Brandon Checketts has a question, one frankly I am not equipped to answer since I don’t do projects based on time and also I am not a software developer like many of our readers. Hopefully the community can provide the input and help Brandon out.
I’ve just quit a full time job to do freelance work. I’ve been doing it for about a month now and enjoying it tons. However, I’m often in the middle of 3 or 4 projects, and am having a difficult time tracking where my time is being spent. I’m wondering what time-tracking software, applications, or methods others are using.
70 thoughts on “How do you time track?”
Here’s a number of great, free resources:
http://www.myhours.com (this is the one I use currently)
Timeless Time & Expense (for Windows)
For many, many years, I have used Timeless Time and Expense personal edition. It runs while I work and shows up as a tray icon. It’s quick and easy to use. Just right click on it to switch to a different task or to pause/resume.
There are a lot of great solutions out there.
88 Miles (www.88miles.net)
Of course there are many others as well… I personally prefer Tick – but I’m completely biased 😉
Best advice I can give you is to take a few minutes and try them all out. I’m sure there is one that will fit your needs.
I use Basecamp to manage all my projects. It rocks. The time tracking tool is pretty sweet. You can track by person and by project.
Check it out. And use the link below, I get a referal credit.
Sign Up For Basecamp
For those who prefer to simply click…
88 Miles ()
If you’re using a mac, check out:
Check out http://davidseah.com/archives/2005/09/23/the-printable-ceo/
He also has a Flash based program that will hep you track time in 15 minute chunks.
Thanks for recommending FreshBooks Gary 🙂
Just figured I’d point out that we are mid way through a redesign of FreshBooks’ time tracking service and have some pretty interesting things in store…especially for all you freelancers out there. It’s going to allow you to collaborate on work in a federated way…so you don’t have to worry about constantly logging into other people’s account to track time and progress on the projects you work on. Giddy-up.
FreshBooks rocks !
If you want to host a basecamp like web service on your server, check out ActiveCollab. It is an open source “clone” of Basecamp. We are using it in our company and it is pretty good for a pre 1.0 version.
If you’re looking for something quick and simple that actually lives on your desktop, doesn’t use Ajax or require a browser and lets you just get on with working then try out Corda from my web site. No sign up required. Totally free. Unless you happen to be feeling generous and all loved up, in which case there’s a PayPal donate button.
Thanks of all of the quick comments. I’m signing up for a few of those trials now and am hoping to find one that suits my needs. I hop back and forth between projects a lot, so I’m hoping to find one that effectively allows me to have several “projects” open at once and divy up each hour into several projects.
Here’s one I have seen recommended by people I trust.
Read about it here: http://www.msoci.com/andrea/archives/2006/09/more_time_pleas.php
Hope that helps.
actually don’t use time tracking. I tend to work for a few weeks on a project, and I don’t bill my clients by the hour usually, so I don’t track my time either. I know how much I work (2 days, 4 days, ..), and I agree a fee per project before it starts. I might be unusual in that, it probably depends on how you work.
I wrote a simple script that pops up every hour during 9am – 6pm and just has a simple dialog box. I enter the Activity, Client, Hours, and Tags, all comma seperated. It then appends that entry to a .csv file I have with a date stamp.
Then, I don’t have to remember to turn on or off some tracking software. It just pops up and asks me what I did for the past hour. I enter it and move on. Then at the end of the month, I can just open the file in Excel or whatever and get my billable hours for the month. Works great for me because I need to be reminded.
I was inspired by this post so I uploaded the script to my site, where you can download it if you want (mac only)
I’ve used TraxTime for ages and find its simplicity perfect for my time tracking needs.
Just punch in and out on the different projects and it handles time tracking for you. Also easy to adjust if you forget to punch in/out.
Then run a report to summarise the totals on different projects, and plug that into whatever billing system you use.
Use those to keep track.
I’ve been using 14dayz.com for freelance for the last 4 months quite successfully. The reports leave a bit to be desired (definitely good enough to add to invoices though) and the time tracking interface is beautiful in its simplicity and functionality.
I’ve done two posts on this. One focused on using Windows-based time trackers and a system recommended by Joel Spolsky. The other one discussed web-based time trackers.
I use a combination of basecamp and SlimTimer.
For each project in basecamp create a task in SlimTimer. When you switch projects hit start in SlimTimer.
iBiz for me.
SlimTimer.com is great.
Lifehacker had some interesting suggestions in July on logging your time:
Be sure you read through the comments to find the updates to the original
“Quick Log” script discussed in Gina’s piece.
Time tracking can be a very broad term. If your a single entity, e.g. a freelancer then slimtimer looks and works great but if your a small company I think 1time is much more suitable. The automatic reminders makes it really easy to track employee and project time. Just my 2 cents.
SlimTimer.com is really great… FREE, opens up in Sidebar on FF and IE (by far the best feature), lots of customization, but does not break down anything into Client/Case/Matter like some do. And the developer is really engaged with the community, so he responds to emails and bug requests within HOURS. Really great product, hopefully they wont be charging anytime soon (or will keep the price reasonable)
I use Linux, so I found a great open source app called Gnotime. I’ve also tried the open source project management tool that comes with Fedora Planner. If you’re like me and concerned with Windows issues, you may find these helpful.
