Freelancers and contractors who are paid for actual time worked need a way to keep track of these billable hours. Talk to any freelancer though and they’ll tell you how much they hate keeping track of their time and that finding a solution that works for them is always a challenge.
Raphael Adams got frustrated with the search and decided to build his own, the most unique time tracking solution I’ve seen, or at least the one with the coolest name – The Detonator!
The Detonator or Puncher is a simple physical device with a button to click start or stop an internal timer. LED lights show the time accumulated. It is released as an open source project with all necessary parts available online, and project resources available on GitHub.
It’s a fairly technical project and assembling circuit boards and working with eeprom might be more than most freelancers are willing to go through. Also, while functional, The Detonator is probably not the ideal solution. Much like task management, time trackers really need to reflect the style of each person and choosing the right one is a very personal choice.
But I think this project is important. While appearing simple on the surface, it really exemplifies some interesting things about creative types and how they choose the tools that they use. It also shows what they do when they can’t find a solution that works for them. The creation of the Detonator shows the natural tendency of creative people to not just settle for what exists, but rather to turn that quest in to something new, something better that they can share with others.
This sort of frustration with existing solutions often leads to great creations. Like Raphael’s Detonator, time tracking service Freckle was created when Amy Hoy decided that she wasn’t happy with any of the options she had tried and figured that other freelancers were likely feeling the same way. Both Basecamp and ubiquitous invoicer Freshbooks were both originally created for internal use because existing products didn’t suit their needs. Eventually these internal use products got turned out publicly and are now tremendously popular solutions for others to use.
Finding the right tools to use will always be an ongoing quest but often times you may find that deciding to roll your own solution is the best option. The old adage that “necessity is the mother of invention” still rings very true today. While The Detonator sounds destructive, it’s really a great example of the beauty of creativity.