6 Free Time Tracking Apps that Improve Your Productivity
Discover How the Best Time Tracking Apps Can Help You Work Better
Time management for freelancers is a serious subject. As a self-employed professional, you’re not getting paid for bathroom breaks, extended lunches, and all those quick peeks at Facebook. You’re making money only when you’re working and only the amount you bill for.
At some point, you’ve probably asked yourself some of the most common freelance questions:
- How much is my time worth?
- How much are certain projects really costing me?
- Am I shorting myself on billable hours?
- Can I speed up my production to shorten my workday?
- How can I prove to my clients how much time I spent on a project?
How you spend your time and how you think you spend your time are often two different things. You’re fully aware of everything that you do during a specific time frame, but unless you’re focused on the clock, you don’t always know how you’ve allocated your time on each activity.
Time tracking apps were designed to do precisely this – monitor the time you spend on individual tasks so you can pinpoint where your productivity suffers.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good time keeping app. In fact, all five of the apps in this list are 100% free.
This intuitive app is a dream come true for freelancers for several reasons. For starters, Harvest has been around for over a decade and is still going strong, so you can feel confident it won’t just disappear overnight. You can use the app to track multiple tasks within a project, even if each task is a different rate. But the most attractive part for freelancers is that Harvest is free for one user – forever.
The only catch is that you’re limited to tracking time for two projects. This shouldn’t be a problem if you only need to track time for one or two clients. But if you’re juggling a varied workload at all times, this might not be the ideal app for you unless you’re willing to pay a little.
If you want a powerful time tracking tool that doesn’t have much of a learning curve, Toggl is it. With their user-friendly interface, loads of integrations, and companion apps for desktop and mobile use, you can really get everything you want in a single app.
Toggl’s free version is a complete solution. You can tag your entries to projects or groups and manage multiple clients on the same platform. It also allows you to create custom reports that actually look nice. One of its crowning features is that the desktop app almost makes time keeping automatic. You don’t have to give as much thought to it as you do the web or mobile apps.
Toggl is free for up to five users, making it a cost-effective solution for freelancers.
Widely used by freelancers and teams alike, Tracking Time works in the background so you can focus more on your work and less on starting and stopping the timer. In the event you collaborate on team projects, the app is built to track cumulative time of all team members on a project.
The Basic plan is free for teams up to three. It includes three active projects, 100 tasks, mobile and desktop apps, and popular integrations like Basecamp, Asana, Github, and others.
This time tracking solution was built specifically for freelancers by Toptal, a freelance talent sourcing platform. This app offers one of the more complex timekeeping suites, especially considering it’s free.
The app keeps a detailed tab on your activities and delivers in-depth progress reports for all your projects. You can set up the app to take screenshots at certain intervals that you could include in an activity report to your clients.
Hands down, this is one of the most comprehensive tracking and organizational tools for freelancers. You can access every feature for as many users and projects as necessary for free.
RescueTime is well suited for freelancers who want to know how they’re spending their time, but don’t have to report their results to anyone. It’s primarily used to help you discover your existing work habits and work toward improving them.
This app doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of most other timekeeping apps for freelancers, but that’s one reason why it’s so good. Simple functionality means less time and less distraction while using the app.
RescueTime will send you a weekly report of its findings, as well as a three-month history so you can view your habits over time and see if your productivity is improving.
And RescueTime Lite is free. Forever.
FocusMe is a powerful anti-distraction app that blocks other apps and websites so you can focus, but that’s not all it does.
For starters, FocusMe includes a built-in Pomodoro timer that breaks your workday into intervals automatically – 25 minutes of work, then a short break. You can also schedule break reminders within the app to help you remain energized and refreshed throughout your day.
One of the most beloved features is its ability to track how much time you spend on certain apps or websites, including Word, Facebook, or email. It gives you an easy to read breakdown of your time allocation so you can get a better idea of where you can make adjustments. With these data-driven insights, you no longer have to make “gut instinct” decisions on how to improve your productivity.
You can try FocusMe for Windows, Mac, and Android free for 14 days. If you have an Android device, you’re in luck – the Android app is free forever!
To make your time tracking effective, you should perform two time audits: one for how you’re currently working and one for how you want to work. A time tracking app audits how you’re already using your time. For the most accurate results, it’s best to use the app for several days or weeks to get the best representation of your time management on an ongoing basis.
Then, compare that data with your own audit of how you’d like to use your time. You should get a better idea of where you could make improvements to your productivity.
There are tons of free and paid time tracking apps available, each offering a slightly different use case and features. The only way to know for sure how an app will improve your productivity is to try it for yourself.
There is no single “correct” solution for everyone, and it might take some fine tuning to find the one that works best for you.
Want to know how to do a time audit to improve your productivity?