We all want to know how we’re spending our hard-earned dough (or, at least, we should want to know). Budgets are lauded as the ultimate financial tool because they tell us in detail how we’re spending our money. But what about our time? While the cliche that time is money may be overused, the fact remains that it’s easy to get caught up in certain activities, and spend far more time than we’d planned, to the detriment of our pocketbooks, or other areas of our lives.
The problem is that keeping track of time, especially leisure time, seems like a tedious activity that would itself take away from the hours that we can spend doing what we want. (Budgeting, for all that the average person hates it, at least doesn’t cost money!) The good news is that Firefox has some useful extensions that can help you painlessly track the time that you spend, both online and off.
Track Your Cell Phone Minutes
Did you forget that your mother called your cell and talked for five hours on the first day of your billing cycle? Never quite sure how many minutes you have left? Firefox has extensions for all of the major US cell service providers, showing you exactly how much time you have left on your cell phone for the month.
Looks like it doesn’t have SMS support, but according to the comments, the latest version seems to be working well.
From the same man who wrote the T-Mobile extension. Apparently, it’s tricky to track one phone if you have a family plan, but other than that, those who’ve commented seem satisfied.
Can be downloaded using the Cingular Minute Minder 1.0 link under “Revisions” on the right-hand sidebar of the developer’s blog.
The same developer is also working on a version for AT&T users. It looks like it’s working for some people, and the developer is working on upgrading it as well.
I use Sprint, and have my username and password saved on the (recently upgraded) Sprint site. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Sprint extension not only worked as soon as I installed it, but also gave me my phone number (erased from the screenshot below), info on text message usage, the end of my next billing cycle, and the last date that it had pulled my minutes used.
Track Your Packages
Do you shop online? Sell online? Splurge on the extra few cents that it takes to get a tracking number put on your post? While I wish it had the ability to make packages reach people faster, this Firefox extension will at least make it easy for you to tell where your packages are stuck, and how long they’ve taken to get as far as they have.
At its most basic, this extension allows you to highlight a tracking number and then right-click to be taken to the tracking page of whichever shipping company you used. It supports UPS, FedEx, DHL, USPS, Canada Post, and Purolator, with the option to add other carriers yourself.
For the more visually inclined among us, Track Package also includes an option to link to PackageMapping.com, where you can see your package’s path on Google Maps. For those sending or receiving lots of post, it includes a history of packages tracked using the extension, and a toolbar add-on that allows you to automatically make links out of un-linked tracking numbers. All the functionality is outlined with nice screenshots on the instructions section of the developer’s website.
Not to imply that time spent online is time wasted (reading this blog, for example, is a brilliant idea; you should do it more often) but sometimes the internet can suck up far more of our waking hours–or far more of the hours that we should have been sleeping–than we mean it to.
A very simple timer that sits on the bottom of your browser window and tells you how long you’ve spent on Firefox. It’s not intrusive, it pauses when your browser isn’t an active window (or when you click it to pause), and it gives you the option to list certain sites as “work sites” that don’t count in your total browsing time. I’ve been using this timer for a while now, and I really like it.
Allows you to group sites into categories like “procrastination” and “work”. It then tracks how much time you’ve spent in each category, and gives you a colorful graphical breakdown when you visit PageAddict.com.
The most complex of the time trackers, MeeTimer also allows you to categorize sites. It then tells you what percentage of your browsing time has been spent on each category. You can also set it to include “deterrents” which pop up when you visit a page in your procrastination category, informing you of how much time you’ve wasted during the week so far. Excellent screenshots of the MeeTimer can be found here.
Unlike money, time has to be spent. While the above extensions can’t be used to give you a detailed budget of your time, they can at least give you a little bit more information about how you’re using it.
Published or updated March 22, 2012.