Keeping a record of the time spent on projects can be useful in many different ways. Have you ever had one of those days when you were busy all day and at the end can’t remember what you have achieved? I’m sure many of us would know that feeling. Of course, some of us sell time, so it’s imperative to keep track of how long we spent on a task. Another area worth keeping time records is when volunteering. This time can often be used as “in kind” contributions when applying for grants.
The system described in this article has worked well for me and particularly useful to look back on each evening as I complete my Daily Notes. Sometimes it can even spark a new note as well. There is a bit of setting up, but once done, the system is entirely automatic and seamless between Obsidian and Toggl timekeeping system.
Establish account for time tracker
The structure of this system involves an account with Toggl, download of an app and browser extension, installing the Obsidian community plugin and connection to your Toggle account with an API key.
- Head to Toggl: Time Tracking Software, Project Planning & Hiring Tools and set up your free account by clicking on Try Toggl or Start Tracking for Free on the home page. While Toggl has a paid version which provides much more detailed information, the free account has proved quite adequate for personal use.
- Search for the Toggl Track browser extension for your browser. Install the extension and connect your browser to your account at Toggl.
- I have also installed the Toggl app and recommend doing so as it provides more flexibility than the Obsidian plugin. You can download the app from FREE Desktop Time Tracker [Windows & Mac] | Toggl Track and link it to your account.
- While logged in to your account, go to the bottom left hand column of the site and click on Profile.
- Go into Profile Settings and set up your organisation. This can include connecting a Google or Outlook calendar to your account that will sync events in those calendars into your Toggl calendar.
- Scroll down to the bottom of this page and you will see a heading for API Token. Below that is box stating “Click to Reveal”. Click on this and copy the API token as you will need it for your Obsidian setup. (Tip: I have a note in my vault where I store all my token keys. You could also record them in your password manager.)
- In Obsidian, go to Settings/Community Plugins/Browse and input Toggl into the search field. Several extensions will come up, but the one we are looking for is shown in the image below:
- Once installed and enabled, go to the Options and put your API token number into the field and test the connection. You will have also set up a workspace in Toggl by default and you will need to select this in the options to sync everything.
You are now ready to begin recording your time.
Obsidian and the Toggl app
The problem I have found with the Obsidian plugin is that you are unable to add new projects when recording time. The basis of Toggl is that you record the task you are performing and the project to which that time is linked. If the project has been created, then you can launch the tracker from Obsidian and select the project. I have the Toggl Tracker in my right hand side bar and can click the arrow to start tracking. Alternately, you can set up a hotkey or open the Command palette with Ctrl/Cmd P and select Toggle Track – Start Toggl Timer.
Figure 1: Toggl Track Below Calendar in Right Side Bar
There appears to be a missing ability to create a new project from the Obsidian plugin and an issue has been lodged on the plugin author’s site for clarification. At this stage, you will need to create projects from within the browser plugin version of Toggl or via the app if you have it running. If you do not create a project, the time will be recorded against “No Project” until you edit the entry.
It should be noted that functionality has been added in the QuickAdd plugin to integrate with the Toggl plugin. Details are in the documentation.
Integration with Daily Notes
The plugin has a powerful query language built in for integration with your notes. I find that embedding this in my Daily Note template provides me with daily and weekly summaries of my activities. Being in the daily note is useful for reflection when completing your daily note in the evening as I do.
The syntax for integrating the plugin reports into your notes are in the documentation and also on the plugin information page after installing it in your vault. My daily note displays are:
Figure 2: Toggle report in Daily Note from embedded query
I find that building a habit of keeping a record of where I am spending my time provides me with some discipline and information. Time records are useful for repetitive task and also habit building. Given that Toggl is a free resource and combines with an excellent community plugin, this is a great way to build information in your daily notes.