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Time Tracking posts:

Harvest Mobile Timesheet, Beta

Since the beginning of this year, we have been working on an ambitious project to re-think and re-imagine the most critical part of Harvest: the timesheet. We’re close to having something to show you. The first piece that will be ready is the new mobile view, which you can now sign up for beta testing.

Overhauling Six Years of Technology

The Harvest timesheet you use today went through a redesign over two years ago. The code is about six years old (as old as our business), improved and patched up over the years. This time we are building a completely new timesheet from scratch.

There aren’t any major problems with the timesheet today. In fact, the most common feedback we hear from our customers is that they love Harvest’s simple and beautiful design. But we’re not satisfied with it. We, as designers and developers, have evolved over the years, so has the web as a platform, and its technology. We are not improving the timesheet just to make it new. We believe we can create an even simpler and faster experience.

Why Mobile?

For the new timesheet, we decided to start mobile. To us, it’s also the most interesting platform to design against: with its small screen and natural restrictions, we are forced to be more disciplined with what we can show and do on screen. We also believe that timesheet should be mobile; it’s an activity that should not be chained to your desktop, and the information should be simple, succinct and clear, at a glance, on a tiny screen.

Mobile is the least intrusive way to experiment with a new technology without affecting our customers. We’re using a radically different way of building the new mobile timesheet (based on Backbone.js) – Dee, our main developer for the new timesheet, will write a more in-depth article about how the new timesheet is built. There is a lot going on behind the timesheet’s deceptively simple user interface. The goal here is to make it super fast and responsive (by that, I don’t mean being responsive with the layout, but responsive in terms of feedback to the users).

Looking Ahead

The plan is to launch the new mobile beta, to test out the new design and technology. Our hope is that once you start using it, you won’t really notice the difference. It should be smooth and mostly familiar. The changes are subtle: lighter, simpler, clearer, with a couple of tweaks to make time entry even faster. The big changes are all happening behind the scenes. We will be writing a few blog posts to share with you what we did and learned.

We are excited about this project and cannot wait to share it with you.

Harvest Everywhere: Introducing Harvest for Mac

Since launching Harvest in 2006, we have been on a mission to create the best time tracking solution for businesses. We started by launching Harvest as a web-based application, allowing access to your data from anywhere you have an internet connection and a web browser. Once your data is stored in the proverbial cloud, the possibilities become endless. We published the first version of the Harvest API just six months after Harvest launched. While people primarily used web browsers to access Harvest, we strongly believed in creating ways for additional devices and platforms work with your Harvest data.

Over the years, we’ve consistently built on top of Harvest to take advantage of the ever-changing technology available to our customers. We started with lightweight desktop widgets for Mac and Windows users. Later, we built mobile versions of Harvest for iPhone and Android as more customers needed to access Harvest on-the-go.

While Harvest began by providing a great web experience, we will continue to evolve as the technology around us evolves. Underpinning our evolution is the belief that you should be able to access Harvest from anywhere and everywhere. In short, we call this Harvest Everywhere.

Introducing Harvest for Mac

Today, we are pleased to announce the newest component to our Harvest Everywhere vision: Introducing Harvest for Mac, a lightweight, desktop companion for your Harvest account. We built Harvest for Mac with three goals in mind:

  • Lightning Fast Time Tracking – Time tracking is a pain only when it’s inconvenient. We know our users just want to focus on their work and not on time tracking, so we’ve made things super fast. With global hot-keys, Harvest for Mac users will be able to quickly start timers or enter notes and get back to work in seconds.
  • High Visibility – Harvest for Mac sits on your menu bar, keeping you updated on exactly how many minutes you’ve been spending on your current task and helping you focus. Additionally, stopping a timer is as easy as clicking on the “stop” icon in the menubar.
  • Idle Time Detection – Ever rush off to a meeting only to forget to stop your timer? Now when you return to your computer, Harvest for Mac will ask you if you want to keep the time tracked while your computer was idle, or if you want to correct it.

Watch the video to learn more:

Since our entire team tracks time internally, we can say with confidence that Harvest for Mac is a tremendous time saver for those who track time as they work. We hope our Mac users will find tracking hours to be easier than ever with Harvest for Mac.

Download Harvest for Mac (for free)

Quick Time Saving Tips for your Workday

The one resource we all have the same amount of is time – how you spend it defines so much about your life. We’ve assembled a few tips to help you make the most of the time you have in your workday.

Managing your time needs to become a ritual, an ongoing process you follow to keep you focused on your priorities throughout the day.

