Tips for getting started with Activity & Expense Tracker

Here are step-by-step directions for:

These components are part of A&E Tracker Plus:

 


Each "record" in Activity & Expense Tracker consists of the name of the client, the project, the type of activity, the start and stop dates, and start and stop times, the total time, plus any expenses and notes. You can use the activity timer to automatically add time information to the record or enter the Start Time and End Time OR just click on the Total Time field and enter the hours and minutes you worked on the project.

It is highly recommended that you create a new record for each activity each day. This will result in more accurate reports so you can see where your time was spent during any particular day. You can add new records or edit the information for any record at any time.

Before entering your projects and activities into Activity & Expense Tracker, you may want to make a list on a sheet of paper. Sometimes the distinction between a client, project and activity is unclear. By making a list of activities that might apply to any project, and then making a list of projects that you are currently working on, the difference will become more obvious.

1) To create a new record, start by clicking New. You will be presented with a list of Clients to choose from. Click Create Client to add your own clients. Then click Choose Client to add it to the Activity & Expense Tracker record. Next you will be presented with a list of Projects and then a list of Activities. You can choose existing items or add to the lists at any time.

2) You can assign rates (hourly, flat or none) to activities, projects or clients. Just use the Assign Rates from buttons. If a rate has not been specified, you will be asked to enter a new rate. You can also assign custom rates just for the current record. Just click on the Hourly, Flat Rate or Non-Billable button.

3) Use the timer feature to keep track of the time you spend on each activity for each day. You can Start, Stop or Pause the timer as many times as you wish. You can also view or edit the timer log by clicking the Show Timer Log button.

When you click the Start Timer button, any timer that is already running will be stopped, unless you have the Allow Multiple Timers option checked.

Instead of using the timer, you can fill in the Start Time and End Time by using the Choose or Now buttons. OR you can enter the Start Time and then click the Total Time field to enter the number of hours worked. You can use several different formats for entering the time. 8:30 and 8.30 are both acceptable

4) Keep track of how accurate your time estimates are by entering an Estimated Time into the field provided. Then whenever the Total Time is updated, the difference between these times will be entered into the Time Variance field. These fields can be included in reports too.

5) Keep notes about the tasks performed in the Activity Notes field. Add expenses by clicking Add/Select Expense and Expense Notes at any time. You can also keep track of any Travel by filling in the Miles and $/mile fields (these fields will have different labels if you have changed the currency or distance preferences).

Click the Go To button above the Client or Project field to go directly to either the first or last record of a particular client or project.

If you want to go to the first record of a particular date in any module, just click Find Date at the top of the window, and then enter the date. If you know the record number you can click the Record # field to go directly to that record.

The Table View button takes you to another window where the records are displayed in a spreadsheet fashion. You can specify a client or project (by clicking on the field) or include all Clients or all Projects. You can also add and remove columns from the table, sort by any column and even expand the window to suit your needs.

Click the Quick Check button in Activity & Expense Tracker to get a quick report on the number of hours you've spent on a particular project. You can choose a specific activity or all activities and even specify a range of dates.

Use the Collapse button (located beside the Record # field in Activity & Expense Tracker) to make the window smaller. This button then changes to an Expand button you can use to restore the window to its normal size. You can move the collapsed window to any location on your screen.

Click Invoices & Reports in the lower right corner, to access the report options screen. The reporting features of Activity & Expense Tracker are fairly extensive. They are broken into three groups: Invoices, Time & Expense Reports and Expense Reports. Clicking one of the three tabs at the top of the Invoices & Reports window accesses each of these.


Activity & Expense Tracker Reports

The reporting features of Activity & Expense Tracker are fairly extensive. They are broken into three groups: Invoices, Time & Expense Reports and Expense Reports. Clicking one of the three tabs at the top of the Invoices & Reports window accesses each of these.

Here are a few "Options" that you may have overlooked:

Select one or more clients for a report (but not for an invoice). With the Project & Activity Reports tab selected, click Select Clients and choose any combination from the list. Of course if you want to report on all clients, you can just click the All button next to the field under the Select Clients button.

You can also select more than one project for a report or invoice. Click Select Projects and choose any combination from the list. If you want to report on all projects, just click the All button next to the field under the Select Projects button.

