3.6. Working with time entries

3.6.1. About time entries

A time entry represents the time spent doing something for a task. It is defined by a start time, elapsed time, pause time and a finish time. If you work from 09:00 AM until 11:00 AM and you take two 15 minutes breaks, the elapsed time will be 1:30 hours and the pause time will be 0:30 hours.

Time entries have the following properties:

  • Project: The project where you want to record the time.

  • Task: The task where you want to record the time. The task is mandatory as you can only record time on tasks.

  • Date: The date when the time entry is recorded.

  • Start: The time when the activity started.

  • Time: Work time.

  • Pause: Break time.

  • Finish: The time when the activity ended. Finish = Start + Time + Pause.

  • Units [optional]: The number of units done if the activity is quantifiable. For instance, translators may want to record the number of translated words to correlate them to the actual time spent to translate them. This field is optional because most people don't need to track time for quantifiable activities. See this section for more details.

  • Description: A small description of what the time entry is about.

  • Tags [optional]: A list of zero or more tags separated by commas. Tags can also help you organize time entries. See this section for more details.

Depending on how you want to enter time, Fanurio lets you choose how to do it.

  • Relatively to start: You enter the start time and the elapsed time and then Fanurio calculates the end time by adding the elapsed time to the start time.

  • Relatively to finish: You enter the elapsed time and the finish time and then Fanurio calculates the start time by subtracting the elapsed time from the end time.

  • Both: You enter the start and finish times and then Fanurio calculates the elapsed time by subtracting the start time from the finish time.

If a task is billable, its time entries are billable by default but they can be marked as non-billable.

  • Billable: When checked, it indicates that the time entry is billable. Billable tasks can have both billable and non-billable time entries.

  • Billable Time: When checked, it allows users to specify an explicit amount of billable time for the time entry. See this section for more details.

3.6.2. Configuring optional fields

Because time entries have many fields and because not all fields are relevant to all users, you can hide optional fields that you don't use. Optional time entry fields are fields that can be hidden in the time entry windows (New Time or Edit Time). Here's how you can configure them:

  1. Create a new time entry (New Time) or edit an existing one (Edit Time).

  2. Click the Configure button from the bottom-left corner.

  3. Check the fields that you want to be visible and uncheck the ones that you want to hide.

  4. Click Done. Fanurio will update the time entry window to show only selected fields.

For instance, one of the optional fields is Tags. This field only makes sense if you need to organize your time entries using tags.

3.6.3. Recording time manually

Whether you forget to record time or you are not in the front of the computer most of the day, you can always record time manually. Please note that you can only add time to a task and not directly to a client or a project.

There several ways you can add time to a task:

  1. Go to Business » New Time to add time to the currently selected task. If no task is selected, you will have to specify one. This is probably the fastest way to enter time in Fanurio.

  2. Go to the Timesheet view and use the New button. When you use this method and the date filter is set to a specific date, time is added by default to that date. This method is very useful if you need to enter time for previous dates as it saves you from specifying the date for each time entry.

  3. Open a project and select the task where you want to add time. Then right-click it and select New Time from the contextual menu.

  4. Edit a task and go to the Time section to add time to that task.

Time fields accept time in both hour and decimal format. Here are a few input examples:

  • 2:30 - enter the number of hours and minutes.

  • :30 - enter the number of minutes.

  • 2.5 or 2,5 - enter the number of hours.

  • .5 or ,5 - enter the number of hours.

  • 2 - enter the number of hours.

The major drawback of manual time recording is that you need to remember the times and duration of each task. That's why a better method to track time for your activities is to use a timer.

3.6.4. Recording time with timers

Tracking time is a lot easier when you have a timer. Unlike manual time recording, a timer will save you the trouble of remembering the exact time when you started, stopped or paused a task.

Fanurio can manage multiple timers but only one can be active, all the other timers are paused. When a new timer is started, the active one is paused and the new one becomes active. This feature is very useful if you start working on something (task A) and then you get a call from a client that forces you to interrupt what you were doing and work on something else (task B). In this case, you start a timer for task A and then when the client calls, you pause the timer (interrupt task A) and you start a new one for task B. When task B is over, you stop its timer and save the time. Then you can resume the timer for task A.

Since a timer is an important tool, Fanurio provides several ways to access it. You can access the timer from:

  • the Timer menu,

  • the toolbar,

  • the tray icon menu,

  • the iTunes-like mini timer,

  • the taskbar button's thumbnail toolbar on Windows 7 or

  • using global hotkeys on Windows and Linux.

The following actions can be used to control the timers from one of the places mentioned above:

  • Start New Timer: This action starts a new timer. If a project is open and a task is selected, Fanurio will start a timer for that task.

