Use Hook with Time Tracking, Billing and Accounting Software

One of the many benefits of Hook is that it complements your time-tracking and billing systems. It enables you to include links to documents (and other items) that make your time sheets and invoices more meaningful to your clients, bookkeepers, and yourself.

As I’ve long maintained on the CogZest blog, time-tracking is important for productivity. It’s also necessary if you are billing clients for your time. Furthermore, the EU has new time tracking Regulations.

To track my time, I use the excellent time-tracking app by Daniel Alm, Timing, in conjunction with a free mySelfQuantifier spreadsheet.

The Timing app automatically logs the apps I am using at any given moment. Its time-line feature allows users to precisely reconstruct what they have done at any given time. It also automatically classifies work into projects based on the user’s configurations, so one can instantly see how much time one has spent in various projects.

One can also manually define tasks over the timeline, setting their title and adding notes to them. One can even aggregate events into tasks.

Of course, the Timing app can also generate reports that summarize the user’s activities. Reports can include the day, project, duration, activity type, task title, start date, end date, notes and more.

Use Hook to make a note of key documents involved in any given task

Work tends to revolve around a key (focal) document (or two). It’s typical during a task to access multiple documents surrounding the focal document. As I explained in mySelfQuantifier documentation, cognitive science has shown that relying on human memory alone, it is surprisingly difficult to accurately reconstruct one’s recent activities.

Here’s where Timing comes in. While working on a given task, Timing automatically keeps track of the apps and documents with which you are interacting. So, you can examine Timing’s timeline to determine what you were doing, and in particular what document(s) most adequately represents what you were working on during any particular interval.

With Hook, you can instantly copy a link to almost any document, including of course key documents. Hook links contain the name and the address of the item. So you can paste a copied link into the note associated with a given task. That way, the generated report will reference the key document(s) you were working on. This provides a very concise and useful summary of what you were doing during that time.

Tip: If you wish to paste an informative link in a plain text note, such as a Timing note, then use Hook’s handy “Copy as Markdown Link” command in Hook, because it pastes both the name and the address of the document. But if you’re to paste in a rich text field, such as a cell in a time tracking spreadsheet, then the regular “Copy as Link” function will get you a richly formatted clickable link. The latter is the typical case.

Create more meaningful invoices with Timing and Hook

When you bill your customers on an hourly basis, it’s important to include a time sheet that specifies precisely what you were doing. For any given day, your work may be spread out over many periods. And of course you will typically work multiple days. This requires a great system — and great software.

Using Timing, you can be sure:

  • you’re only billing your customer for productive hours of work,
  • you know exactly what project you were working on for your customer,
  • you know what activities you were working on.

And with Hook, as explained above, you can even specifically make a note, for any task in any time period, of what document(s) you were working on. Timing will provide all the other data you wish to include.

That provides accountability, and it helps keep you focused and on task.

Billable work is not just about “documents”

I’ve been using the word “document”. However, Hook allows you to get links to other types of information, such as email messages, projects in task management systems, and objects in databases (such as Evernote, OmniFocus, etc.)

Often, writing and reading emails is time consuming, billable work. (If you’ve ever had to hire a lawyer, you probably know this.)

You can now provide more detailed time sheets to your clients by including links to emails that you read and write. If your clients use Hook, then they will be able to click on those links to open the email. That helps them immediately and precisely see what you have billed them for.

Keep in mind that consuming Hook links is included in Hook Lite, which is free. So if they don’t yet have Hook, they can simply download the Lite version of Hook which doesn’t cost them a cent. (The Lite version even allows users to create free links, which can make your life easier when they reference prior emails.) Even if your clients won’t use Hook themselves, they will be able to recognize the emails based on the title which is included in the name of the link provided by Hook.

Hook also lets you easily get links to other kinds of documents, such as web pages. So if your work revolves around web pages, you can use Hook to quickly get their names and addresses, which you can then include in your time sheets, emails and invoices.

Put links in your invoices too

An added benefit of using Hook is that in your invoice you can not only refer to your attached time sheets, you can actually insert a Hook link to your attachment(s). So, while they are reading your invoice, your clients can click on the link to the time sheet, for instance. (Hook will automatically invoke Spotlight to find the time sheet on their Mac and reveal it to them. Your clients will appreciate communicating with you because Hook makes accessing information so efficient!)

Helps for bookkeeping and accounting too

Hook is also quite helpful for bookkeeping and accounting, since they also involve cross referencing documents.

In the apps you use for tracking your income, you can include links to your invoices. This can help you or your accountant determine specific eligibility for tax credits (e.g., with respect to to Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax Incentive Program – Canada.ca.)

There also are other many ways in which Hook can help you provide more meaningful information in your ledgers about the bills that you receive. (For instance, in a spreadsheet that tracks your expenses, you can include links cells that are links to bills (say in PDFs) and to the emails in which you receive the bills. That can help you quickly make sense of the bills at year end.) But those topics are for a different blog post.

About Timing

To learn more about Timing and time tracking, check out the Timing website.

About Hook

Hook allows you and your clients to do better work faster by helping you immediately reference and access specific documents.

By linking documents, you implicitly create networks of information resources that you can easily navigate. This will often allow you to avoid using Finder or Spotlight.

By spending less time storing and searching for information, you and your clients will feel less tired, and get more done.

To learn more about Hook, check out its benefits, online documentation, or the Hook productivity forum. Or simply download your free trial and start using it.

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