To include expenses in your reports or invoices, make sure the Expenses button is checked. You can only choose specific expenses by clicking the Expense Reports tab at the top of the window. The click the Select Expense button to list one or more specific types of expenses. For all expenses, just click the All button next to the field under the Select Expenses button in the Invoices & Reports window.

If you want to add a header that includes information about your company or your customer, click the Add/Edit button next to the Header button. A field will appear where you can type in the information you would like included.

You can save what you type to a text file for easy retrieval by clicking the Save as.. button below the Edit Header field. This way you can save several different headers and easily include them by clicking the Import button (also found below the Edit Header field). When you are finished editing the header, click the Close button below the Edit Header field.

If you want to add a footer that includes payment terms or other information, click the Add/Edit button next to the Footer button. A field will appear where you can type in the information you would like included. You can export or import footer information too.

One other feature, only available when the Invoice tab is clicked, is the Mark Up Expenses option. If you check this box and enter a percent number (the default is 25%) all expense totals in the invoice will be increased by that percentage.

To round times to the nearest 15 minutes (or any number you choose), just click the Round off times to button in the lower right of the Invoices & Reports window. This option will cause all times in an invoice or report to round to the nearest unit specified in the adjoining field. You can also use the Round Up Only option to round times up to the nearest increment, rather than rounding up or down.

You can also specify if you want times displayed as mins or partial hours by clicking the button to the right of the round off time field. If you choose Mins then minutes will be displayed normally (ie, 2 hrs 15 minutes). If you choose Hours then minutes will be displayed as hundredths of an hour (ie, 2 hrs 15 minutes = 2.25 hrs).

For example: To round off all times to the closest 5 minutes, select the option and put 5 into the round off time field. To round off all times to the closest .25 hours, click the mins button and choose Hours, then select the option and put .25 into the round off time field.


Creating Invoices

The way that I usually generate an Invoice in Activity & Expense Tracker is to first generate a Report with the Show Record Numbers option checked. I may also want to Show Start & Stop Times so I can check to see that I have not made any errors in recording my times.

Make sure you choose the specific client you will be creating the invoice for, and then click the Create Report button. By viewing this report you can easily see if all the records are in order and everything makes sense.

If you see any errors you can note the record number and then click the Go to Record # button. You will be asked for the record number and then be taken to that record where you can make any necessary changes.

Next click Invoice & Reports and then Create Report again until you are satisfied with the results. Finally, click the Invoices tab and then click the Create Invoice button. When everything is perfect you can either print it directly from the Invoice window by clicking the Print button. Or save the invoice to a text file (by clicking Save as.. in the Invoice window) for further modification in a word processor. Or you can click Copy to Email and then paste your Invoice into a new email message.

In the regular version of Activity & Expense Tracker you also have the option at this point of marking all the Activity & Expense tracker records for this invoice as Invoiced. Just click the button at the top right of the Invoice window. This will help you determine which records are invoiced but not paid, which have not been invoiced and which are both invoiced and paid.

When an Invoiced record is paid, click the Paid button on the record. If there are more than one records for the invoice, they all will be marked Paid.

If for some reason, you don't want a record to be included in an invoice, click the On-Hold button.

On the report window you will find the following buttons: Save As.. (saves the output as a text file for archiving or exporting to a spread sheet or word processor for formatting, etc.); Font (allows you to specify the size and font of the text in the report output); Print (usually just prints the output - you may need to print some reports in landscape mode); and Edit Report (allows you to make changes to the report before printing or exporting.

There is also a row of buttons, just above the report's output field, that allows you to change the width of the columns (the tab stops) in the report. Just drag any of the little rectangles left or right to make the report more readable.

For more information about the reporting Features in Activity & Expense Tracker just click the Help button at the bottom of the Invoices & Reports window.


Using the To Do List

To Do List button allows you to add up to 12 different timers to a new window, where you can more easily see what activities you have scheduled for the day. This new window also makes it easier to switch between timers for the day's activities, and their records.

When you create a new To Do List timer, the date will be checked and you will be prompted to create a new record for the timer if the date is not the current date. Similarly, if you try to start a timer that was created on a previous day, the software will prompt you to create a new record for the activity.