  • Do all of your invoicing and paperwork in set groups, so that you can pull things out all at once, and put them away more efficiently.
  • Have 2-3 attainable goals for the day. No one is productive w/ endless to do lists.
  • Learn to say no to projects where the time investment outweighs the return.
  • Find the perfect GTD system out there: there are no magic answers, it’s simply the one you trust and use so your mind is free.

Know the strongest times of your work day. If you can match your best times for work with the most intense tasks, and your least productive times with more routine tasks, you’ll get more out of your day.

  • Read emails before leaving for work, mentally process while commuting, then answer on arrival at the office.
  • End your day by making a list of things you want to accomplish the following day.

Budget your time. 

Many thanks to the Twitter community for sharing your own tips for this article. We’ll announce the winners of our Time Savings Tuesdays contest next Tuesday (along with the new contest theme), and feel free to share your own tips in the comments!

Protip: Time Saving Keystrokes

Did you know that it’s 10 times quicker to type a command rather than lift a hand from the keyboard to the mouse? Here’s a few ways to save time with some easy keystrokes!

Some Harvest and Co-op protips, from the Harvest Team:

Everyday keystrokes:

  • Ctrl+F (Win) or Cmd+F (OSX). Finds specific text in the Web page that’s open.
  • Backspace (Win) or Delete (Mac). Makes your browser go back one page.
  • Windows key + first few letters of a program + enter. Start any program from your keyboard. (via @jkenters)
  • Ctrl+z. “People take this feature for granted. Imagine a world with no ctrl+z.” The power of the undo! (via @stevendeeds)
  • Ctrl+s. “Saves (pun intended) me from messing up my files! I’ve set it to Incremental save, so instant traceback!” (via @AdamHoe)
  • Cmd+q. “Sometimes you have to quit and walk away.” (via @weepapa)

If you want to geek out:

Many thanks to the Twitter community for sharing your own tips for this article, we had a great time swapping tips! We’ll announce the winners of our Time Savings Tuesdays contest next Tuesday (along with the new contest theme), and feel free to share your own tips in the comments!

Quick Time Saving Tips For Your Commute

Unless you are working from a home office, most of us leave to go to work. You may be surprised by how much time you actually spend in transit to your job – Time Management Ninja created this quick table (which assumes 8 hour workday, 5 day work week, 50 weeks a year), showing  the difference between a short and long commute:

Save Time

  • Shift your commute to a less travelled time. This means you may come in earlier, but you leave earlier too (avoiding the evening rush!).
  • Skip the commute. See if it’s possible to occasionally work from home.
  • If you drive: use the HOV lane.
  • If you’re based in DC/Virgina and you drive, here’s how ride sharing, a.k.a. slugging works. Being a “slug” saves you money, and being a driver allows you into HOV lanes.
  • On the train or bus, use mobile apps that work offline & sync later, like Evernote.
  • Take the NYC subway? Walk to the spot on the subway train closest to your exit – there’s even an app for that!

Invest in Yourself

  • Make a to-do list of all the personal tasks you need to do that day, to help organize your thoughts.
  • Listen to audiobooks, learn a foreign language, or watch downloaded screencasts on your iPod or mobile device.
  • Save interesting articles on Instapaper, and read from your smartphone while on the train.
  • Knit (only on subways or buses, do not attempt while driving!).
  • Skip work altogether, and unplug – clear your mind to be more efficient during the day.
  • Combine your exercise routine with your commute:  it may make the commute longer, but it may be shorter (and more efficient) than doing both separately.

Many thanks to the Twitter community for sharing your own tips for this article. We’ll announce the winners of our Time Savings Tuesdays contest next Tuesday (along with the new contest theme), and feel free to share your own tips in the comments!

Quick Time Saving Tips For Meetings

Time is money, and meetings are a notorious time sink. Forbes points out that, “a one-hour meeting of six software engineers costs $1,000 at least. People who don’t have the authority to buy paperclips are allowed to call meetings every day that cost far more than that.”

The only way to run (and participate in) efficient and useful meetings is to invest in certain areas, and reduce in others. Last week, we launched our first Time Saving Tuesday, and we’ve combined our own time saving tips with some excellent Twitter suggestions for making meetings most productive.

Remove from your meetings.

  • Get rid of chairs, coffee, donuts, and cell phones. Everyone seems focused on not wasting time when they have to stand, and the number of distractions is limited.
  • Use collaboration tools (like Co-op, IM, or email threads). Quickly solve the questions that don’t need a meeting.
  • Keep meetings on target by using accurate time estimates. It makes people antsy when meetings run over their time limit, so check previous time reports to effectively gauge typical meeting length.
  • Downsize your invitee list. Curate your attendance list wisely.
  • Encourage open (for everyone) and closed (selected participants) portions of meetings, where people who do not have to be at entire meeting can be dismissed. You can share meeting notes with everyone afterwards to review.
  • Create “meeting-free” days, to allow employees to capitalize on focused, uninterrupted concentration.
  • Don’t accept every meeting invite. Says Seth Godin, “Don’t bother having a meeting if you’re not there to change or make a decision right now.”

