Chrometa is a shiny new way for team members and professionals to track their time. The idea behind Chrometa is that it lets you keep tabs on what you did throughout the day and how long you spent doing it, but without the tedious spreadsheets and timers. It sits in your system tray unobtrusively and watches what you do. It then collects all of this data and then presents it to you for your perusal, tagging and analysis. Overall, Chrometa is a refreshing alternative to the manual labor that usually goes into keeping a timesheet. But is it worth the $19/month? Read on to find out.
There are two main aspects of this program. First, is the collection of your data. It does this automatically by recording which window you are focused on. It captures the entire program name and window title bar. For example, if you were using Google Chrome to access reivews.r-tt.com, the entry would read “Online technology reviews at R-TT | Google Chrome.” Each entry is timestamped from start to finish, along with the duration.
One nice feature offered by Chrometa that appears unique to the service is the tracking of idle time. This, thankfully, is done automatically, too. Say, you leave your computer 30 minutes and return. Chrometa detects that you were idle and then greets you with a message asking you what you were doing while you were gone. There are a couple presets, such as “phone call” or “lunch break,” but you can add your own as well. This is a very clever feature—and for some, horrifyingly illuminating.
Once an hour, Chrometa uploads your information to your web-based dashboard. Here, you can sort your entries by time, keyword, category, program, etc. You can also go through and tag and categorize items and delete irrelevant entries. Further, you can add manual entries for the rare item that Chrometa didn’t pick up on.
Although Chrometa does its very best to make your time tracking experience as hands off as possible, to get the most mileage out of the service you will have to spend some time categorizing your entries. You can do so by corralling them under clients and projects. The workflow is simple—doing an entire day’s worth shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
Better yet, you can set up rules that will automatically categorize entries. For example, you can always tell it that Outlook is work-related, and that YouTube never is. You can also setup search strings. For example, you could give a client a nickname tag—such as JBCO—and affix that to all of the filenames you work on for that client. That way, it’ll make it easier to sort by rules later. You can also keep track of billable hours, as well as personal time.
Once you’ve organized all your entries, you get to see it all parsed out in pie charts, graphs and the usual suspects of analysis.
Chrometa is completely web-based. That means you’ll need an Internet connection to get the most out of it. For most, that’s not a problem, but if you are on the road often or have a restrictive work network infrastructure, Chrometa’s reliance on the web may be restrictive. It would be nice if there were at least some local record keeping.
Also, Chrometa works incredibly well for those who keep their work to a handful of applications and/or website. But for those with more generalist professions who hop around from page to page and use the same tools for multiple clients, Chrometa will be a little less intuitive in terms of sorting things out. You’ll have a lot of less than one minute entries—you can ignore these, if you want, but then you might miss how your time gets nickeled and dimed away.
Overall, Chrometa is a very nice tool. It would be better if there was a free version, rather than just 30-day trial, but if your time is valuable, then Chrometa will be priceless.