If you are providing services, time tracking is essential but what apps can help you track your time well?
I'm terrible at tracking my time when I'm working. How about you? I'm experimenting with a number of time tracking solutions to see which one works best for me so I thought I'd share a few ideas with you.
Why do You Need to Track Your Time?
I think we all agree that with any service business time is money. In the “old days,” we tracked time on paper, sometimes literally watching a clock on our desks. Then there were time tracking software applications for our computers. Today, there are applications on the Web, widgets that run on your desktop, and time trackers you can access on your mobile device.
The key to tracking time isn't really the application you use, however. It is first and foremost making a commitment to remember to log the time you spend on projects-- and not just for each client but for any work you do on your own company. Tracking time helps you analyze more than the profitability of client projects. By knowing how you spend your time each day, you can assess how efficient you are and analyze the costs of doing business or even see how you might be wasting time.
The Best Time Tracking Apps
Many of the time tracking apps these days are built right into the project management systems and accounting or invoicing applications we’re using. A few examples include:
Freshbooks: Freshbooks has a desktop widget as well as a web-based time-tracking feature where you can assign time spent to specific clients. Plus you can use an iPhone app called MiniBooks to access your Freshbooks.
Harvest: Harvest is another time-tracking/invoicing/accounts receivables and revenue management tool that also offers iPhone-based time-tracking.
5PM: The web-based project management system 5pm offers a time tracking widget and iPhone app.
You can also use a site called Tick for free or pay a fee to have it integrate with Basecamp.
The Best Web-Based Applications Just for Time Tracking
Other Web-based applications that are solely focused on tracking time include:
iTimeX: iTimeX is the iPhone app for TimeXchange.net which lets you create projects to define your time reporting relationships. You can group time reporting by team members working on a given project or you can set up project relationships between you and your clients.
TapTimer Lite: I also have the TapTimer Lite iPhone app which is free and not connected to a website. You can use it to track time for anything needing tracking; so you can use it not just for work productivity but also for tracking heartbeats per minute, workout cycles, and even contractions during labor. Counters and the stopwatch feature are saved if you happen to receive a phone call on your iPhone while you're timing something. If you're timing contractions, the company doesn't guarantee that the baby will hold on for your phone call. Just kidding!
Other Time Tracking Apps
And before you think I'm giving out nothing but iPhone love, there are apps that have gone mobile and not just for the iPhone, such as MyHours.com and 88Miles. And there are Adobe Air apps such as Klok – K-L-O-K. I like having a pervasive time tracker like Klok but haven't quite figured out how to use it yet.
Bottom Line: If time is money, knowing where your time is going will help you understand where your money is going as well. Get into the habit of tracking the time you spend on your work to better assess how well you're working, not just how long you're working for your clients. Don't let time get away from you, and don't fail to value your time.
That's all we have time for today.
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Freshbooks – http://www.freshbooks.com
5pm – http://www.5pmweb.com
iTimeX - http://www.timexchange.net/
TapTimer – http://www.tapapplications.com
MyHours.com – http://www.myhours.com
88Miles – http://www.88miles.net
Tick - http://tickspot.com/
Basecamp – http://www.basecamphq.com/