    If a timer is already active (paused or running), that timer will be paused and the new one will become active.

  • Start New Timer...: This action lets you start the timer for a specified task and attach a description to it. When the timer will be stopped, Fanurio will add time to this task with the specified description. If a project is open and a task is selected, Fanurio will suggest to start the timer for that task.

    If a timer is running and a new one is started in the past, the active timer will be paused in the past and the new one will be started from that time. Let's suppose you are working on task A and a client calls. In the middle of the call, you realize that you want to time the conversation so you start a new timer but since you already started the phone conversation 10 minutes ago, you want to start the timer in the past, 10 minutes ago. Doing so will pause the timer for task A 10 minutes ago.

  • Start New Timer >: This action lets you start a new timer for one of the recent tasks.

  • Timers: If you started at least one timer, this action shows all the timers. When you select one of the timers, it automatically becomes active and it's resumed. Recent timers are at the top of the list.

    The Timers action from the toolbar also shows the number of timers using a badge icon so you can easily see how many timers you have started.

  • Pause / Resume Timer: This action pauses or resumes the active timer.

  • Pause / Resume Timer...: This action pauses or resumes the active timer in the past.

  • Stop Timer: This action stops the active timer and opens a New Time window to save the recorded time.

  • Edit Timer: This action lets you change the task and the description of the active timer. It also shows the time when it was started, the elapsed time and the pause time.

  • Discard Time...: This action discards time from the active timer.

    For instance if you started a timer one hour ago but at some point you took a 15 minutes break, you can use this action to discard this time and keep the timer running. Once you do that, the timer will show it's running for 45 minutes instead of one hour.

  • Transfer Time...: This action discards time from the active timer and saves it to a task.

    For instance if you started a timer one hour ago but at some point you did something else for 15 minutes, you can use this action to discard this time and to add it to the task you've been working on. Once you do that, the timer will show it's running for 45 minutes instead of one hour.

The state of the timers is saved regularly on disk just in case there's a power outage and the application is terminated prematurely. If this happens, the timers will be restored the next time Fanurio will be restarted.

Important: If you are not recording time in seconds, Fanurio will round the time recorded by a timer to the nearest minute when it's stopped. For instance:

  • If the timer shows 01:29:15 (1 hour, 29 minutes and 15 seconds) then this time will be rounded down to 01:29:00 (1 hour, 29 minutes).

  • If the timer shows 01:29:35 (1 hour, 29 minutes and 35 seconds) then this time will be rounded up to 01:30:00 (1 hour, 30 minutes).

Although a timer is a major improvement over manual time recording, it's worthless if you don't remember to use it. When you have lots of work on your head, paying extra attention to a timer is the last thing you want to do. That's why Fanurio has smart timing, an even better method to track time.

3.6.5. Using reminders to control the active timer (smart timing)

A timer is useless if you don't remember to use it. To solve this problem, Fanurio has a few reminders to help you start, resume or stop a timer. Instead of relying on your memory and attention to control the timer, you can use these reminders. We call this feature smart timing.

Smart timing is not enabled by default. You have to enable it from:

  • Tools » Options on Windows

  • Fanurio » Preferences on Mac OS X

  • Edit » Preferences on Linux

Smart timing is how Fanurio figures out what you are doing in order to record time accurately. It uses idle time detection and a set of reminders to do that.

  1. Reminders: If you are working on the computer, Fanurio doesn't know what you are doing but if you enable smart timing, it will try to learn that from you. Fanurio can ask you repeatedly (you can specify the frequency) what you want to do with the timer.

    • If no timer is running, it will ask you if you want to start one or if you want to do it later.

    • If the active timer is paused, it will ask you if you want to resume it or if you want to do it later.

    • If the active timer is running, it will ask you if you want to stop it or if you want to leave it running.

  2. Idle time detection: One thing Fanurio can figure out without asking is if you leave the computer while the timer is running. In this case it will ask you to do something with the time you've been away.

As we said, smart timing is about figuring out what the user is doing. If the timer is stopped, Fanurio will try to learn whether it should be started or not. The same happens when the timer is paused or if it's running.

To understand how smart timing works, let's see the following examples.

Example 3.1. Reminder that the timer is running

Let's assume the reminder is set to 10 minutes and the timer is already running for 32 minutes. Since I started the timer, Fanurio asked me three times (at 10, 20 and 30 minutes) if I want to stop it or if I want to keep it running. Each time I just pressed ESC to cancel the reminder dialog and to keep the timer running.

The fourth time when it asks me (at 40 minutes), I realize I finished working on my task and I choose to stop the timer. I will assign 40 minutes to the task I was working on.