Well Tom saved me from having to do my elevator pitch for SlimTimer, thank you very much. Also, thanks for the compliment, I do try to stay on in close touch with the user community. And no I don’t plan to charge for the existing feature set.
Slimtimer.. I just did a short spot on my podcast about it – 7 Minutes with Rex Dixon – permalink is here – http://clickcaster.com/item/view/7-minutes-with-rex-dixon-1042006 – it’s currently tracking my time as I type this.
Full day use of it tomorrow. Great program so far.
I find it far easier to spend some inital weeks working out how long it takes to do a particular task and then devise a set of standard times, then when you do a task you can decide it’s “task A” and put it down as X hours. Several advantages to doing this,
1. no complex software to fill in
2. no software to remember to fill in
3. as you get better (and therefore faster) at doing a task you don’t penalize yourself on billings due to doing it faster, as you’re billing based on it being a task, not hours spent
anyone tried studiometry?
I’m really enjoying Basecamp, but someone showed me unfuddle.com the the other day, which strikes me as basecamp with CVS support. Might be worth a look…
It ain’t web-based, but it’s free: TimeSheets Lite
Nice Excel export feature on this package. An fee-based upgrade allows a networked timesheet recording option.
I recently tried a couple of time trackers and bought Complete Time Tracking after I found a recommendation on another blog. It is decent and easy to use.
There’s another one to add to the list. It’s an online time tracking application called ToadTime. It let’s you generate invoices automatically from your time entries and it’s got a place to track tasks as well. It’s also nicely integrated with QuickBooks for anybody who needs real accounting software.
You may also want to take a look at: http://www.fanuriotimetracking.com/.
Time59 (http://www.time59.com) is a web-based timekeeping and invoicing application. Easy to use. There is a free 30 day trial, after that it is only $19.95 per year for unlimited use.
There is now a web version of Timeless Time & Expense Enterprise. It works alone or with the desktop version and uses ajax to provide a user experience very similar to the desktop version.
Don’t forget wikipeida:
There is already a list. You can add your recommendations there!
I developed a small, free, open-source interactive Ruby script able to easily log and track my daily activities:
One of my projects was to develop time tracking service with Django/Python.
Here is it:
2Fabio Cevasco: thanks for link, it’s looks very interesting for me!
This is a complete and great tool for time tracking made easy and accurate. It also works for project management.
We just launched a new service called Paymo. It’s free for small biz&freelancers, and best of all it has a desktop component (pc & mac)
If you wana check it out, go to
Since Brandon is (was?..)in the middle of 3 or 4 projects, he most likely, needs a task/project management with the time-tracking feature to make his life easier. Wrike is a great solution at this point. It allows us to manage several projects, collaborate on tasks and track time (http://www.wrike.com/blog/02/03/2008/Track_time_spent_on_your_tasks_in_Wrike) and much more. They offer reasonable for all Wrike’s features.
I found this post when I was browsing around for a good time tracker software. I found this Activity Tracker http://screeperzone.com/2007/08/09/activity-tracker-version-01-released and it does a very good job.. its also very easy for me to get reminders. Hope it helps.
Jan i tried Paymo yesterday. I tested a lot of web based services, but i love the windows widget in this one. Reports look great too. Thanks for the tip, cheers m8
We are looking for a open source web based time tracker that we can integrate with our backend. Can anyone recommend a system that is easy to modify?
We developed LiveTimer.com to be a very flexible yet easy to use online time tracking service. LiveTimer allows you to customize the classifications used for tracking your time. For instance, you could track your time against clients, projects and tasks, or opt to just use projects (these classifications can be renamed, too). There are multiple ways to track your time as well: use a timer to track time as you work, or enter your hours after the fact by the day or week. LiveTimer also includes advanced reports, user permissions, account backups and restores, and SSL security for all accounts.
Please take a look at LiveTimer.com. There’s a free 30 day trial, after which it’s just $5 a month per user.
First of all I hate owners of website advertising their own product in a way that they pretend to be users and all those of give the affiliate links to make extra money. I have been going through one link after another for the last 2 hours and let me tell you some thing. none of them is good, the best one is myhours.com , it is free right now I hope it will be free , use the free one what ever you like and wait for microsoft they come up with some thing in near future.
Wow…this is in itself an amazing list of Time tracking tools and methods!
I just thought I’d drop my $.02 in here and give a mention of TSheets.com
They’ve also recently had a webworkerdaily writeup at:
Here’s a grate, simple and free project time tracker: http://www.e-tim.org
Goodtime might be worth taking a look at: http://cortexsoft.com/online-time-recording/online-time-recording.html
Plain vanilla Online time recording.
Goodtime moved to http://www.goodtimerecording.com So the above link is out of date.
https://www.timesheets.com allows you to track any number of projects simultaneously by using timers or manual entry. The interface is super user friendly and it’s relatively inexpensive.
If you are looking for an installable version, have a look at “Xpert-Timer”. http://www.xperttimer.com
sorry…double entry…my fault..