Anyone who tracks billable time will appreciate Grindstone 2, a personal time-tracking and managing tool from Epiforge Software. Whatever it is you're working on, Grindstone 2 can keep track of it for you in the background, while you work, and generate a variety of reports and billing options when you're done.
Grindstone 2's main interface, the Task List, is divided into two panes, one on top of the other: the Task Pane and the Time Pane. The Task Pane is where you create, modify, and track tasks; the Time Pane manages the saved time from your tasks. In addition, there's a floating Stopwatch feature that's about the size of a media player in mini mode that you click to start and stop tracking your time. The last part of the Grindstone 2 system is the Date Filter, which lets you search for and display specific tasks and time. We started with the Quick Task Entry toolbar in the space between the two panes. Clicking the Create New Task icon called up a small dialog that let us quickly set the estimated time for the task in hours, minutes, and seconds; set Due and Complete dates by clicking on a handy pop-up calendar; and set an hourly rate using a rate calculating tool. We clicked Start Timing, and the Stopwatch appeared with the selected task name and a running digital clock displayed. We clicked the red Stop button, and the clock stopped while our task data simultaneously appeared in the Time Pane. We clicked the green Start button and our task resumed, displaying a new instance of active time in the Time Pane. When we left for a while and returned, a Welcome Back dialog appeared. It was easy to modify and delete tasks, too, and to generate a menu full of reporting options. There's a neat Egg Timer pop-up, a Travel installation option, XML exporting, and a lot more, especially for freeware.
We were impressed with Grindstone 2's performance and pleased by its extras. It's easy to use but does a lot, so the excellent Help file, online forums, and video tutorials go a long way toward getting the most out of all that this fine free tool offers.
From Epiforge Software:
Grindstone greatly simplifies everything about staying on top of your time, from automatically recording it to producing useful reports based on it. Just tell Grindstone what you're working on and it will keep tabs on your time in the background while you work. Incorporating automatic away detection, advanced task and time management functions, and customizable billing calculation, Grindstone is the most powerful personal time tracking solution.
Easy to use, Easy to add tasks, easy to switch between tasks, easy to start and stop timing.
No ability to track multiple tasks at the same time. I find the lack of this feature to be a killer and the companies unwillingness to add the feature to be a huge downside to the software and a poor reflection of customer service.
While true human multi-tasking is not possible since the mind can actually only be doing one thing at a time, this isn't the case when it comes to being a consultant. Sometimes work we are doing requires us to wait for something to happen, and every effective consultant I know wants to make the most of his/her time since they are paid and bill based on their time, so they take advantage of those wait times and work on something else. Billable time can and does overlap between tasks, and a tool that allows that would be king of the hill.
It's an alright product that does what it's designed to do fairly smoothly, but the fact that it's limited in the ability to time multiple tasks is a huge downside, and the companies stance on not being willing to add the functionality, even with many such requests downgrades this rating severely.
Gets 5 stars for being free and being SO intuitive. Takes very little investment in learning, especially compared to other programs. It's been written about a lot, I ditto all the compliments. I haven't tried the group working service, but it has that advanced tie in. This can be for a pro or for someone that wants to improve their own time use and self-awareness or discipline, pretty painlessly. The visible timer alone is nice.
Could have more sophisticated timesheet abilities, but it takes care of your basic needs quite well.
It's very easy to define new tasks and start measuring time dedicated to them. It's very easy to switch between tasks and I like the way it keeps control when I leave my laptop and come back (which I do A LOT)
The reporting feature is barely good. I guess it's easy to select all of your tasks for reporting when you have two or three of them going on simultaneously, but as soon as you start defining profiles the selection process becomes not so nice.
Updated on Sep 20, 2011
It's a good tool, specially when you perform a lot of different tasks, switching a lot between them, and it even keeps track when you move away from the laptop. The reporting feature needs a little work, though, because it doesn't manage quite naturally the consolidated reporting of "several tasks X several profiles".
I've been using a time-billing program for years. Rather than spend several hundred dollars to upgrade to the latest version I thought I'd see what else was available. The review made this look like it would be a great option so I downloaded it. The download process was fine, but when I tried to use the program, that's where I became confused. If I'm recording my time, it's because I want to bill for my time. I couldn't see where I would even enter the data (name, address, phone number) to be included in invoices. What is a "profile"? Is that supposed to be the same as a client? Apparently not. How do I enter the client name, address, phone, email, etc.? Do I have to create custom fields for eac data point? Those are common entries that would be useful for each client and I don't think it makes sense to have to create new custom fields every time I want to enter a client's address. I'll be uninstalling this and looking for another option.
I work with sales people and clients. All day I am doing many tasks, interrupting one for another, throughout the day. Grindstone lets me keep track of each one with a simple double click! It's perfect.
I want a PDA version so I can continue my tracking with I leave the office!!!
What I like most is the quick click ability to change from one task to another.
I would prefer that I could display multiple profiles with the tasks - instead of only taks within a profile - in the "active" talk list window. Then I could have more delineation and still double click from one to another.
But for me, all tasks in one profile with the ability to just double click a new process is the BEST!