Yesterday I discussed time management, and how it can be useful for more than just keeping track of hourly earnings.

If you use time management software to track your productivity, you probably already know its value – but if you’re new to the topic, which program do you choose?

To be perfectly honest, I can’t really help you choose between two or more programs, because when I went looking for time management software to track my editing projects, I used the first one I tried – and never looked any further.

I’ve been using the free version of Klok for about a year. It has been worth much more than the $19.99 price they charge for the full monty – and you may not need anything more. But twenty bucks is a bargain to pay for the features Klok offers, so yesterday I ponied up the cash for the full version. This version has a lot more features to help you analyze your work and time, and I think it’ll be a continued asset to my editing, and now, to my writing as well.

I wanted to go beyond using Klok to keep track of billable editing hours, and use it to track my writing time as well – so I know how much my writing is costing me in time.

Because time is often more valuable than money – especially considering the present value of the dollar – time management is critical for authors, editors and others to keep track of their productivity.

Klok has been indispensible to me in determining the value of my time. Before I started using it, I scoffed at the outrageously high prices many editors demand for their services – but after using it to track my own hours, I now scoff at those who offer ridiculously low rates.

Editing – at least, thorough editing – is time consuming work.

Using Klok gave me a tangible, accurate picture of where my time was going, how many times I was getting interrupted, how often I was working on a project, and a variety of other valuable data points.

Let’s look at what Klok can actually do for you.

Klok allows you to be as specific or vague about a project as you like. If you’re editing (or writing) a novel, you can break it down by chapter, section, act or scene – and Klok will tell you exactly how much time each took to finish. It also totals the value of the job based on an hourly rate you can specify when you set each job up. Here you can see a fictional editor/monkey trainer spent a bit more than five hours working on edits for his number two client. At $100 per hour, the job is worth $501. Click the image for a larger view:

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Also notice the elapsed time bar is yellow – you can set time limits per job, and the elapsed time will show green – until you go beyond your allotted time. A nice visual reminder to get things wrapped up!

If you have a variety of irons in the fire, such as blog posts, website design, the care and feeding of email lists, fiction writing, editing and a side job teaching sign language to chimpanzees, Klok allows you to color code each of them so you can get a quick visual reference of where you spent your time during a given week or day.

Klok’s calendar view shows you a week at a glance, and gives you real information about your time use. Click the next image to see where my fictional writer/chimp whisperer was most productive:

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The color coding is helpful also because time spent not working – i.e., getting interrupted, bathroom breaks, the sixth trip to Starbucks – you get the idea – it all shows up as empty black space between colorful blocks of creativity.

When you think you spent eight solid hours working, and you look back at Klok and realize that you took twelve 20-minute breaks during that eight hours, you realize right away why your productivity was half what it should have been.

If you’re using Klok for billing time, it compiles all project time data into a timesheet with total hours worked. You can even designate certain tasks as non-billable, and they’ll show up on the report for reference. This view shows the billable hours (green) next to total hours (light blue) in the upper bar graph, with all projects broken down in the lower windows. Click the image for detail:

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The beauty of an effective time management program is that it lets you take the guess work out of your planning, scheduling and billing. It lets you see where time is being wasted, so you can get more out of your workday. Klok does all of that very well. It shows you the real value of your time – so you can make the most of it.

Note: I am not in any way affiliated with Klok or being compensated for this post. I just think it’s cool software, and thought you might, too.