Invest in your meetings.

  • Define specific goals for the meeting ahead of time, so that you can stay on topic.
  • Have a clear agenda, w/ time budgets for each item, and then enforce those time limits.
  • Offer a way for people to submit questions and ideas in advance of the meeting.
  • Circulate any reading materials before the meeting, and insist that all attendees read them beforehand.
  • Make use of a talk object (a hat, stick, staff, feather, or something else!), so that people can talk freely without having to talk over others.
  • At the end of the meeting, ask for feedback about its efficiency. Keep improving the process!
  • Hire a meeting fairy. This magical person can manage and enforce all of the above suggestions, and keep everyone prepared and informed both before and after meetings.

Many thanks to the Twitter community for your great contributions to this article. We’ll announce the winners of our Time Savings Tuesdays contest tomorrow, and feel free to share your own tips in the comments!

Demand Better

Simply put, a big part of my job is to acquire more Harvest Customers. One approach we’ve been discussing lately is marketing our product to different industry verticals. Yesterday, I stumbled across a time tracking software specifically “designed” for lawyers. Naturally, I watched the demo so that I could see how we stack up. Harvest was the clear winner…by a wide margin. If your law firm uses this particular software, you have multiple (more than 5!) steps to go through each time you want to make a time entry. In other words, it costs time to track your time.

I have asked many lawyers about how they manage their billable hours. Several — not all — record time on scraps of paper or put it into an excel sheet. These time entries get passed along to admins who enter the time into the firms’ systems. Most don’t enter time as they work, rather they go through their calendars when timesheets are due and use memory. Firms are spending thousands of dollars on software that the lawyers don’t use because they don’t like it. These firms are wasting time and money, and missing out on countless billable hours.

Believe me, I understand the inertia that keeps inefficient systems in place. At my last job we used many clunky systems; we were on Lotus Notes until 2011. We all complained, but no one took the time to do anything about it.

As I watched the legal time tracking demo, I got to thinking: why don’t people demand better?

I think it’s because they don’t know that better exists. My epiphany of the day is that my job isn’t to sell Harvest — it’s to educate people that better exists.

Harvest Android Update: Improved Syncing

android-time-tracker

Today we’re announcing a significant update for our Free official Harvest Android app, version 1.3. This update brings improved reliability with your Android phone syncing to your online Harvest account.

We launched our Android app in March of this year. This summer we overhauled the entire syncing engine in our iPhone app with brand new API calls, and now we’ve brought these new API calls to our Android app. They are a much more efficient and reliable way to sync time and expenses on your phone, even on-the-go!

Along with the reliability updates, this version also includes some new features and other improvements, including:

  • Sync button added to Pending tab
  • Project Codes are now displayed
  • ‘Report Issues’ directly from the options menu
  • Various bug fixes
  • New icon

Enjoy, and let us know how the Harvest Android app is working for you. If you’re running into any phone-specific issues, let us know by writing into support.

Visit Android time tracker to learn more and download this companion app for free.

Continue reading…

Timesheet Update: Start Your Week on Saturday, Sunday or Monday

Today, we’re excited to announce the release of one of our most highly-requested features – the ability to start the week on Saturday, Sunday or Monday.

Harvest timesheets have always started on Monday. However, many companies begin their timesheets on Saturday or Sunday, and they approve time weekly based on that start day. It’s been a goal of ours for a while to have Harvest accomodate this worklflow, but we knew that this was a much bigger update than it seemed. Shifting the start day affects all the time a company has entered in Harvest, making it critical that this feature be implemented with the utmost care. With this in mind, we’ve taken every precaution to make sure that a complicated behind-the-scenes switch seems like a simple and seamless one from the Harvest UI.

If your company starts its week on Saturday or Sunday, simply head to Manage > Account Settings and update the Start Week On preference. Harvest Timesheets and Reports will be updated to start the week on the selected day, and timesheets will be approved based on that week.

We hope customizing the start of the workweek makes your Harvest experience even better, and as always, send us your feedback!

Bring Your Base Sales to Harvest

Base (formerly PipeJump) is a small business CRM software package for managing contacts and sales. They recently launched an integration with Harvest, allowing project creation from your “won” deals. With this integration, managing the flow from contact to sales to tracking your project in Harvest is seamless.

See the integration in action, thanks to this screencast provided by Base:

Don’t forget, integrations with Harvest are just an API call away. Do let us know if you are planning an integration, or even if you are just dreaming of one!