Switch™ is a BlackBerry smartphone app for managing work-related tasks and for tracking the time spent on those tasks. It is geared toward professionals who need to track their time for billing or project management purposes. This article is part of a series providing tips & tricks for maximizing the power of Switch™.
After using Switch™ for a while, eventually you will probably want to see a report of how your time has been spent. One of the main report types available in Switch™ is called a Summary Report. This report provides a view of the time tracked in Switch™ for a given period of time, broken down by task. The tasks will be listed in descending order of total time. To view a summary report, choose the “Summary Report” menu item from the main Switch™ task screen. This will display a report similar to the one shown below:
The time period for the report can span a single day, week, month or year. The example report above is a Daily Summary Report for the single day of December 16, 2010. To view the report for a different day, you can swipe left or right on the touchscreen, trackpad or trackball. For the touchscreen, swiping to the left will move forward one time period (a day in this example), and swiping to the right will move backward on time period. The swipe directions are reversed for the trackpad and trackball (right to go forward, left to go backward). Another way to view the report for a different day is to use the “Go To Day” menu item. This will display a date picker where you can select any desired date. To display a summary report for a time period other than a single day, choose “Weekly Summary”, “Monthly Summary” or “Yearly Summary” from the menu on any summary report screen.
Switch™ provides a number of options that control how the time values are displayed in summary reports. These report options are all available on the Switch™ Options screen.
- Report Units – Controls the display format and time units of time values
- Work Day – Defines the length of a work day
- Work Week – Defines the length of a work week
The “Report Units” option has the most visible impact on how time values are displayed. It has three possible settings:
- Whole – Displays time values in one or two whole numbers each with time units (like 1h 30m)
- Hours:Minutes – Displays time values in hours and minutes (like 1:30)
- Decimal – Displays time values with a decimal number and a time unit (like 1.5 h)
For the “Report Units” settings that display time units (Whole and Decimal), the following time unit abbreviations are used:
- y – Year
- M – Month
- d – Day
- h – Hour
- m – Minute
- s – Second
For Whole and Decimal settings, Switch™ will attempt to use the largest time unit that would result in a primary value greater than or equal to one. For example, a time value of 75 minutes would be displayed as 1h 15m in Whole format or 1.25 h in Decimal format. A time value of 45 minutes would be displayed as 45m in both Whole and Decimal formats. The example Daily Summary above shows time values in the Whole format, while the one below shows the same time values in the Decimal format.
The “Work Day” and “Work Week” options control how time values are interpreted. The “Work Day” option specifies the number of hours that make up a typical work day. For example, if “Work Day” is set to 24 hours, then the time value of 600 minutes will be displayed as 10h. However, if “Work Day” is set to 8 hours, then the same time value will be displayed as 1d 2h (Whole) or 1.25d (Decimal). Similarly, the “Work Week” option specifies the number of typical working days in a week. Assuming “Work Day” is set to 8 hours, and “Work Week” is set to 7 days, then a time value of 2880 minutes would be displayed as 6d. If the “Work Week” was changed to 5 days, then the same time value would be displayed as 1w 1d (Whole) or 1.2 w (Decimal).
The “Hours:Minutes” setting of the “Report Units” option differs from the other settings in that it always displays time values in consistent time units (hours and minutes). It is unaffected by the “Work Day” and “Work Week” settings. For instance, a time value of 2885 minutes would be displayed as 48:05, representing 48 hours and 5 minutes. The same Daily Summary report as in the previous examples is shown below with the “Hours:Minutes” setting for time values.
Viewing your summary reports within Switch™ is great and useful, but someday you may want to share a report with someone else or export the report data for further analysis. Fortunately, Switch™ provides a simple way to do both. From any Summary Report screen, choose the Forward As menu item. This will present you with two options: “Email” and “PIN”. Either choice will allow you to send a plain-text version of the report to one or more of your contacts. Both choices will also allow you to select one or more time periods for the report. However the “Email” option provides some additional capabilities, including a nicely formatted HTML version of the report and a .CSV file attachment containing the raw data for the report. Following is an example HTML version of a summary report for a single day.
While the Switch™ Summary Report screens display one time period at time (a time period can be a day, week, month or year), forwarded summary reports can span multiple time periods. When forwarding a Daily Summary Report, you can select a range of days. For a Weekly Summary Report, you can select a range of weeks, and so on. When more than one time period is selected for a forwarded report, the generated report will begin with a summary report that covers the entire selected time range. This is then followed by individual summary reports for each time period within the selected range.
As an example, if a Daily Summary report were forwarded as an email, with a date range spanning seven days from Sunday through Saturday, the resulting report would contain a total of eight summary reports. The first would summarize all tasks worked on during that week, while the remaining seven would summarize tasks worked on each day that week.
As you can see, Switch™ provides a wide array of options for creating and sharing reports that summarize how your time has been spent. In upcoming articles, I’ll discuss further ways you can view and share your tracked time using Switch™.
Other articles in this series: