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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Review: Simple Task Timer

Simple Task Timer is a program designed to help anyone who works on a computer keep track of the time they devote to any project, task or customer. As such, it is obviously highly relevant to freelance writers.

I was invited to review Simple Task Timer by the publishers, AGWords Ltd, so here are my impressions...

I started by downloading the free 30-day evaluation version from the Simple Task Timer website, which was quite straightforward. Helpfully, the program gives you the option of installing it just for yourself or for anybody who uses your computer.

Before you can start using Simple Task Timer, you have to enter details of at least one customer, one project, and one task. Again, this is straightforward enough once you understand the logic involved. It did, though, take me a few tries before I cottoned on to the fact that you have to enter this data in the order customer - project - task, and save each one before going on to the next.

Once you've entered at least one of each of the above, you can start using Simple Task Timer. This is where the value of the software becomes apparent. Click on the small STT icon in the system tray and a box will open inviting you to select the project and task you are about to work on. Select the one you require and Simple Task Timer will begin timing you, and show how long you have been working and how much you are due (see my sample screenshot, below).

You can, of course, hide the display while you are working and call it back by clicking on the system tray icon. You can also pause the timer at any point, or set it to pause automatically if you haven't done anything on the computer for a pre-set period (the default is 10 minutes).

Those are the bare bones of Simple Task Timer, but it actually does a lot more than that. For starters, it will print out professional-looking invoices for you, including (if you wish) your company logo and other details. Invoices can be set to show exactly what hours you worked and what days, though personally I don't feel my clients need that much information!

Other features include reporting tools which - among other things - will reveal your most profitable tasks and customers, your average hourly rate, the current status of all of your projects, and exactly where your time goes.

Overall, I was impressed with Simple Task Timer. It is a powerful piece of software with many additional features - so much so that the name Simple Task Timer is probably a bit of a misnomer. Of course, not everyone will want to use all of the more advanced features.

My one criticism is that I did think more information could have been provided for new users, including perhaps a 'quick start' guide. As mentioned above, I had to use trial-and-error to grasp what was required when setting up the software, and went around in circles a few times as a result.

Nonetheless, I do think Simple Task Timer is a tool many writers could benefit from. I have therefore negotiated a 20 percent discount for readers of this blog on the full price of the program (value $9.99). And no, I don't receive any commission on sales!

To take advantage of the discount, download the 30-day trial version from the Simple Task Timer website. Once you have decided to buy the full version, run STT and go to the menu Help>License. On the license window select Purchase a license now and click on the Go button.

This will take you to the STT sales site. Enter the coupon code STT-ND01-201004-3443 and click on Go to secure checkout. You should now see the discounted price displayed, along with a message that this is a special price for readers of Nick Daws' blog.

Finally, enter your payment details and click on the Place Your Order button. You should then receive an email with instructions on how to download your license key. Note that the special discount code will only work for 40 days from the date of this blog post, so if you want to take advantage of this offer, don't leave it too long!

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