Time planning

Some notes relating to time tracking and budgeting.

See also

A time budgeting workflow

A summary of Simon's 2018-2019 time budgeting workflow:

I keep a hledger timedot file open in a text-mode Emacs in a drop-down iTerm hotkey window.

Each 15-minute chunk is logged with a dot. I group the dots into hours for quick visual scanning. I use comments as temporary reminders, if needed. Sometimes I use M-x align-regexp, [.;] to line up the dots (or comments)

fos.hledger.sup          .
adm.email                ..
adm.finance              .... .... ..
fos.hledger.issues.941   .... .
fos.plaintextaccounting  ; 1045
biz.dev                  ; do such and such

I've trained myself to update this often while at the computer, and before walking away. If I forget, retroactive logging is also pretty easy. These help:

  • work in quarter/half/whole hour chunks, preferably synced with the clock
  • have a script or updating terminal pane showing today's sleep/wake/timelog-saved times, to jog the memory.

Not every day is the same; this system has been quick and flexible enough to suit a range of conditions.

How to set up a time budget

I can set daily/weekly/monthly time budgets if I want:

  • create a time.journal which includes your (timedot or timeclock) time log file (assuming you're not tracking time in journal format)
    # time.journal
    include time.timedot
  • choose a budget interval, eg daily, weekly or monthly
  • if you have some historical timelog data, review average spending on that interval to get a baseline
    $ hledger -f time.journal date:thisyear bal -WA
  • in time.journal add a periodic transaction rule to allocate budget amounts, similar to baseline, on that interval
    ~ weekly
        (adm:time)       1h
        (ser:some:proj)  4h
  • run a budget report, using the same interval:
    $ hledger -f time.journal bal --budget -W
    Balance changes in 2017/11/27w48:
                ||     2017/11/27w48 
    adm:time      || 0.25h [25% of 1h] 
    ser:some:proj || 0.75h [19% of 4h] 
                ||             1.00h 

Simon's hledger time dashboard (2018)

Here's how I have been logging time for a few years. I have four files:

  1. time-2018.timedot is the current year's time log. It contains daily entries in timedot-ish format, like:

    adm.email             20m
    inc.client1.enh.1342  .... .
    inc.client1.enh.1188  .
    inc.client1.enh.1335  ..
  2. time.journal is in journal format so it can include multiple timedot file(s) and provide an account alias allowing period instead of colon in account names:

    ; allow . as subaccount separator in timedot files
    alias /\./=:
    ;include time-2016.timedot
    ;include time-2017.timedot
    include time-2018.timedot
  3. time-daily.budget defines some daily goals, optionally date-bounded, using periodic transaction(s):

    ~ daily  ; [from Y/M/D] [to Y/M/D]
        (adm)    1  ; your goals here
        (inc)    1
        (fos)    1
  4. time-weekly.budget defines some weekly goals. I like to set these independently of the above, which in current hledger means they must be in a separate file:

    ~ weekly  ; [from Y/M/D] [to Y/M/D]
        (adm)    1
        (biz)    1
        (inc)    1
        (fos)    1

The monthly budget reuses the weekly goals.

I have an iTerm2 Hotkey Window (a terminal that drops down on ALT-space) with six panes:

  1. a bash script showing latest laptop wake/sleep and timelog save times, as a memory aid for time logging:


    (Here's that script, useful only to mac users; please show me something better!):

     # record timelog update times
     export TIMELOG=$HOME/time-2018.timedot
     alias timelogsaved="ls -lT $TIMELOG | cut -d' ' -f8-11"
     alias timelogaccessed="ls -lTu $TIMELOG | cut -d' ' -f8-11"
     alias timelogcreated="ls -lTU $TIMELOG | cut -d' ' -f8-11"
     # show mac sleep/wake & display on/off  events
     alias wakelog="pmset -g log | egrep -E '((Sleep|Wake) +\t|Display is)' | sed -E \
           -e 's/(Notification|Sleep|Wake) *	//' \
           -e 's/is turned //' \
           -e 's/Entering Sleep state/Sleep/' \
     # show recent wakeup/timelog save times to help with time logging, clipped to screen width
     # The width clipping is to help watch display this in dashboard.
     function tlog()
       ( wakelog | tail -$LINES
         printf " \n"
         printf "$(timelogcreated) timelog created\n"
         printf "$(timelogsaved) timelog saved\n"
         printf "$(timelogaccessed) timelog accessed\n"
       ) | cut -c-$(expr $COLUMNS - 1)
     # run a brief tlog report periodically, passing any args to watch
     function tlogwatch()
       watch -t -n60 [email protected] "bash -ic 'tlog '$LINES"
     # TODO why does "tlogwatch 10" give "sh: 10: command not found" ?
  2. a text-mode emacs for updating the time log:

    emacs -nw time-2018.timedot
  3. -5: updating (using entr) time budget reports for the current day/week/month, using hledger 1.9.1+:

    ls time.journal time-2018.timedot time-daily.budget  | entr sh -c 'clear; hledger -f time.journal -f time-daily.budget  bal --budget -1 -D date:today-tomorrow'
    ls time.journal time-2018.timedot time-weekly.budget | entr sh -c 'clear; hledger -f time.journal -f time-weekly.budget bal --budget -1 -W date:thisweek-nextweek'
    ls time.journal time-2018.timedot time-weekly.budget | entr sh -c 'clear; hledger -f time.journal -f time-weekly.budget bal --budget -1 -M date:thismonth-nextmonth'
  4. an updating hledger-ui for exploring time usage (shift-up/down to resize period, shift-left/right to step through time, t to return to today):

    hledger-ui --watch --change date:today -f time.journal