Automatic Time Tracking with Chrometa

Automatic time tracking sounds like a beautiful thing for a time-based business owner. It isn’t easy to separate out how you spend your time on projects and client work. This is going to sound odd coming from a long time product reviewer, but I was afraid to install Chrometa and learn that I was under-billing on my projects. It would be embarrassing. This review of Chrometa is for the smart (and more courageous) business owner who sells their service in units of time. The professionals out there who need a simple and effect time tracking solution.

Chrometa captures your time as you work on your computer – so that you don’t have to. It acts as your personal timekeeper by noting how long you are working in an application, what you are working on, and for how long.  If you are composing an email or working in five different applications (meaning they are open at one time on your system) at the same time, Chrometa knows which one you are actively working in and records the time spent in that program. You don’t have to tell it anything. As an example, it can and does go deeper, too, and shows you how long you spent composing a subject line in Google’s Gmail app.

Here is a sample summary screen to show you how time was recorded.

I’m pretty bullish on this application now that I’ve seen it working. It will allow me to pull all these snippets of time recorded, by category into an invoice. Talk about time savings. In the settings, I can tell it how to round my time, in minute increments. I can import all this data into QuickBooks, too. Or FreshBooks. Or Basecamp.

If you have a lot of clients and projects and don’t want to manually enter all that data (again) from another application, Chrometa offers a clean import tool, a bulk upload tool, via a CSV-formatted spreadsheet.

What I Like

Well, what’s not to like. This simple app is a time-saver for anyone who struggles with keeping track of time spent on a client project.

  • There’s a Windows, Mac, and Google Chrome plugin for Gmail. That covers 90% of the business user market. Sorry Ubuntu users, but I guess you can make it work via Chrome.
  • Time management without a timer. I know; I’m repeating myself.
What I’d Lke to See
Okay, these are nitpicky items:
  • Since legal types, attorneys, para-legals are heavy time trackers, they have export options to Clio and PCLaw. I’d like to see other industries get some love.
  • I’d like to see a more in-focus image on the home page instead of a fuzzy screenshot (although I think that’s intentional so you focus on the company name and tagline message). And information right there on the home page that says that it includes a 15-day free trial when you click download. Nitpicky, I know.
Chrometa is a sweet application. I highly recommend you take it for a spin and see how much time you’re spending on unbillable tasks or how you’ve been under-billing on client work. This simple, but elegant, tool is a dream for anyone who sells their time and wants to get paid for it, all of it. The basic plan starts at $19/month.
Learn more about Chrometa.

TJ McCue TJ McCue served as Technology/Product Review Editor for Small Business Trends for many years and now contributes on 3D technologies. He is currently traveling the USA on the 3DRV roadtrip and writes at the Refine Digital blog.

11 Reactions
  1. TJ: I will install Chrometa on my MacBook and start using it in my social media consulting business. I interviewed Brett Owens on my podcast show on September 19, 2010.

  2. Interesting software, I will definitely look into it to see how it can benefit my own social media business

  3. Thanks Martin. I am impressed with Chrometa. I looked at it a long time ago and finally dove in and it does a great job.

  4. Hi TJ,
    Thanks for this clear explanation. Looks like it covers everything. Did you by any chance compare this against any of the free programs like RescueTime? I just started using RescueTime and haven’t gotten it totally customized to how I use my time yet (for example, I write a lot of reports in email, and the program records that as unproductive time — my solution is to move the writing to Word and paste in gmail later), but it seems to do a good job of capturing everything.

    I’m with you — I do love time tracking without having to think about it.

  5. I didn’t do any comparisons, Marcia, but I have heard of RescueTime and that its a good solution. Chrometa stood out for a number of reasons and that’s why I did the review on them. Time savings and efficiency for SMB owners.

  6. TJ, does Chrometa work well for simple time tracking needs like, when a user logged on and when they leave for the day? I am looking for something that will help me to keep track of time for where I work, but don’t need the level of detail I seem to see you mention.

  7. Thanks for telling us about this TJ. It looks great!

  8. I agree that automatic time tracking sounds such a sigh of relief for all those looking for time tracking solutions. However, there are various easy to use web based time tracking solutions today in the market, its still important to evaluate each of these and how useful it could be for your projects. We had been using Replicon time tracking solution which is an easy to use hassle free application.

  9. We are looking for a time keeping device that can be used by techs in the field with an I-phone.
    We need fast and accurate “time card” that can be sent back to the office as soon as a tech enters the info

  10. In my experience, using a time monitoring software helps boost your productivity. It is important to track your time while working. One reason is because you can monitor your work. Just make sure to pick the software that has lesser flaws because sadly, most of the web-based tools online are problematic.
    What our company is using is “Time Doctor.” It tracks time accurately and it captures screenshots off of your computer screen. With this, you can see your weaknesses and you can try to do something to make your outputs better and faster.

  11. The problem with Chrometa is the quality of the reports. There isn’t one that summarises all the hours spent broken down by client for a specified period, which is after all what you want it for.