I have always liked to keep lists. Whether it is for work using a ticketing system or at home on the back of an envelope, I need a system of some sort that tracks what I need do to.

When it comes to organising the jobs for my one-person consultancy I need something in between. As much as I'd love to have a full-blown work request system (and don't think that I haven't considered it), somewhere in between that and an envelope is required.

Enter Task Coach.Task Coach Icon

Task Coach is ideal to organise one person's jobs. You can set up tasks giving them start dates, end dates, and priorities. This means you can easily organise your work and see the deadlines approaching and where you should concentrate your efforts. Tasks can also be assigned to multiple categories, so, for example, you can separate out billable and non-billable tasks or have a different category for each client.

Task Coach Date Tracking

Another big feature that I use is effort tracking to record the amount of time I spend on each job. I can start tracking by clicking the Task Coach icon in the system tray and selecting the job. You can also manually enter time against a job (if you forget to start tracking).

Task Coach Time Tracking

It is dead easy to get started with it, but has loads of features that you discover along the way. Others include, setting task prerequisites, recurring tasks, and attachments (although I haven't figured out exactly how this feature is meant to work). There are also a myriad of ways to display the task information (timeline, calendar, and even a task map).

My basic workflow with Task Coach is:

  • As I hear about an opportunity I create a task. I tag it with a 'Lead' category so I can easily go back and see what opportunities I need to follow up. I also record any time against the task during this stage (to track how much time I spend on business development and help cost that into the job, if it comes though).
  • Before I start the work, I do my estimate and enter the budget.
  • As I work on the job I use the in-built timer to track my effort. It is also a good way to keep notes about what I have done – which can then be used on the invoice.
  • When I am invoicing I look at the tracked effort and either use the total hours to invoice (if billing by the hour) or review how good my estimation was (if doing a fixed quote).

Overall, it fits well with my small-time operation and personal workflow.

Task Coach is free, can run off a USB drive, and is regularly updated by its developers Frank Niessink and Jérôme Laheurte (and a bunch of translators). It is available on Windows, Linux, Mac OS, and even on the iPhone. I wonder when the Android version is coming ;)

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