Simple, Pretty Time Tracking In A Jiffy

Productivity is relative. There are a ton of definitions and as many opinions about what productivity is and how you measure it. Irrespective of what your version is though, one of the best ways to measure how well you are utilizing your time is to track it in the first place.

In spite of the ubiquity of the task of tracking and analyzing time, there aren’t too many tools to do so effectively, more so on the mobile platforms. Jiffy tries to solve that problem on Android with a beautiful and minimalistic interface that caught my eye the moment I saw the screenshots. Whether it did enough to adequately solve the problem for me, I had to find out for myself.

Great First Impressions

The first thing you will notice about the app is just how pretty it is. The interface is minimalistic and white, with dashes of bright, almost fluorescent colors that represent each of the project you are logging time for. This is after you add a few projects, of course. The free version lets you track time for three projects at a time, but an in-app upgrade will get rid of that restriction.

Dashboard & project details

Dashboard & project details

The core functionality is as simple as it comes — tap a project name to start the timer, tap again to stop it. A bar graph at the top shows you the current week with an indication of how much time has been tracked every day. Then there’s the Today & This Week numbers on the right. I found myself tapping the bar chart on more than one occasion, assuming it will take me to the details. Didn’t work.

Reporting & Analysis

Once you have started recording time, you want to be able to see how you are doing, right? There are two options for you here — a History view that shows the calendar with blocks of time you have logged, and a Summary view that simply shows the distribution of time across projects or clients.

History & summary

History & summary

You can tap an entry in the calendar view to see the details or edit them. A somewhat hidden feature that I found pretty late was that you can also tap the date to change it. There is no way to tell that you can do this, unless you actually tap the small date bar at the top. The Summary is pretty much a static page – there is no interaction whatsoever. You get what you see and that’s about it.

You can back-up your data to your device and restore it later. Or you can export the Summary data as a CSV file, although I had to actually do it to figure out that it was a CSV. The app does not give any indication of what it means by “Export”.

Hits & Misses

The app has some nice touches, I’ll give them that. If you stop the timer in less than a minute of starting it, the app will assume it was a mistake and trash that entry for you, which is a great little touch and goes a long way in showing the attention to detail from the developers. When a timer is on, an expandable notification shade tells you what project it is for and lets you stop the timer without ever launching the app.

Expanded notifications & the issue with small blocks

Expanded notifications & the issue with small blocks

On the flip side is the missing functionality from places you would expect it to be in. Apart from the dashboard bar chart that doesn’t take you anywhere, I also found myself trying to pinch and zoom in on the calendar in the history view to be able to see and edit the smaller time windows. Again, no luck. This particular issue can be extremely frustrating if you are someone who works on multiple projects at a time in tiny intervals. Log anything smaller than an hour and have the time of your life trying to tap that thin line to open the instance!

One of the biggest reasons I don’t see myself using Jiffy any more is because of the lack of any sort of data portability. Sure, you can export or back-up your data, but there is no way of doing anything with it. The app is new though, and there is a lot of scope for improvement. I hope to come back to it in the future and stay on it.