Every now and then we get a request for a feature that lets a user add time on behalf of other users. Not too often, but still. The request isn’t entirely unreasonable – there are situations where you’d need to add time when your team member has forgotten to do so. But is this something that can be fixed with a feature or will it have to be fixed from within?

One thing that makes working at Toggl exciting is discovering the many different ways in which people use our time tracker. I used to use it for tracking my drawing progress (and in the process discovered I wasn’t working as slow as I thought I was), others use it for invoicing their clients or measuring their team’s productivity.

Productivity comes from the human, not the app

One of the most important features in Toggl is the human user. Our job is to help others increase their productivity. Productivity, however, requires discipline. And discipline and initiative must come from the human. No time tracker, no matter how perfect, can ever replace a person’s will to be better. People might need help along the way and Toggl tells them if they’re on top of their tasks, or if they could be more efficient with something. But it does not lead an independent life.

Ghost in the machine

Toggl Desktop app likes reminding me to cut or keep my tracked time when it senses I’ve been curiously quiet for too long. While the app does this on its own I still have to exercise my intention to either keep or save that time. We work together on this. Philosophers and social scientists have since long scrapped the idea of the mind and body, the mental and the physical being two separate concepts.

Yet, we quietly embrace the idea when it comes to technology. Personally, I’d love Toggl to start tracking time automatically when it detects that I start working on something (I haven’t mentioned this wish to the developers yet, I fear they’d just yell and throw things at me). I love apps that “seamlessly” work with my life. But “seamless” works both ways. A productivity app can only do so much for my productivity if I’m not willing to listen or contribute.

The human can not be viewed separately from the technology that assists us. I must never forget about Toggl running somewhere in the background. Actively engaging with it, tracking my tasks, I’m forcing myself to improve my behaviour. In fact, the whole concept, at least as far as productivity perks go, revolves around my active involvement. If I didn’t engage in it, Toggl would just drop in to tell me that I’m lazy every now and then, and that’s not a hallmark of a constructive relationship.