Discover How the Best Time Tracking Apps Help You Work Better
Time management for freelancers: a serious subject for anyone striking out on their own.
And can mean all the difference between spinning wheels or rising to the top of the industry.
As a self-employed professional, no one pays you for your bathroom breaks, extended lunches, or messing around on Facebook. And getting lost in the freedom of an independent contractor will not do your business any favors.
You only make your money when you actually streamline time into productive activities you can bill.
Do You Know Where Your Time Actually Goes?
Because how you spend your work time on a daily basis…
And how you THINK you spend your time…
Are often two very different animals.
Sure, you have a basic awareness of everything you’ve managed to get done during a specific time frame. But unless you’re constantly focused on the clock or jotting down the numbers, it’s hard to have a realistic picture of how you allocate your time on each activity.
These time tracking apps are designed to monitor the time you spend on individual tasks accurately and easily…
So you can pinpoint where your productivity suffers and find low-hanging fruit for instant boosts in work performance.
Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get a good time-keeping app logging your computer usage.
In fact, 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 already and is still going strong. So you can feel confident it won’t just disappear overnight.
Use the app to track multiple tasks within a project, even if each task is billed at a different rate.
The best part, especially for newer freelancers still trying to gain ground, is that Harvest is free for one user – yes, forever.
The only catch?
The free version limits you to tracking time on only two projects.
This won’t be a problem if you only need to track time for one or two clients. But if you’re juggling a variety of clients and a substantial workload around the clock, it may not be the ideal app unless you’re willing to pay a little.
Want a powerful time tracking tool that doesn’t come with much of a learning curve?
Toggl is a great choice for newbs.
With their user-friendly interface, loads of integrations, and companion apps for desktop and mobile use, you get all your simple needs filled in a single app.
Toggl’s free version is a complete solution. Tag your entries to projects or groups and manage multiple clients on the same platform.
It also allows you to create custom reports that look pretty nice.
One of Toggl’s crowning features is a desktop app that almost makes time keeping automatic, allowing you to put it to use with much less thought compared to web-based or mobile time tracking apps.
Toggl is free for up to five users, so it’s a pretty cost-effective time management solution for freelancers.
Widely used by freelancers and teams alike, Tracking Time works quietly in the background.
So you can focus more on your work and less on starting and stopping the timer as you go.
Need to 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. That includes three active projects, 100 tasks, mobile and desktop apps, and popular integrations like Basecamp, Asana, Github, and more.
This free time tracking solution was built specifically for freelancers by Toptal, a freelance talent sourcing platform. They offer one of the more complex timekeeping suites, especially considering it’s a no-cost app.
The TopTracker 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 and include them as activity reports to your clients. Nice!
Hands down, this is one of the most comprehensive tracking and organizational tools for freelancers.
And you can access every feature for as many users and projects as necessary 100% free of charge.
RescueTime is a time tracking app well-suited for freelancers who want to know how they’re spending their hours but don’t have to report the metrics to anyone.
It’s primarily used to help you gain a more realistic perspective of existing work habits. So you can work toward improving them.
This app doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that come with other timekeeping apps for freelancers.
But that’s one reason why it’s a great choice. Simple functionality means less time and less distraction.
RescueTime will send you a weekly report of findings, as well as a three-month history so you can view your habits over time and see if your productivity is improving.
RescueTime Lite is free. Forever.
FocusMe is our own productivity software, a powerful anti-distraction app that blocks other apps and websites so you can force yourself to focus.
But that’s not all it does.
For starters, FocusMe includes a built-in Pomodoro timer, breaking your workday into intervals automatically.
If you’re unfamiliar with Pomodoro, it’s a strategy of dividing work up into 25-minutes work blocks, interspersed by short breaks for a highly-productive work rhythm.
You can also schedule break reminders within the app to help you remain energized and refreshed throughout your day.
One of the most popular features is the automatic computer tracking.
Take one quick peek and discover how much time you spend on certain apps or websites, including Word, Facebook, or email.
This data provides an easy-to-read breakdown of your time so you can spot opportunities for adjustment and optimization.
Data-driven insights mean no longer making “gut instinct” decisions on how to improve your productivity.
FocusMe for Windows or Mac is only free for 14 days.
But if you have an Android device, you’re in luck – the Android app is free forever!
FocusMe also offers team solutions for growing organizations. Learn more here.
Time Tracking Apps Answer Some of the Most Common Freelance Questions:
How much is my time worth?
Keep accurate records of how much time you’re spending on different tasks and you can break it down to figure out what you’re really earning.
You may find those “quick peeks” of social media are a lot more expensive than you thought!
How much are certain projects really costing me?
Most freelancers tend to underestimate how long it really takes to get a project done. As a result, they often underbid and take too long to do it.
A good time tracking app will give you more realistic expectations and metrics you can use in future proposals.
Am I shorting myself on billable hours?
Again, time tracking should never be a guessing game. Track everything you do with hard data.
Can I speed up my production to shorten my workday?
When you understand your time better, you can focus on earning more by either becoming more efficient or increasing your rates by bidding higher.
Set challenges for yourself and try to beat your own metrics.
It may surprise you how fast you can get things done if you push yourself.
How can I prove to my clients how much time I spent on a project?
Time tracking apps create accountability.
Take screenshots or produce reports and send over to your clients with your invoices.
Peace of mind, less friction, and more client confidence in the freelance services you deliver.
Get Started on the Path of the Highly-Productive Freelancer
To make your time tracking more effective, the first thing you should do is perform a time audit and eyeball how you’re currently working.
Your time tracking app creates a perfect audit of how you’re already using your computer.
For the most accurate results, use the app for several days or weeks and get a comprehensive representation of your time management over an ongoing basis.
Then, analyze that data and decide what changes are needed to perform at your max.
A Proper Time Tracking Audit is An Opportunity for Leaps and Bounds in Productivity.
Of course, there are tons of free and paid time tracking apps available besides these ones.
Each offers a slightly different use case and its own special features.
There is no single “correct” solution for everyone, and it might take some fine tuning to find the one that works best for you.
The only way to know whether it’s a good time management solution to improve YOUR productivity?
Try One Out!
(It’s certainly not something you want to get caught procrastinating.) 😉
Want more information on doing a time audit to improve your productivity?
You can also watch this video to learn more about how our time tracking software works: