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Project management for academics II: Tracking and managing your time

In a previous life, I studied AND did project management for a living. I decided to apply my experience and expertise in this area to develop a series of blog posts on how to do project management within academia. My previous blog post on Managing A Research Pipeline can be found here. Synchronizing To-Do lists

A few weeks ago, I requested help from my #AcademicTwitter community on time-tracking apps

I have always loved computer software to track time, even though I used to do this the analog way. I had a shorthand notebook and I used to write what I spent my time on. I have had to do this for a number of employers (also known as “keeping track of your time in a time-sheet”. Keeping track of time (yes, even during the COVID-19 emergency!) may help us discern where our time is going. Personally, I like tracking time because it allows me to make a case AGAINST the culture of ““hours spent at your desk”. You can see the responses to my tweet for suggestions of apps. After testing a few applications, I zeroed in on two: Clockify and Toggl. I had used RescueTime before, ATracker, but I ended up just focusing on Clockify and Toggle. Both have Chrome extensions and desktop apps. These two are, in my view, the simplest ones.


  • Amazingly intuitive
  • Chrome extension
  • Easy to start, easy to stop

  • I procrastinated and forgot to turn Clockify on, so OBVIOUSLY my added hours do not add up to 8 hours.
  • This would be the same problem with RescueTime, BTW.



  • amazingly intuitive, perhaps even more intuitive than Clockify
  • super easy to create a task and a project
  • easy to start, easy to stop

  • so far, have not had any cons.
  • I also fixed my manual updates for Clockify.

Both desktop apps and Chrome extensions are intuitive, though I still think Toggl is a tiny tiny bit more intuitive.

toggl and clockify desktops

Conclusion: Evaluating Toggl vs. Clockify I love both of them and I will continue to use them, possibly interchangeably. What I should say, though, is that Clockify has an AMAZING blog with tips on time management. Moreover, they are not shy about promoting OTHER time-tracking apps, which to me shows an interest and care on the customer.

Both Clockify and Toggl have excellent customer support on Twitter.

My experience tracking my time

For me, tracking how I spend my time is something I am quite experienced about. I used to do it in grade school, high school and throughout my graduate degree. I sort of left it behind when I became a professor.

What time-tracking has given me again is the sense of where my time goes. Obviously during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place period, I am sure much of my time is going to be personal. But even now I can distinguish between when I am working on my own personal stuff, when I am doing scholarly work, and when I am doing housework and care work. To me, time-tracking apps are useful. Maybe they will be useful to you too.

But again, let me just remind you: regardless of what you spend your time on, WE ARE JUST TRYING TO SURVIVE THIS PANDEMIC. I wouldn’t stress over what you’re spending your time on, right about now. But if it helps you, maybe my review of Clockify and Toggl may be helpful.

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Posted in academia.

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