses timesheets for grouping timing sessions. For example, you can create a timesheet called "writing" for all your writing activities using the switch command:

t switch writing

If a timesheet by this name doesn't exist, timebook creates it; otherwise it makes the existing timesheet active. The in command lets you then start a new timing session, or activate an existing one, for example:

t in timebook article 1st draft

The command above creates a new timing session called "timebook article 1st draft". This session is considered active until you stop it using the out command:

t out

To view all sessions in the current timesheet, you can use the display command:

t display

This command shows a detailed list of all timing sessions, including date, start and end time as well as total time.

While timebook doesn't include any reporting capabilities, it allows you to export timesheet data to the CSV format so you process them in other applications like OpenOffice.org Calc. To export data from a specific timesheet (e.g., writing), use the format command as follows:

t format writing

Other useful commands include kill (deletes a specified timesheet), list (lists all timesheets), and now (prints the current timesheet).

Obviously, timebook won't replace a full-blown time tracking tool, but it can come in handy when you need to quickly record the time you spend on a particular job or project with minimum fuss and overhead.

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