What is better? An external desk accessory that communicates with your Mac to track the time you spend on tasks and pleasure? Or an app that requires you to start and stop timers, or even an app that captures your activities, catalogues them per your instructions and – when everything’s been set up to your satisfaction — does away with having to start/stop anything yourself?
The Bluetooth desk accessory of the Timeular task tracking solution communicates with your Mac to track the time you spend on tasks and promises to make time tracking more efficient and fun.
The company that developed the Timeular device thinks you’re best off with their octagonal desk accessory that you place on one of its sides to start tracking one of the eight possible tasks to track. The device itself is powered by a small lithium cell that lasts for about a year and contains a built-in gyroscope that registers the side that is up when you remove the device from its cradle. It’s always on, meaning it goes to sleep when not in use and wakes up when you start using it.
The sides are writeable with a non-permanent marker that is delivered with the device and tasks that you write on the sides can be erased with the eraser that’s also in the box. You also receive a number of sticker labels with icons that you can stick to the sides, e.g. a phone symbol for when you need to track a phone call with someone.
My month-long experience with the device is that it works as advertised, makes tracking time more fun, but not necessarily much more efficient – I doubt anything non-automatic can take out the weakest link; we ourselves. I found it just as easy to forget to turn on the device as with an app and in some cases – on my desk at least – the device just sits in the way. I ended up moving it around a lot and finally deciding to place it somewhere safe… and unused. Also, I had the tendency to start playing with it when on the phone, rotating the device which, of course, activates other sides than the one with the task that you’ve started tracking in the first place.
Still, there are a start-of-day reminder and a reminder after a number of user-definable minutes that you can set, but that still assumes that you’ll need to remember turning it on after a pause or when you’ve stopped using it for a while throughout the day.
Timeular requires you to subscribe to one of two levels. There’s a free level that offers basic tracking, a second level that offers data export and – more importantly – integration with a few other apps, including your Calendar app. A third level really is just a lifelong subscription.
The app logs you into the company’s servers where most of the data analysis that tells you how you spend your time takes place. I’m sure they’re extremely careful with your data as they’re a European firm, but some people will still be wary of sharing tracking data with others. In my opinion, you should at the very least be able to export data to a CSV-file locally, without the need for any sort of network connection or subscription.
The integration, even with your desktop calendar app, and data export capabilities depend on a subscription of €7/month on a yearly basis. Without integration, the system is very limited in its abilities to give insight into your working day. The Timeular device itself costs €99; with a subscription, it costs €49 + the subscription itself. A lifelong subscription costs €49 + €299.