Time Tracking Tools: Choosing What Works for You!

Time Tracking ToolsTime tracking tools offer a wonderful way to maximize your focus and productivity.  But how to you choose the one that’s best for you?

Today on The Time Finder I am pleased to feature a guest post by solopreneur, writer and marketing expert Kelly Drill.  Welcome, Kelly, and thank you for sharing your insights and expertise! 

Which Time Tracking Tool is Right for You?

Time is money, and as a solopreneur, you know how important  accurate time-tracking data is to your continued success. While many of us still use the old-fashioned pen-and-paper approach, you may get more bang for your buck by opting for a web app. Today’s time tracking apps make it fast and simple to record your time by client and by project.  This makes it easier to keep tabs on your clients’ budgets and to produce detailed invoices. As you review the many choices available to you, here are just a few tips for choosing the right time tracking tool for your business.


At first glance, time tracking apps may seem cost-prohibitive; but don’t be discouraged. The best time tracking app isn’t necessarily the most expensive. In fact, many of the most popular time tracking apps are designed to meet the needs of teams, not individuals. As such, they’re likely to include features you simply don’t need, won’t use, and shouldn’t have to pay for.

Look for an app that provides all the functionality you need, but no expensive extras. Sign up for free trials, and make sure you thoroughly understand what’s included in your monthly fee before you make the investment.

Time Tracking with Real-time Data

Time tracking apps generally fall into one of two categories: timesheets/calendar-based tools and timer-based tools. While either approach is better than none, there are some very compelling reasons to choose a real-time tool.

First, timer-based apps are more efficient to use. They allow you to enter your project details once, then simply start and stop times as you go about your work.

Second, timer-based systems yield more accurate data. Logging time as you work is infinitely easier to remember than logging your hours at the end of the day (or week). By eliminating the potential for human error, you’re ensuring that you’ll get paid for every minute of your hard work.

Third, up-to-the-minute time tracking data allows you to better serve your clients. By tracking your hours in real time, you’re able to instantly answer questions about budget and status, which builds customer trust and loyalty.

Ease of Use

A time tracking app should save you time, not waste it. As you consider various options, pay close attention to how long it takes you to: create projects, add clients, start and stop timers, and edit entries. Look closely at each app’s reporting capabilities. How easy is it to produce reports based on specified criteria? Does the app box you into a cumbersome, pre-defined invoicing model or will it work seamlessly with your existing invoicing tool? Choose a tool that is robust enough to meet your needs, but simple and intuitive enough to make running your business easier, not more complicated.

Kelly Drill is a solopreneur and marketing manager for Dolphin Micro, Inc. Her time tracking tool of choice is Hours Tracking.

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The booklet “How to Create Credibility as a Freelancer puts 70 expert-proven tips into your hands.  These tips will help you recharge your energy and motivation, increase your visibility, and sharpen those vital organizational and time management skills.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have no material connection with any time tracking tools and have not received any compensation for sharing this content.

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  1. I use Worksnaps because it easily integrates with other project management tools like basecamp and freshbooks. It makes monitoring the remote workforce easier. Great benefits not only for the employer alone but also for the employees who want to know how much time they spend on a project. Very recommended.

  2. Hi Graeme – Thanks very much for sharing about Worksnaps and its benefits. It sounds (and looks) like a powerful tool that works in multiple environments.

  3. thomasmorgan says

    I use http://88miles.net which is also a timer-based application. You are totally right about it being much simpler to track your time while you are doing it.

    Great point about being able to give clients real-time updates on budgets as well! It’s something we have done intuitively, but had never thought of as a benefit!

  4. I totally agree, logging your hours at the end of the week is very error-prone. http://www.timecockpit.com offers a slightly different approach – it automatically logs what you are doing on your PC and displays all logged signals in a time sheet calendar. So you cannot forget to start and stop a timer and still know what you have been doing during the day.

  5. I am so pleased to read about the great time tracking tools that are available. I’ve generally used timer-based tools, but am intrigued by something like timecockpit that does the tracking automatically. When you don’t have to start or stop a timer, I bet you are more likely to uncover distractions and ‘time drains’ that might not otherwise reveal themselves!

  6. I use http://www.toggl.com and their desktop app for a timer-not only does it let you start and stop, but you can assign time spent to specific projects. They have a limited free version for teams up to 5, and the data is synced across devices, so you can use a smartphone, tablet, desktop or web app and it all syncs up. It also knows when you go inactive (in case you forget to turn the timer off) and gives you the option to delete that inactive time from the timer.

    If you really want to discover “time drains”, try tracks all of your app use, web use (specific to which websites you’re using) and lets you set a rating for how productive each app/site. The free version only tells you which desktop apps you use and for how long-the paid version (only ($72/year) gives you document specific usage.

  7. Thank you for sharing these tools, Matt! My VA has used Rescue Time and loves it, although she hasn’t tried the paid version.

  8. Hi! Thank you for your interesting article. You’re right, time tracking app should save our time, not waste it. In our company we use Actitime timesheet(http://www.actitime.com/). All basic time-tracking functionality is available for free. For our small team it’s perfect.

  9. Hi Anastasia – Thank you for letting us know about actitime. The nice thing about a free tool, too, is that you can take time to really explore it before adding paid features.

  10. Great post, thanks for sharing. I would like to add http://www.proofhub.com for time tracking.

  11. Hi Diana – Thanks so much for adding ProofHub – it looks like an interesting and flexible tool!

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