Next you will be asked for the Estimated number of hours for this Activity. The number must be in hours, for example enter .5 for half an hour, or 1.25 for an hour and fifteen minutes. This number gets transferred to Estimated Time field in both the To Do List window and the A&E Tracker window. You can see the difference between the actual time and the estimated time in the Time Variance field on the A&E Tracker record.

The estimated time is added to the Estimated Time Remaining field at the top of the To Do List window. As the timer runs, the Estimated Time Remaining field is updated, until the Estimated Time is reached. In other words, the Estimated Time Remaining field is never negative.

Then you will be asked if there is a Scheduled Start Time or a Deadline for this Activity. The choices are No - there is no preference for when to do this task, - Scheduled Start Time - you want to start the task at a particular time, and - Deadline - you want to finish the task at a particular time. This information is unique to the To Do List window and is not represented in the A&E Tracker window.

If you choose a Scheduled Start Time, the Scheduled Time field will turn yellow when the current time is later than this time. If you choose Deadline, the Scheduled Time field will turn yellow when the current time is later than the Estimated number of hours before the Scheduled Time. The Scheduled Time field will then turn red after the Scheduled Deadline has passed.

In the To Do List window the Client and Project fields are combined to save space. Use the View button to go directly to the A&E Tracker record for that timer.

The timer controls in the To Do List window take you to the record for that timer, so you can enter activity notes and expenses. The timer in both windows is then started, paused or stopped. If there is another timer running, starting a timer will stop the other timer, unless the Multiple Timers option is enabled.

When you have stopped a running timer, a Done indicator - this blue checkmark - will appear. If you intend to continue with the task later in the day, click the Done indicator to hide it. Timers that display the Done indicator are not included in the Estimated Time Remaining field at the top of the To Do List window. The purpose of this field is to give you a quick estimate of how much time you need to complete any uncompleted activities.

To remove a timer from the To Do List window, just click the big red x. You can have up to 12 timers in the To Do List. Click the Help button for more information.


Preferences

Click Prefs in any main component window to access the Preferences window. There are four sections, General, Colors, Formats and Translations.

In the General section you will find Monetary Symbol & Format controls, along with Tax Type and other preferences. Click the Help button for more information.

Most users will want to have certain windows open all the time, and others open only when needed. You can open and arrange any number of windows on your screen, as long as the Open Components in a New Window option in the Preferences window is enabled. If you would rather have only one window open at a time, disable this option.

In the Colors section, you can change the button and background colors of each component. Click the Background Colors option to show a list to choose from. Click the Button Colors option to show another list to choose from. You can Use these colors in all windows or choose different colors for each window.

To set different colors for each component, start by clicking the Prefs button in that component and then selecting new colors from the two lists in the Preferences window. If you want to return to the original colors just click the Default Settings button in the Preferences window. To save your new colors, close the Preferences window and then click the Save button in the component's window.

In the Formats section you can change the Time Format, Distance Format, Date Format and the Liquid Format. You can also add International Version features. Click Address Preferences to change the Address Format used for printing.


Backing Up and Recovering Missing Data

It is always a good idea to backup your data on a daily or weekly basis. There is an Auto Backup feature that will create a backup file whenever you click the Quit button in any main window. After creating a backup file, it is a good idea to make sure the new file is at least as big as the previous one. Then copy the .bak file to an external disk or USB drive.

You can also click the Export button in any component and then choose to create a Backup file or an Export file of just the records in that component. You will need a current backup file whenever you update the software. You can also use the Backup Records button on the Welcome screen for this purpose.

Occasionally during a save or a crash, a database will get corrupted. Fortunately the file is always saved with an .rev~ extension first. So if you ever have problems opening a component, look for a file with the .rev~ extension in the application's folder. (In Windows look in your Documents folder.) If you see one, delete the file with the same name (but without the .rev~ extension) and then rename the .rev~ file to just .rev. For example, if aet.rev were to get corrupted, you will find an aet.rev~ file. Just delete the contacts.rev file and change the name of aet.rev~ to aet.rev.

By backing up your records frequently, and copying the backup file to another disk, you can be sure your data can be easily restored to a new copy of the software, in case something goes wrong with your computer.



