I was getting pretty fed up with my kitchen timer-based Emergent Task Timer sheet. The sheet itself I like a lot, but I was continuously getting out of sync with my kitchen timer. I sometimes would get lost in my work and forget to mark where I was leaving off between tasks. Very annoying.
To resolve the kitchen timer issue, I put together a quick Flash 8 prototype. Once I got going, I added more of the functionality of the paper-based form and ended up with something that is usable day-to-day. It’s useful enough to release to the public, I think: Emergent Task Tracker Online Tool. This is an alpha-quality release, but I am finding it already useful in my day-to-day.
As this is a functional prototype, a lot of the UI hasn’t yet been worked out and may be confusing. The basic operation is this:
- Choose a start hour. If you’re starting work at 9AM, set the start hour to 9. The timer uses 24 hour time, which I am partial too because it makes it easier to calculate things like time durations.
Enter some names of tasks on the left side. I don’t have drag and drop working yet, so you’ll have to make do with just filling text in.
Track the current time by looking for the red vertical line. If you don’t see it, it’s possibly not visible on the current range of hours you have displayed. Just adjust the start time (base it on the current time) and you’ll see it.
Optionally turn on the 15-minute alarm by checking the box in the lower left corner.
Print your sheet when you need a hardcopy with the PRINT button in the lower right.
Don’t Worry about Closing the Window…I’m using “Local Shared Objects” that save data persistently between sessions; it’s sort of like a “Flash Cookie”. The upshot is that if you accidently close the browser window, you won’t lose your data…just open it up again and it should all be there.
Right now, the ETT tool tracks a single day consisting of 24 hours. There currently isn’t a convenient way to browse the day. To see other parts of the day, just set the start time to something else. I’ll be adding those kinds of UI elements as the feature set starts to finalize. If you want to erase the current day and start a new sheet, you need to go into the debugger:
- Click the movie, type CTRL-SHIFT-~ (tilde, usually upper left of your keyboard).
Click in the bottom line of the console (the input line) and type
lso clear. This erases the persistent storage (the local shared object, or LSO).
Reload the web page, and the hour tracking information for the CURRENT DAY will be created.
p>I’m pretty tired and I still have to clean up the house for Creative Retreating this weekend, but I’m jazzed to have gotten one of my backburnered projects actually off the ground. Yay! GTD helped me maintain momentum with all that next-action talk. Dang…it actually worked!
There’s some interesting things about the software design, particularly the data structures for the tasks and hours, that would be fun to talk about. In the meantime, please feel free to give the prototype a browse and let me know what you think. Thanks!
- Additional changes are noted in this post