non-stochastic version of TagTime that pings you at any regular interval you choose?


I’m looking for a non-stochastic version of TagTime. I want it to ping me every 6 minutes.

Anyone know of anything like that?

WhatchaDoing is the closest I’ve found but it looks like it can only be set for specified intervals - it has every 5 minutes and every 10 minutes but not every 6 minutes.

This seems like such basic and obvious functionality and yet I can’t seem to find a time-tracker app that supports it.


The stochastic nature of TagTime is important in getting accurate results. The best explanation for this is the original blog post. You can also check out these links: Tagtime Philosophy, TagTime Accuracy

Wouldn’t a 6 minute ping through the day be extremely irritating? I’m curious - could you describe the way you’d like to use it?


I understand the philosophy, and it’s a good idea for some things - I may even set it up for outside of work hours. But for present purposes - billing clients in six-minute increments - it doesn’t fit my needs.

As far as accuracy goes, getting the information every 6 minutes is even more accurate than using a stochastic method.

Also, it seems to me that TagTime only works if your categories stay constant over weeks or months - for instance, if you wanted to keep track of how often you read, TagTime would be fine. But if you want to keep track of what you read, TagTime would probably miss a lot because you’d probably finish some reading material before you got pinged and so it would never show up on your list.

In my case, I need to keep track of which clients’ project I am working on, whenever I work on it. I can’t miss anything. For some clients, I work maybe once a month for 15 minutes over 3 months, so odds are TagTime would miss that client entirely.

It doesn’t really matter if it’s irritating or not, because I have to do this regardless. It’s a requirement for my job. But no, when I’ve used a physical timer that vibrates every 6 minutes, it’s been very helpful and motivating and makes me much more productive.

How I’d use it is that while working, every 6 minutes it would ping me and I would enter exactly what I was working on.


That’s very interesting. Would you mind me asking what kind of work you do? Billing in 6 minute increments is fascinating - I’ve only seen hourly billing before.

Thanks for clarifying. I’m definitely open to figuring out how to make it work for you too.


I’m in law - it’s common for lawyers to bill in tenths of an hour.

Do you know of any application (mobile or desktop) that can pop up and ask me what I’m doing every 6 minutes?


I don’t know of any single application that integrates high frequency reminder intervals with tagging, but if you can use two applications, you can use any interval timer (e.g. for exercise) with any note taking system (even paper). There are lots of interval timer apps for every popular smartphone platform (including open source ones in f-droid) or you can use a physical interval timer like a Gymboss.

If you use a system with a decent command line, this is also a pretty easy problem to solve. The following loop, which will work on most Linuxes and maybe MacOS, opens a text editor every 6 minutes to let you type in what you’ve been doing (or just copy/paste the last line, which is probably the most common thing). Once you close the editor, the timer starts again. To stop the loop, press Ctrl-C while not in the text editor.

while sleep 6m
  $EDITOR time.log

For many Unix text editors (e.g. vi, vim, and emacs) you can go straight to the last line by making the command $EDITOR +$ time.log. If the editor doesn’t support that and always starts you on the first line, consider making the log reverse chronological so the newest entries are at the top.


I’m currently using a physical timer and paper, which works ok when I remember to use it. Maybe I should just beemind using it.

Your loop doesn’t quite do what I need - I need it to ask me every 6 minutes even if I don’t respond to the previous one - but if I were on a unix box, I could write a script to ask what I’m doing and append the time and input to a file, and just use cron to have it run at the correct times (9:06, 9:12, 9:18… )

Unfortunately, I have to use Windows for work. I could try to use the Windows scheduler to do something like that - if I can’t find a program I may just have to. I do have MinGW installed so I may just be able to use that.

What I really need is a way to put up a window so it can’t be closed until I press a button, and so it stays on top - do you know of any way to do that? Maybe I can use qt/tk/tcl or something like that.


WhatchDoing looks nice.
The Use Case for tagtime is knowing where my time is going so that I can focus on the right things.

The Use Case you are asking for a non-stochastic version is “time tracking for billing.” My friend Charles and I are working on a tagtime client. That is still being designed for the previous use case.
But there have been some people talking about this Use Case. Maybe 3 to 6 months down the line we will be working on that use case.
We will ping back when we start that.


Your post made me think. Thinking this over, I don’t just want this for billing clients - I would like to track my time every 6 minutes while at the office and on my computer, to see where it goes.

I first thought of the client issue because that was one example of why a stochastic version wouldn’t work. But also, I just want all the data.

I’m not sure how to make the math work out but ideally I’d be able to designate stochastic and non-stochastic hours, so I am prompted every 6 minutes during work hours and randomly other times.

If I can’t find an existing application to do what I need, I’ll look at the tagtime code - it shouldn’t be too hard to modify it to do this.


On Linux, you can do that with xmessage. E.g.,

The buttons map is button-name to return-code, so if I click client3, the return code will be set to 103.


Thanks, is there a way to get xmessage to allow me to enter text in the dialog box?