TimeFlip: You are only as efficient as you track your time
Multitasking is not for everyone. However, sometimes there is no other choice and it becomes a necessity. Many time tracking software solutions have tried to make multitasking easier, but more often than not these software end up stopping your workflow and/or taking some of your time, and as you probably know: Time is Money.
TimeFlip is a playful gadget in the shape of a dodecahedron (a 12-sided dice). Equipped with a motion sensor this device allows you to track your activity at work and the time you spend on different tasks. Each side represents an activity (you can label the dice however you see fits), and when working you can simply flip it around to track how much time you spend on each activity. The data collected are then stored in a cloud and you have access to your own data through either a mobile app or a web interface.
Time is a game
TimeFlip is one of these gadgets that is not fixing or bringing anything new, but it is an evolution of an existing technology. Time tracking software solutions have been around, but TimeFlip makes it easier: the movement of flipping the dice around is simple and the object does not ask anything else from the user.
TimeFlip is what we can call persuasive technology. Fogg describes persuasive technology as “interactive computing systems designed to change people’s attitudes and behaviors” (1). The interactivity of TimeFlip is one of the aspects that makes it so attractive. Whenever you feel like it, you are able to check how your time was distributed over a period. Then, you can challenge yourself into doing better and managing your time more efficiently. In other words, using TimeFlip is hacking your time in a playful way which turns time management into a game. This is what Morozov calls gamification –when social practices use game-mechanics. (203)
Time is data
TimeFlip is interactive through the web interface and/or the mobile app. Data are displayed using colorful graphs and statistics about the last day, week, month, or year. Data visualization influences the way an individual will interpret the data and that is why the power of data visualization is important; it “amplifies the rhetorical function of the data, since different visualizations are differently effective, well or poorly designed, and all data sets can be multiply visualized and thereby differently persuasive” (Gitelman 12)
Data are displayed, but data are also collected. Data visualization and statistics are perfect for dataveillance (Gitelman 10), and this is the other side of the coin (or in this case the dodecahedron) for TimeFlip. The gadget has the capacity to store up to 80 days of data, but to see and analyze them the user must connect the object to the cloud. There is no possible way to use TimeFlip without sharing your data with the company. This is a specificity of our era, data collection feeds off our online behavior along with our habits (Gitelman 10). TimeFlip is then just another object through which we give access to our personal data.
Time is money
Time tracking is nice and fun, but the dice is not only designed for me track the time I spend on different social media platforms instead of writing my essay. It is also and most importantly a corporate and entrepreneurial tool. In fact, TimeFlip seems to be a great analytic tool for teamwork. The company has conceived an easy way for managers to track their teams.
In the corporate context, TimeFlip becomes part of a collaborative system. Companies create such systems as a way to support the teams’ work and improve their effectiveness (Easley, Davaraj and Crant 265). Time is a valuable resource and should not be wasted; this is why time tracking software products started appearing in the first place. TimeFlip also pursues the idea of saving time. Through analytics, team management is able to visualize how the team members use their time. Consequently, management is able to make changes that will help improve the team’s performance. As you can see in the screenshots above, TimeFlip also assesses your billable time and how much money you possibly made. TimeFlip illustrates perfectly how time becomes money.
However, there is one thing I have not addressed yet and that can be detrimental to the value of all the data collected through the dice. TimeFlip is based on self-recording, that is to say that the person using the object is the one assessing. Therefore, the reliability of the usage cannot always be optimal. Hall and Hursch discussed the problems of self-recording and point reactivity as one of the main issues (76). When it comes to measure time reactivity is an important factor: what if you forget to flip the dice around? This is certainly one of the limitations of the object.
TimeFlip is a time tracking object, it is emergent because it is a new easy way to track time but also because of its cloud based data collection. The gadget can be analyzed through different lenses and has clear limitations: the storage of the data and the self-recording aspect of the dice. Depending on if, it is used alone or if colleagues use it together, the tool affords different things. Nevertheless, what it always affords is an easy time management solution resulting in money savings, along with a nice object to fidget with.
Coldewey, Devin. “TimeFlip Is a Time-Tracking Gadget Simple Enough That I Might Actually Use It.” TechCrunch, TechCrunch, 30 Jan. 2018, techcrunch.com/2018/01/30/timeflip-is-a-time-tracking-gadget-simple-enough-that-i-might-actually-use-it/. Accessed 19 September 2018.
Easley, Robert F, et al. “Relating Collaborative Technology Use to Teamwork Quality and Performance: An Empirical Analysis.” Journal of Management Information Systems, vol. 19, no. 4, 2003, pp. 247–268, doi:10.1080/07421222.2003.11045747. Accessed 20 September 2018.
Fogg, Brian J. Introduction. Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do, by Fogg, Morgan Kaufmann, 2003, pp. 1-13.
Gitelman, Lisa, and Virginia Jackson. Introduction. Raw Data Is an Oxymoron, edited by Lisa Gitelman, MIT Press, 2013, pp. 1-14.
Hall, Brandon L, and Daniel E Hursch. “An Evaluation of the Effects of a Time Management Training Program on Work Efficiency.” Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, vol. 3, no. 4, 1982, pp. 73–96, doi:10.1300/j075v03n04_08. Accessed 20 September 2018.
Morozov, Evgeny. “Gamify or die” To Save Everything, Click Here: the Folly of Technological Solutionism. PublicAffairs, 2013, pp. 203-205.
Team Commerce. “Become More Productive with Help from This App-Connected Dodecahedron.” Mashable, Mashable, 28 Mar. 2018, mashable.com/2018/03/28/timeflip-magnetic-time-tracker-sale/#A3DhiHDr_aqy. Accessed 19 September 2018.