Example of the Emergent Task Timer

Example of the Emergent Task Timer

Example of ETT 02With regards to the Emerging Task Timer, Friðrik Már Jónsson asked:

Is there any chance you could post an example sheet, possibly showing what to do with the area below or what the three boxes in the beginning of each row are for.

Ask and you shall receive! :o) Click on the image to see a larger instructional GIF. This is referring to the wide version, which I have been continuing to tweak.

On a side note:

I’m finding the number of bubbles tedious to deal with.

Also, still trying to figure out a better way of representing the hour markers (probably should center a small box over the divider). From an information design perspective, these kind of alignment decisions reduce the confusion between “node” and “boundary”, which leads to “off-by-one” type errors. FIXED!!!


  1. Joan 18 years ago

    What if your hours were bubbles (or circles) and you filled them in by quarters?  (don’t know how to comment a graphic to you.)


  2. Dave Seah 18 years ago

    I think you’d loose the linearity of the display (which is the main reason I’m using bubble to begin with). It’s not so much the number of bubbles, but the correlating of a bubble row with a specific column. It’s not an issue with the task progress tracker, because each line item is cumulative: it’s easy to just add another bubble on the end. However, with this graph, the need to correlate two axis simultaneously makes it more difficult to do. It’s not super hard, but hard enough to make it a little annoying.

  3. cristinamarie 18 years ago

    If I ever did something like that, the statistics would be bar none.  I try and stay connected as possible.  I work about 35 hours a week and with very little time to myself, I e-mail (rarely, I do) when need be and don’t even bother with instant messaging.

  4. Mattbob 18 years ago

    This is awesome Dave! I just realized how much time I waste checking email/blogs/forums etc. The CSS Reboot is coming up soon so I’m trying to be more efficient when I work. This helps me do just that. You’ve done it again! Thanks!

  5. Friðrik Már Jónsson 18 years ago

    Wow, thanks a lot for that!  It all makes sense now.  And pretty clever of you, if I might add.

  6. Derek Featherstone 18 years ago

    That’s great, Dave, but what about something for those people that need more than 12-13 hours of timeslots in a day? Hmmm? :)

  7. Dave Seah 18 years ago

    Heh…the reason I chose 12 was because you could easily just have two sheets to cover the whole 24-hour period :-) Which is actually what I’m doing.

  8. Mauricio Espinosa 18 years ago

    Nice tool Dave. Can you add a space to write what is the main goal for the day and a check bubble to indicate if it was reached or not? Tracking how we use our time is very important but, if at the end of the day, we were busy but not effective something is wrong. On the other hand with few modifications, adding another bubble per section, this form can be used as a project planning tool. Instead of days at the top you will put weeks and the task column will be now for activities to be done. With this you can use the form to set and track project activities (like a simple gantt chart).

  9. Dave Seah 18 years ago

    Good ideas, Mauricio! For project planning I use the Task Progress Tracker (though it’s not a per-day tracker), and for achieving certain overall goals I use the Concrete Goals Tracker. Sometimes I’ll do the menu of the day if I’m thinking of a set of coordinated tasks. This sheet is more of a daily awareness focusing tool.

    For the main goal of the day, you might just fill in the “memo” field (it’s in the wide version).

  10. psg 18 years ago

    dave, once again, you ROCK! as my first day “back” to reality after 8 days of .. stress .. this is really helpful .. i actually did 5 minutes of something i’d been procrastinating which really really needed to be done.

    we’ll see what else gets pushed through.

    now to get through 8+ days worth of email and rss. most has been tossed/processed, but there’s a ton left. :)

  11. Johannes Kleske 18 years ago

    Thanks for the example. It really helps to get how the timer works in praxis.

  12. Lazlo 18 years ago

    I’ve been using the Emergent Task Timer for several days now and am loving it but have one request: could you maybe add two (very faint) horizontal lines to each bubble, breaking them up into three five-minute sections for those times when a million things are happening at once?  It’d be a helpful data point to keep track of when things seem to get a little scattered.

    Thanks for all these great forms, I’m finding them really helpful.

  13. Dave Seah 18 years ago

    Hey Lazlo: Interesting idea! The way I handle that scenario is use slashes to specify that. If I revisit something twice, I put two slashes (/ then , creating an X). That’s enough for me to quickly note that I’m not focused on the main task I should be doing (I just outline it so I know which one it is).

    What I like about the slashes is that I don’t have to really focus on carefully filling in the bubble…filling in thirds or quarters would get tedious, and if you slop too much outside the lines it would give a false impression of how much time you did spend, creating false variances in the data. Using slashes, though, at least help you see how the time has been diffused from the main bubble (I fill it in solidly).

  14. Dave Seah 18 years ago

    Hm, actually I think I will add those lines :-)

  15. Lazlo 18 years ago

    Thanks, Dave.  I use the TimeTracker spreadsheet as my system of record for the monthly metrics reports my manager needs. It works really well when I can devote long unbroken chunks of time to each individual project, but it’s unwieldy when I’m bouncing around a lot from task to task.  The ETT is perfect for recording this kind of work pattern (an emergent use of the emergent task timer!) and I can still just dump the information from the individual sheets into the TimeTracker at the end of the week.  The extra lines will help—filling in little bubbles is very soothing. :-)