There is much more information about each component of the software available by clicking the Help button in that component or window.

If you have any questions or comments about the software, feel free to contact us.


Activity & Expense Tracker Plus Tips


Tips on using Activity & Expense Invoice Tracker

Activity & Expense Invoice Tracker is used to keep track of invoices created in Activity & Expense Tracker (as opposed to invoices created in Invoice Creator). You can easily keep track of and find out who has not paid you, when partial or full payments have been made, and get a report of all income received or due, by clicking the List Invoices Due button.

Records in Activity & Expense Invoice Tracker are generally created from the Activity & Expense Tracker invoice window by clicking the Transfer to Invoice button in the top right corner of the Invoice window. You will be asked to assign a Due Date. When the invoice is paid, you should enter the date in the Date Paid field. You can add Partial Payments by clicking the Add button above the field.


Tips on using Password Tracker

Use this simple utility to keep track of all your passwords.

1) Click New and then enter a description of the Account, Program or Web Site.

2) Next enter an ID# or User Name and a Password. Passwords are encrypted when stored or exported (but this is not a very strong encryption).

You can use the Password Generator to create very secure passwords. Read the Password Tips help topic for information on creating your own secure user name and password combinations. Use the three Password Prefs to control the Length of the password and whether you want it to contain special characters or at least one capital.

Click Password Report to generate a list of passwords. You can use this list to quickly locate any record in the database.


Tips on using Contact Tracker

You can use Contact Tracker to keep track of information about customers, vendors, family and friends. This component contains several useful tools, such as a Mailing List (form letter generator), a World Time Map, an Area Code Locator, and a Frequently Called Contacts List.

1) Begin (as usual) by clicking New. The fill in the First Name, Last Name and Company Name (if appropriate). There are two sets of address fields accessed by clicking Mailing or Shipping.

The Address Format for this Contact menu determines the order and format of the City, State, Province, and Zip or Postal Code when printed. There is a similar menu in the Formats section of Prefs window that becomes the Default, but you can specify a different format for each contact if you wish. The Address Format settings apply to Contact Lists, Envelopes, and Mailing Lists.

2) Enter other information such as: E-mail, Phone Numbers, and Family or Associates. Choose a contact Type from the menu provided. Choices include:Client, Customer, Guest, Friend, Family, Vendor, Owner, Employee, Sales Rep, or Other). A TaxID# field appears for Owners and Employees, and an Employee # field appears for Employees. A Customer # field appears on Contacts with the Type of Customer. You can Sort records by Contact Type.

3) Contact Tracker has four Miscellaneous fields that you can use for any purpose. These are accessed by clicking the Show Misc. Fields button. To change the label, just click on the Change buttons above them. The labels on all records will be changed to the new names. You can Sort your contact list by these fields.

To print out the information for a particular record, click the Prepare Envelope button. You can print just the name and address or all the information from the record by clicking the Show Email, Phone & Notes option. You can also add a Return Address to your envelope by using the option provided.

You can print out some or all the information on every record by clicking List Contacts in the main window and then choosing the various options provided. You can also choose a sort order for your list. To generate a list of just email addresses, select only the E-mail option. You can also add the Name option if you wish.

Click the Area Codes & WTM button to access either the Area Code lookup tool or the World Time Map where you can see at a glance what time it is in any part of the world.

Clicking the Area Code Locator option brings up a window where you can enter an area code. After clicking the Search button, several major cities within that area code will be listed. Or if you know the city's name and want to know the area code, you can enter the first few letters of the name into the field near the center of the window.

You can also just scroll through the bottom field to find a city name. You can add cities or change area codes in the bottom field by typing the city name, a tab and then the area code on a new line. (The tab is very important and if you add a line, you should put it into the correct alphabetical order.) A list of international codes is available on request.

The Mailing List button allows you to create a form letter for any or all of your contacts. First you will see a Contact Chooser window where you can specify which contacts to send the letter to. Then click Create Form Letter and then Edit Form Letter Template in the Send Form Letters window to create your letter.

