An American Editor

July 24, 2019

It’s All About the Benjamins! EditTools’ Time Tracker (Part IV)

Filed under: Editorial Matters — An American Editor @ 11:55 am

By Richard Adin, Founder, An American Editor

In It’s All About the Benjamins! EditTools’ Time Tracker (Part I), I discussed the importance of collecting data; in Part II, I discussed Time Trackers’ Project Summary; and in Part III, I discussed some of the key elements of the Create/Update Project dialog. Part IV discusses collecting the data.

First, Create a Project

The new “project” is Bumble, Harris & Crank’s Searching for the American Biographical Soul, clearly a fictitious project. The first step is to create a project that Time Tracker can time and track. As shown in Part III, a new project is created using the Create/Update Project dialog accessed by clicking the Create Project button on the Project Summary. The image below shows a completed new Create/Update Project dialog for this project.

Completed project form for the Bumble project

Note in the form above that the fee is a project fee and that the fee and number of pages information has been provided. To calculate the page count, and ultimately to set the fee, I used the EditTools Counter macro to generate the following report:

Page count for the Bumble project

Once you have completed the form, click Create (#22 above) to create the new project and add it to the Project Summary, as shown below.

The Bumble project appears on the Project Summary

However, before timing the project can begin, you need to create a subpart for the project because when completing the Create/Update Project form, the default N was changed to Y (#16 above). To create a subpart, click Add Subpart (#23 above). Clicking Add Subpart opens the form shown below; enter a name for the subpart and click OK.

Creating a subpart for the Bumble project

When you click OK, the subpart appears in the Project Summary, as shown below. Compare the image below with the Project Summary image earlier. Not only has the subpart been added to the Project Summary, but when the subpart is selected, as it is in the image below, Start (#24), which initiates timing, becomes available.

The Bumble project subpart is added to the Project Summary
& Start becomes available

Clicking Start (#24) will turn on the timer for the Bumble project. Equally as important as the timer, however, is the document save interval.

A Slight Detour: The Document Save Interval & What Document(s) to Save

The Document Save interval and which document(s) to save are key features of Time Tracker. Most users of Microsoft Word use Word’s autosave feature to save open Word documents at some specified interval. However, the documents aren’t really being saved. If Word crashes, Word will ask you if you want to open the autosaved document and then ask you to formally save the document. Longtime users of Word know, however, that the autosave option is far from a sure thing. Sometimes files are corrupted, often changes are lost, and Word saves the files as temporary files using a naming system different from what most users use.

Time Tracker does not use Word’s autosave feature. Instead, it actually saves your document, just as if you went to File > Save. With Time Tracker, you can choose whether to save just the Word document you are working on or all open Word documents. For example, if you have a chapter text file, a file of tables for the chapter, and a stylesheet all open at the same time, you can either choose to save all three open documents or just the one document you are working in when it is time to execute the save command. (Thus, if you are working in the stylesheet at the time and you have chosen to save just the document you are working in, only the stylesheet will be saved. In general, the best option is to save all open documents, not just the document you are working in.)

In addition, you can set the save interval. The intervals are in 30-minute segments beginning at 1 hour through 4 hours. (There is also a 5-minute test interval. It is not recommended that you use this interval except for testing because it will interrupt your work too frequently.) The suggested interval is 1.5 hours. When choosing an interval, consider how you work. Should Word crash, the amount of work you may lose depends on the interval chosen (and, of course, how well Word’s built-in autosave works). For example, if you choose an interval of 1.5 hours and the last time that interval was reached was 42 minutes ago, depending on how well Word’s autosave works, you can have lost up to 42 minutes of work.

To set the save interval and which document(s) to save, click Settings (#25 above), which opens the dialog shown here:

The Save Settings dialog

Whatever settings you choose remain the default settings until changed, so all future subparts for the Bumble project and any new, reopened, or restarted projects will use these settings.

For more detailed information, see the Time Tracker Help file.

Timing the Work Session

As noted earlier, to start timing a project, select the project (or, if the project has subparts, the appropriate subpart) as shown in the Project Summary image above, and click Start (#24 above). Clicking Start opens a message box (below) asking you to insert a bookmark at the point where you are going to start working. The reason is that many documents take more than a single work session to complete. Inserting the bookmark lets you mark where the current work session begins so when you quit for the day, you can calculate the necessary information for your dataset.

Marking a starting point for the current work session

If you do not need a bookmark, click No Bookmark to start Time Tracker; if one is needed, click Insert Bookmark to insert a bookmark and start Time Tracker. For more detailed information, see the Time Tracker Help file.

Once you make your choice and click the button, the Project Summary dialog will close and Time Tracker will start. The EditTools Ribbon will also change. What was just a red Off button now becomes a green Running button with a yellow Pause and a red Stop button alongside, as shown here:

Time Tracker on the EditTools Ribbon

These buttons control Time Tracker. To Pause Time Tracker while you get a cup of tea or check email, click the yellow Pause. The green Running button will become yellow Pause and the yellow Pause button will become green Running. When ready to start again, click green Running. When you are ready to end the current work session, click the red Stop button.

