Timely — Beautiful, Functional Time Logging

Today, the trend for most professionals is to go freelance. This allows them to cherry-pick their projects and be in complete control over their work. Freelancers usually get paid by the hour, however, so logging the amount of time they spend on projects is a critical part of their lives. This is about as interesting and fun as it sounds, i.e., not at all. But the people over at Timely are here to help.

Timely is a refreshing new take on an otherwise mundane and soul-sapping exercise. Small touches in the service make for a rather enjoyable experience. I like how the app cuts around the unnecessary complexity of some of its rivals. This quote in particular caught my eye – "The calendar has no time stamps. We believe it doesn't matter if you work late at night or early in the morning. What matters is that you're going work for 3 hours on something." I completely agree, as this removes an unnecessary step in logging your time. Why is this useful? Because if you remove a step in the input process, it makes logging entries that much more painless. You no longer need to wonder when you started or finished, just that you worked for a certain number of hours of work on your projects. This simplicity in data entry is what makes apps like Clear+ a personal favourite of mine, and I'm very happy to see it implemented here as well.

When you sign up, Timely allows you to use the name of your company as an element of your personal URL. So, for instance, if your company is called 'ABC Inc.', your personal URL can be 'abcinc.timelyapp.com', which is pretty cool. Adding a new task is as simple as clicking the '+' sign on any date in the 'Calendar' tab. This brings up a popup interface, where you can enter the name of the task, log it under an existing or new project, the amount of time you want to allocate to it and add a note to it. You can even activate a timer to accurately log the amount of time you work on a particular task. If you opt to create a new project, Timely allows you to set an hourly rate for it or even classify it as non-billable (i.e., for personal projects) and further customise it any way you want. Another little detail I liked was how Timely differentiates between time logged in the present or past (i.e., known) and time allocated in the future (i.e., still unknown). To highlight the difference, past and present allocations are marked as 'Logged' and future allocations are marked as 'Estimated'.

All your projects, and the details associated with each, are available in a handy 'Projects' tab. The details of the work done by people collaborating on a project(s) with you is available in the 'Users' tab. Finally, reports that sum up your work are available in the 'Reports' tab. They are fully customisable and can even be exported as Excel (.xls) files. It is clean, functional and wonderfully designed. If there’s only one niggle I found in an otherwise flawless app, it’s that the service doesn’t support the Indian Rupee symbol at all and the display for the Rupee’s currency code (Rs.) is quite cramped.

The mark of an excellent app/service, in my book, is if it can make the dull activity fun. That is a challenge that Timely meets with flying colours. Even if you're new to logging your time, Timely is a beautifully simple, yet fully equipped, way to start. If you're a freelancer or if you just need a service to log time worked on projects, Timely is, without question, the service for you. It is currently in Public Beta, and is to be relaunched in a couple of weeks.

Timely is free to use for one person and three projects, with several tiers available that increase the number of people that can be allocated to your projects as well as the total number of projects you can monitor. Of note for freelancers is the aptly name 'Freelance' tier, which allows you to add an unlimited number of projects for yourself only , for $10/month. There's also a free, fully functional, gorgeous and iOS7-ready companion iPhone app.

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