You can add a logo and create a letterhead by clicking the Edit Header button. You can also print envelopes by clicking Prepare Envelope in the Send Form Letters window. Click Help in that window for more info about modifying the header. Click Help in the Contact Chooser window for more info about the Mailing List feature.

The FCC List button brings up the Frequently Called Contacts List window where you can add contacts that you want easy access to. Click Help in that window for more info.


Tips on using Schedule Tracker

Use Schedule Tracker to keep track of appointments and print calendars.

1) Start by clicking New and choosing a date for the event.

2) Next enter an Event Description. You can also enter a Location and a Purpose, but these fields are optional.

3) Enter the Start Time and End Time by using the Edit or Choose buttons be each field. These fields are also optional. If neither is filled in the event will be scheduled for the entire day.

4) If the event is a repeating event, choose one of the following from the Click to repeat menu: Daily, Weekly, Weekdays, Day of Month, Monthly, and Yearly.

If you choose Daily or Weekly, you will next have the option of specifying if the event repeats every day or week or every other day or week.

Next you need to enter a date to stop repeating the event by clicking the Edit or Choose button that appears above the Until field near the middle of the window.

If the Until date you choose does not match the logical last date for the event (for instance, if you have a repeating event for the same day every month, and the Until date you choose is not the correct day of the month) then the correct day will be entered.

You can edit the list of repeating dates by clicking the Show Repeat Dates button that appears below the Until date field. If you make changes to this list, make sure you have only one date per line, don't leave any blank lines or use a different date format.

Use the View Schedule button to create a text file that you can print or export to another program. You can choose the current Day, Week or Month or specify a Start Date. If you click Other you will be asked for an end date.

Click the Month, Week or Day button below the Notes field in the Schedule Tracker window to view a table view of your schedule.

In the Weekly View and Daily View window there is a Table Options button that allows you to specify the Start and End Times for the table as well as the time increments (:05, :10 or :15 minutes).

In the Daily View window you can also choose what to display in the three columns. The choices are Single Booking (conflicting appointments will be shown in red and the Location and Purpose of the appointment will be displayed), Single Booking & Tasks (the Purpose column is replaced by your current Task List from Task Tracker), Double Booking & Tasks (conflicting appointments are shown in the second column instead of the Location) and Triple Booking (appointments that conflict with the first column are shown in the second and appointments conflicting with those in the second column are shown in the third).

In the Monthly View window there are two small arrows at the top left corner which toggle a Month menu with a Start Date field. Click the Choose button to select a date in the week you want to be the first week of the monthly calendar.

Clicking the Add to Schedule button in Task Tracker will automatically add the task to Schedule Tracker. You will need to choose a date and perhaps a time for the event. You can also specify a location and purpose for the event.


Tips on using Task or Goal Tracker

Keep track of all your things to do and assign priorities, deadlines and notes with this simple tool.

1) Click New and enter the Task or Goal Description.

2) Choose a Deadline and enter any Notes you want to reference.

3) Set a Priority for the task. Records and reports can be sorted by Date, Priority, Deadline or Task.

4) When each task is done, just enter the date in the Completed field.

Click Tasks To Do Lists to see a list of all your tasks. You can show All Tasks, Urgent Tasks, Uncompleted or just Completed tasks.

You can also use the Add to Schedule button to open Schedule Tracker and create a new record. Then you will have two ways to help remind you to get the task done.

Tasks can be added to the Daily View (or Daily Briefing) by clicking the Table Options button.


Tips on using the Universal Calculator

The Universal Calculator has several tools you will want to explore. In addition to a simple Numbers calculator, it will also add or subtract Dates that are some number of days before or after a date you specify. You can also find out what Time it is anywhere in the world and compute time differences.

The Measurement calculator easily converts just about any US or British length, volume or weight to its metric equivalent or the other way around.

The Currency calculator is divided into three sections. Click the three tabs to access the following options. The Discounts & Sales Tax option easily computes discounts and sales tax on any amount. The Money Exchange option computes the amount of foreign currency that a number of dollars is worth (or the other way around) given the current exchange rate. The Payments option lets you compute loan payments, amortizations (months to pay for something) or the Amount an investment will be worth in the future.


There is much more information about each component of the software available by clicking the Help button in that component or window.

If you have any questions or comments about the software, feel free to contact us.


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