You will be asked how many pages were completed during the work session (see below) so your Effective Hourly Rate (EHR) and Average Pages per Hour (APH) for the work session can be calculated.

Pages completed during the work session

When you have entered the number and clicked OK, a message box (below) will appear summarizing the data that were entered for the work session.

Summary of the work session

If you need to modify the data entry — for example, change 5 pages to 6 pages — you can. How to modify the data will be discussed part V of this series and in detail in the Time Tracker Help file.

The Project Summary form displays the new data as shown below. Because this is the first work session for the Bumble project, the data displayed are just for this one session.

The work session 1 data

Restarting the Work Session

The Bumble project is a long project so it isn’t unexpected that multiple work sessions are required. Because of the project’s length, the client has asked that edited chapters be submitted in batches (the reason for creating subparts). My practice is to always include an invoice with a batch. For this project, I want the first batch to include at least chapters 1 through 4, and possibly chapter 5.

(Tip: Once a batch is complete, rename the subpart to reflect what is included in the batch. For example, if the first batch of Bumble includes chapters 1– 4, I will rename the subpart from “01 Bumble Batch 1” to “01 Bumble Batch 1: chs 1-4.” This helps me track both the project and the invoice.)

My batch 1 work is not yet complete, so I need to start a new work session. The procedure is the same:

  1. Click the red Off button on the EditTools Ribbon to open the Project Summary.
  2. Select the project or subpart in the Project Summary.
  3. Click Start.

(Reminder: If you want to change the save interval, you need to click Settings, make the change, and then click Start. Once timing starts, the only way to change the save interval is to click Stop and restart the work session.)

When it is time to end this work session, the procedure remains the same:

  1. Click Stop.
  2. Enter the number of pages edited.
  3. Review the data that will be entered and click OK.

If you open the Project Summary, you can verify that the data have been entered. Below is the Project Summary at the close of this second work session. Compare it to the Project Summary showing just the data for the first work session (see “The work session 1 data” above). The Project Summary displays the accumulated data for Batch 1. (For more detailed information, see the Time Tracker Help file.)

The work session 2 data

There is one anomaly, however, with the data displayed on the Project Summary: the YTD (year-to-date) and Lifetime EHR and APH numbers. If you look at the Project Summary images for the two work sessions, you will see that the data are the same even though additional data have been added. That’s because the Project Summary form has not closed. The information is recalculated automatically when the form is closed and reopened. There is no need to do that, however. Just click Refresh and the data will be recalculated, as shown below.

The recalculated YTD and Lifetime EHR and APH

A New Subpart & Work Session

The examples above are based on a single subpart. Consequently, the data for the subpart and the data for the project are identical. Now I will illustrate what happens when a second subpart is added to the project.

The procedures remain the same as outlined above. To create a second subpart to the Bumble project, select the main project line, not the Batch 1 subpart line; click Add Subpart; and give the subpart a name (for this example, it is named “02 Bumble Batch 2”).

When ready to begin the work session, select the project or subpart to be worked on and click Start. For this example, “02 Bumble Batch 2” is selected.

When the work session ends, click Stop in the EditTools Ribbon and state the number of pages edited during this session. Opening the Project Summary displays the following information (Refresh was clicked to update the YTD and Lifetime data in the image):

The work session 3 data

As was true for the first subpart, the second subpart line shows the data for all work done that is attributed to that subpart. In the image above, the second subpart (Batch 2) data show that the work session was 2 hours 23 minutes and for the first subpart (Batch 1), it was 1 hour 8 minutes total for the two work sessions that are part of Batch 1. Note, however, that the project line (green highlight) shows that 3 hours 31 minutes have been spent to date working on the Bumble project — the project line is the totals line, whereas the subpart lines are the component lines.

For me, the most important data are the EHR and APH, which are profit/loss indicators and difficulty indicators. For example, the EHR and APH for Batch 2 are significantly less than for Batch 1, which indicates that the material in Batch 2 was more difficult and more time-consuming. If the decline continues, I need to figure out why. At these levels, however, especially considering the total project numbers to date for the EHR and APH, I do not need to panic; an hourly rate of $90.42 (EHR) and a speed of 15 pages an hour (APH) is not worrisome, especially in comparison to the YTD and Lifetime numbers (and what I know about my required EHR [rEHR]).

The YTD numbers indicate how I am doing over all of the projects I have worked on this calendar year. The Lifetime numbers tell me how I am doing over all the years I have been tracking the information (the numbers in the image are identical because the only data available are for the current year. Next year at this time, the numbers will differ and Lifetime will show numbers-based data for 19 months.)


Part V will discuss some of the other features of Time Tracker, such as modifying the data.

Richard (Rich) Adin is the founder of the An American Editor blog, author of The Business of Editing, owner of wordsnSync Ltd., and creator/owner of EditTools.


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