So, you’ve decided to invest in a time tracking tool. That’s great! Implementing a time tracking tool is one of the best ways to become more productive and profitable as a freelancer. When it comes to time management, a little planning goes a long way.
But with so many different time tracking tools on the market, which one should you choose? In this article, we will compare three of the most popular time tracking tools for freelancers to help you understand which one will best suit your needs.
Ready? Let’s take a closer look at each tool.
With over 5 million users, Toggl is one of the most popular time tracking tools on the market. It’s easy to use and can be accessed from any device, making it a great choice for freelancers who work remotely.
Toggl also offers a variety of integrations with other software — so whether you work as a freelancer or part of a small team, this app will suit your needs well.
- Time tracking — timer mode, manual mode, calendar mode
- Tracks in the background
- Auto-tracker reminds you to start the timer
- Pin favorite and frequently-used entries
- Integrates with your calendar
- Offers both desktop and mobile app
Pricing: Toggl offers a free plan for up to five users, then plans that start at $9 per month. You can choose to pay monthly or annually.
Integrates with: Asana, Evernote, GitHub, Jira, Google Calendar, Notion, Slack, and 100+ others.
Loved by companies like Volkswagen, Amnesty International, ACLU, and more, Harvest is a time tracking tool that’s simple to use and has robust features. With Harvest, you can track time by task, client, or project, and then export your data into beautiful reports.
Harvest puts a particular focus on budgeting and expenses, presenting all of the relevant time and money data in a way you can understand at a glance. Plus, their time tracker is a convenient add-on that sits in your toolbar and can be toggled with one click.
- Time tracking by task, client, or project
- Reporting features let you export data into beautiful reports
- Budgeting and expense features help you stay on top of your finances
- Helpful invoicing feature accurately translates your time data into neat bills
Pricing: Freelancers pay $0 for one user and two projects at a time, but more than one project requires the Pro plan which costs $12USD per month (after a 30-day trial).
Integrates with: Trello, Basecamp, QuickBooks Online, Asana, Slack, Stripe, Xero, and more.
Naturally, Day.io is our top recommendation to freelancers; not just because it’s ours, but because it works. Welcome to the World’s Best Employee Time Clock App — a simple time tracking solution for freelancers and businesses that won’t clutter your screen or get in the way of your tasks.
Day.io is a desktop app that works in real-time to seamlessly track your time. With offline capabilities and five different ways to clock on, time tracking has never felt so accessible! Moreover, you can let go of any security worries and trust the four-point security system that protects you from data theft and fraud.
- Time and project tracking. With Day.io, you can track not only the time you spend on a task, but also the project and client associated with it. Your projects remain organized and accessible, so you can always be aware of your progress and billing status.
- Schedule setting. You can set schedules for your workday, ensuring that time tracking never interrupts your flow. Simply clock in and out according to the tasks you’re working on, and Day.io will take care of the rest!
- Voice command touchless clock on. The Day.io app allows you to register your voice and clock on without having to press a single button or screen. Alternatively, you can use the face ID feature which unlocks in 0.3 of a second.
- Offline capabilities. Don’t let a little internet connection stop you from tracking your time! Day.io works offline, so you can always clock in and out, regardless of your location.
Pricing: Plans start at $89 per month, only increasing if you have more team members. This gives you access to all features and excellent support.
Integrates with: Namely, SAP, ADP, OKTA, OneLogin, Microsoft Azure, and others being added all the time.
Choosing the best time tracking tool for you
As a freelancer, you have a fair bit of freedom when it comes to time tracking tools; after all, you aren’t trying to manage a company of 50+ employees. Still, you need to find a time tracking tool that will be both effective and efficient for you.
There are a few things you should take into consideration when choosing a time tracking tool:
What is the cost?
Some time tracking tools don’t take the size of your team into consideration, so you end up paying more for features you will never use. Try to look for a tool that offers a variety of pricing plans, so you can find the one that fits your budget.
What features does the tool offer?
Time tracking tools come with different features, so make sure to find one that has the ones you need. For example, if you need to track time spent on specific projects, make sure the tool you choose has that feature.
It’s also a good idea to find an app that is fairly simple in terms of features, as you won’t need extensive invoicing capabilities or mass employee management tools.
How easy is the tool to use?
This is especially important if you aren’t very tech-savvy. Make sure the time tracking tool you choose is easy to learn and easy to use on a daily basis. After all, time is the resource you are trying to save with a time tracking tool, so you don’t want to waste time trying to learn how to use the app.
Benefits of time tracking for freelancers
If you are a freelancer who gets paid on a per word basis, you may be under the impression that time tracking is of no use to you. Why track time if you are simply going to submit a certain quota of words?
The truth is, time tracking can be immensely valuable to freelancers in a number of ways. Here are three of the best.
1. Time tracking can help you become more efficient.
When you track the amount of time you spend on each task, you begin to get a better sense of how long different projects take you. This information can help you to better budget your time and become more efficient in your work.
2. Time tracking can help you avoid burnout.
Freelancers are particularly susceptible to burnout, as they often do not have the same level of job security as those who work in traditional employment arrangements. Time tracking can help you to be more mindful of how much time you are spending on your work and to take breaks accordingly.
3. Time tracking boosts your productivity.
In addition to helping you become more efficient and preventing burnout, time tracking can also boost your productivity. When you are able to see the amount of time you are spending on different tasks, you can begin to focus on those that provide the most value. This will help you get more done in less time.
So, even if you aren’t billing by the hour, time tracking has plenty to offer in the way of productivity and a more efficient workflow.
Making the most of time tracking as a freelancer
When you choose a time tracking app and get it all set up on your computer or phone, it can be a bit of a hassle to remember to start and stop the timer each time you switch tasks. But, with a little practice, it becomes second nature — and you’ll likely find that tracking your time more closely makes you more productive overall.
To close out the article, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your time tracking tool:
- Start tracking your time from the very beginning of your next project. Beginning your new habit straight away will help you get a sense of how long different tasks usually take so you can better estimate future deadlines.
- Review your time logs regularly and look for ways to optimize your process. For example, if you notice that you’re spending a lot of time on email, you might want to try using an app like Boomerang to help automate some of those tasks.
- Set reminders to start and stop the timer as needed. Regular reminders like the ones offered by Day.io can help you stay on track and ensure that you’re capturing all of your billable hours.
- Time absolutely everything. This might seem a bit excessive, but if you’re aiming to be as productive as possible, it can be helpful to track not just the time you spend on billable tasks, but also things like breaks, phone calls, and time spent checking email.
As a freelancer, there’s an emphasis on ‘free’ — you are at liberty to work how you want, when you want, and where you want. Even so, tracking your time is essential to getting an accurate picture of how you’re spending your day and where you might be able to improve.
There are a number of time tracking tools out there; Toggl is a great option for freelancers who want to go all-out with integrations, while Harvest is ideal for those who need more features and flexibility. Day.io is perfect for freelancers who want a tool that is clear-cut, intuitive in design, and easy to set up.
No matter which tool you choose, make sure to take the time to learn how to use it properly. Time tracking can be a valuable tool in helping you become more productive and efficient — but only if you use it correctly!