STOPTHAT - An Example

This page gives an example of the whole process. It shows a sample database for a short period, the text reports that would be created from that database, and a timeline graphic that would be made from the database.


Screenshot, click for full resolution

Example Database

Consider this database, which represents a single day:

13451.44709 0 Away 13451.45226 5 Arrive, get a cup of black tea 13451.46948 DICT Aardvark through Abacus 13451.47950 10010 Phone: Client A needs some work done on Project A 13451.53911 10020 Wrap up some work I was doing yesterday on Project B, send email to Client B 13451.55024 10020 Fix some things that popped up due to recent changes 13451.57793 10030 Making changes that Client C requested to Project C 13451.59971 1 I had a peanut butter sandwich for lunch 13451.69366 10010 Do the work on Project A that the client requested 13451.71752 10030 Continue implementing client-requested change 13451.72208 10010 Follow up with Client A, about work on Project A 13451.73526 10030 Finish the client-requested change on Project C 13451.74461 10040 Finally get back working on Project D for Client D 13451.77213 DICT Abattoir to Addled 13451.86164 10040 Phone: Client D asking about progress, Do more work on Project D 13451.88984 1 I had ramen for dinner 13451.93773 10040 Busy day, late work period on Project D 13451.99166 10040 Making good progress on Project D 13452.01637 0 Away

This data represents a rather busy day, of juggling four different projects and four different clients. On busy days, you race around from project to project trying to get as much accomplished as possible for your clients. On busy days, you have the least time to dedicate to time accounting, yet you have the most need to capture data about that time so you can bill appropriately.

First, the STOPTHAT GUI helps you by making it easy to capture data about your day. You just have to remember to make an entry every time you switch from one project to another. Making an entry is as simple as selecting the correct project, and entering a description of what you were doing.

Example STOPWHAT Output

Remember that STOPWHAT is a separate command-line program that creates text reports based on the database. It reads the whole database, converts each line into a period, and then shows you the results in different text formats.

The sample database is jumbled, and it would be hard to track how much time was spent on any project. Click a few of the sample reports in the table below, to get a feel for how neatly the software does this job.

Narrow Output, for old terminals Wide Output, for new wide screens
Default output, chronological order narrow-default.txt wide-default.txt
Group by days narrow-grouped_by_days.txt wide-grouped_by_days.txt
Group by projects narrow-grouped_by_projects.txt wide-grouped_by_projects.txt
Group by days, then subgroup by projects narrow-grouped_by_days_then_projects.txt wide-grouped_by_days_then_projects.txt
Group by projects, then subgroup by days narrow-grouped_by_projects_then_days.txt wide-grouped_by_projects_then_days.txt
Show total time spent on all projects in database narrow-summaries_only.txt wide-summaries_only.txt

Example STOPLOOK Output

Remember that STOPLOOK is a separate command-line program that creates timeline graphics representing a day. It reads the database, converts each line into periods, and then draws representations of each period onto an image.

Here is an image that would be produced for the sample database above:


Sample timeline graphic. Click for full resolution.

The image is drawn to a scale of 1 pixel = 1 decimal minute. The resulting image, for a single day, is a nice round 1000 pixels wide, because that's how this version of decimal time works.

What I like best about the timeline graphic is that you can theoretically string them end to end, resulting in an incredibly long ribbon graphic that represents your life. Or you can stack them on top of each other vertically to observe patterns in the ways the bars of color shift back and forth through the seasons.