Tip

When the reminder dialog is displayed, you can postpone the decision by pressing ESC.


Example 3.2. Idle time notification

Let's assume idle time notification is set to 10 minutes. That means Fanurio will notify me if I'm away from the computer for more than 10 minutes.

I start the timer and after 40 minutes I leave the computer for a coffee break. When I return after 15 minutes, I see a notification dialog where Fanurio asks me what to do with these 15 minutes. I decide to discard them. The timer will continue to run and to show it's been started 40 minutes ago instead of 55. The 15 minutes I've been away are considered pause time.

Besides Discard, the idle notification dialog has two other options: Transfer and Keep. Use Transfer if you've worked on something else in the meanwhile (a client was on the phone for instance) and Keep if you've been working on the same thing but you didn't touch the computer.

Tip

To tell Fanurio that you want to keep the time and leave the timer running, you can also press ESC or ENTER.


Best practices

  • Adjust the idle time interval if you take shorter breaks. It is set to 15 minutes by default.

  • Make sure the reminders are not too frequent as they may become annoying.

    If you usually do long tasks, you don't want to be reminded each 10 minutes that the timer is running. You could set the reminder to 20 or 30 minutes.

  • Use only those reminders that you find useful. You don't have to enable all the reminders.

3.6.6. Recording time to the second

By default, Fanurio tracks time in minutes but it can be configured to track time in seconds if you need that kind of precision. To enable this feature, check the "display time with seconds" box in the settings window.

  • Tools » Options+Locale on Windows

  • Fanurio » Preferences+Locale on Mac OS X

  • Edit » Preferences+Locale on Linux

This setting configures Fanurio to display seconds for the selected time format. For instance, if Fanurio is configured to use the 12-hour time format, it displays 09:30:10 AM when seconds are enabled and 09:30 AM when seconds are not enabled.

When the time format is configured to display seconds, Fanurio also displays durations in seconds. For instance, if a time entry starts at 09:30:10 AM and ends at 09:50:40 AM then the duration is 00:20:30 (20 minutes and 30 seconds). By durations we mean durations visible in the user interface (tables, input fields, etc), invoices and reports except for QuickBooks reports (*.iif) because they accept only durations in hours and minutes.

Important: Once you enable this feature, you shouldn't disable it because existing time entries will lose their seconds when edited.

3.6.7. Recording quantifiable activities

Time entries allow you to record the time you spend doing something. For some people, that something is a quantifiable activity that needs to record both the time and the quantity so they can analyze their productivity.

For instance, when translating a text from Latin to Greek in 1.5 hours some people may also want to record how many words it has. If the text is 600 words long, Fanurio can show that they've translated 400 words / hour and that it took them 9 seconds to translate one word. These stats allow users to see how they perform over time and make better estimates in the future.

To enable this feature, please follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Timesheet view.

  2. Double-click an existing time entry to edit it (or click to create a new one). This will display the Edit Time window.

  3. Click the Configure button from the bottom-left corner to show the list of optional fields.

  4. Check the Units box to enable it and click Done. This will display a new field called Units in the Edit Time window.

  5. Click Done to close the Edit Time window.

Then you also need to configure the table to display the new field:

  1. Right-click any column name from the Timesheet table. This will display a contextual menu with all the table columns.

  2. Click Select Columns from the contextual menu. This allows you to configure which columns are visible.

  3. Check the columns Units, Units/Hour and Time/Unit.

  4. Click Done to make the columns visible.

The table footer displays the total for the Units column and averages for the Units/Hour and Time/Unit columns. By using the Date filter available above the Timesheet table, you can easily see productivity stats (Units/Hour and Time/Unit) for the day, week or month.

Important: Once you enable this feature, the Start New Timer window will also display a Units field.

3.6.8. Billing time

To bill time, you need to add one or more billable time entries to a billable task. The task defines the pricing for all its time entries.

Time entries added to a billable task are billable by default but you can change them to non-billable if you don't want to bill them.

A time entry can track both the actual recorded time and the billable time. This allows you to control the amount of time that is billed to the customer without losing the actual recorded time. It also allows you to create accurate performance reports using the actual recorded time and detailed customer reports using the billable time.

A time entry that took 22 minutes to complete could be billed as 0 minutes, 22 minutes or 30 minutes, it's up to you to decide how much time you want to bill. However, deciding how much billable time to enter for each time entry can be a pain. That's why each time entry has a default billable time that is calculated using its task settings.

If you're billing by the hour, setting a time rounding rule for the task is the best solution to calculate billable time automatically. If you want to change the billable time manually, you can override the default value and enter the actual amount of time you want to bill.

