Review: iJobo Freelance Activity Journal
With so many different types of programs and apps on helping you and your team keep track of hours spent on projects, it can be confusing. Most focus on what I call “self-reporting”– which relies on the person wanting to keep track and having to actually click a button to start recording time.
But how do we even know this is accurate? There are so many things online and on computers that distract us, how do we know that when we spent 5 hours on a client’s project today, that those were truly 5 hours of solid productivity devoted to that one project?
iJobo works to solve that, along with many other features. It is designed to monitor a users computer in the background, doing things like taking screenshots and recording their keystrokes.
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A Freelance Activity Journal
iJobo advertises itself as a “freelance activity journal,” so I was very interested in seeing what it can do for me as a freelancer with the employee base of me, myself, and I.
Right from the jump, one thing that I didn’t like was that it can only be used on a Windows computer. That is a big negative for me because most of my work is done on my Mac (and I am typing this on my Mac). However, I still use my PC from time to time, so I pulled out my laptop, dusted it off, and opened up iJobo’s website for a further review of the product.
I created an account, downloaded the software, and logged into both. Since I knew I would be poking around the web module a bit more, I went ahead and created a project called “Test” in the web module, then selected it in the iJobo PC application, and clicked start. It is important to note that I signed up for an account so I am logged in under what they call “owner,” so I could review the functionality that in most usage scenarios would be reserved for employers.
So now that it’s set to track my time, I poke around the web module and find quite a few nice features, such as the “Activities” tab on the home page that keeps track of hours worked, on what day, and mouse/keys pressed per hour. Interesting stuff. Under “Settings,” you can add employees, roles and projects here. A nice feature if you have a team working for you, you can create projects, and assign employees to those projects.
Since it is a new account I created, there wasn’t much to look at yet, as I am just now tracking my progress. I notice it is not tracking my time and activities in real time however, which is a drawback (though the lag time is only about ten minutes). I am sure there are employers that would like to log in and immediately see if someone is working right now.
To get to where I can see some juicy details, I go ahead and click stop and refresh the web module. Bam, I see my details.
Clicking on my name as the employee, I get to the juicy stuff. What did Amber Turner do in those three minutes? Well, not enough to produce a screenshot of what I was working on, which was what I was most excited about. Bummer. It did give me this nice report however:
Overall, I feel as though this is probably the best program for teams of freelancers, ones that need to track how long they collectively spend on a project. For me being the sole person who wears all the hats, I didn’t find that much use in it for my workflow.
But I could see where solo freelancers would want to know if the 5 hours they spent on a client project were really on that client project, and to know if those “five minutes” on Facebook was really five minutes. It could help with analysis of your workflow and to improve your productivity.
I have been thinking recently of having a team of people working for me instead of just me, and I would find this handy to make sure they are accurately telling me how many hours they spent on something. But I am still on the side of the fence where it feels like Big Brother’s watching you with this type of software running. I would find it hard to convince my future team to do this, as they probably would feel as though I am not very trusting.
- Progress Screenshots: It appears that iJobo took screenshots about every 10 minutes.
- At a Glance Reporting: Nice home page that showed a quick glance at all the employees and their progress.
- Detailed reports: Their reports showed some impressive stats, such as mouse/key strokes per hour, programs used and time spent in them, and detailed time sheets.
- Employee Project Breakdown: The ability to break down the activities based on employees and projects. Very handy for when you need to bill clients.
- No real time reporting: I see this as being a drawback to a paid program especially for employers who are really detail oriented.
- Limited Availability: iJobo is currently only available on Windows operating systems (for tracking). Most freelancers I know work primarily on a Mac OS.
- Targeted for Employers: Not really handy for the solo freelancer. I don’t see alot of use for the solo freelancer, unless they are more detailed-oriented than I am.
- Price: Their basic one is free (2 PC licenses), but any more users than that it is $16 per license, which is a big jump up from free.
- Feels like Big Brother is Watching: If I was an employee using this, I would feel as if the boss is always looking over my shoulder, which makes me naturally nervous.
I did go back and let iJobo run a bit longer, and it did produce some screenshots for me this time, one caught me with my guilty pleasure. Oops.