Here's how the default billable time is calculated:

  • For time entries added to tasks billed in units: default billable time = recorded time

    recorded time = 12 minutes => default billable time = 12 minutes

  • For time entries added to tasks billed in hours without rounding: default billable time = recorded time

    recorded time = 12 minutes => default billable time = 12 minutes

  • For time entries added to tasks billed in hours with rounding for each time entry: default billable time = rounded recorded time

    recorded time = 12 minutes (each rounded up to 15 minutes) => default billable time = 15 minutes

  • For time entries added to tasks billed in hours with rounding for the sum of all time entries: default billable time = a fraction of the rounded task time

    recorded times = [12 minutes, 24 minutes] (sum rounded up to 30 minutes) => default billable times = [20 minutes, 40 minutes]

    For this type of rounding, the default billable time can't be changed by users because time entries are handled as a group and not individually.

3.6.9. Using tags to organize time entries

When you record a time entry, you need to have a client, a project and a task. For some people this solution is all they need to organize their time entries but others want more flexibility.

You can associate one or more tags to a time entry in the Tags field. They have to be separated by commas (eg: tag1,tag2,tag3). Once you have one or more entries with tags, you can then filter them in the Timesheet view. Just click the small arrow icon from the search field to tell it that you want to search by tags.

Tags are useful if you want to track time for multiple persons. You could use a tag for each person to know who did what.

3.6.10. Searching and filtering time entries

To learn more about the time you record in Fanurio, go to the Timesheet view and use the filters above the time entries table. The table will display only those time entries that match the selected filters. Time can be filtered by:

  • client status (any, active, not active),

  • project status (any, active, suspended, cancelled, finished),

  • task status (any, completed, not completed),

  • invoiced status (any, invoiced, uninvoiced),

  • billing status (any, billable, not billable) and

  • date.

Once you set these filters, the table footer will display the total of all visible time entries. For instance, you could use these filters to see how much time you've recorded on a date, week or month.

The table can also be filtered using a search field that can search by:

  • description,

  • tag,

  • client;project;task and

  • invoice.

The client;project;task option allows you to filter time entries by client, project, or task name.

If you have a client called Aristotle with a project called Rhetoric and a task called Proofreading the manuscript, just type Aristotle;Rhetoric;Proofreading the manuscript and it will display this exact task. If you type Aristotle it will display all time entries for this client whereas if you type ;Rhetoric it will display all time entries for the project. The semicolon is very important as it helps Fanurio distinguish between fields.

3.6.11. Creating time reports

The previous section explains how you can filter or search the list of time entries so you can get a quick insight about your time. However, if you need to use this information outside Fanurio you can either export the list of time entries as a CSV or Excel file or create a time report. Time reports are more flexible because they allow you to use a template to format data.

Go to Reports » Time Report to create a report for your time. Just like in the Timesheet view, you can use several filters to specify which time entries should be included in the report:

  • Projects specifies the projects included in the report.

  • Date specifies the date interval when time was recorded.

  • Billing specifies whether the report should include billable or non-billable time entries.

  • Invoiced specifies whether the report should include invoiced or uninvoiced time entries.

Fanurio comes with a set of default templates that can be selected from the Template drop-down box:

  • Time Statistics displays various time statistics and charts like:

    • total recorded time,

    • number of working days,

    • average time per working day,

    • billable vs non-billable time,

    • invoiced vs uninvoiced time,

    • hours by date, month or year depending on the report interval,

    • top clients, projects and task categories, and

    • distribution of time across clients, projects and task categories.

  • Timelog shows the recorded time in detail and in chronological order.

    You may want to use it at the end of the day to see what you did. Please note that you can get a similar result if you go to the Timesheet view and restrict visible time entries to today.

  • Timelog by Date shows the recorded time in detail and in chronological order but time entries are grouped by date.

    This template is similar to Timelog except that it groups time entries by date and it displays subtotals for each date.

  • Time Summary by Task and Date displays time totals by task and date.

    You may want to use this template at the end of the week to see how much time you worked each day and on which tasks.

  • Time Summary by Task and Week displays time totals by task and week.

    You may want to use this template at the end of the month to see how much time you worked each week and on which tasks.

  • Time Summary by Task and Month displays time totals by task and month.

    You may want to use this template at the end of the year to see how much time you worked each month and on which tasks.

  • Timelog by Client, Project and Task shows how much time was spent on each project, in detail.

    Time entries are grouped by client, project and task.

  • Timelog by Date, Client, Project and Task shows how much time was spent on each day by project.

    This template is a combination of Timelog by Date and Timelog by Client, Project and Task. For each day, it shows time entries grouped by client, project and task.

If you need to create your own templates, please see this section to learn what placeholders you can use.