You’re working at home or the coffee shop and have access to the Internet, so it’s easy to get distracted on Facebook or watching YouTube videos of cats. But as a freelancer, lack of time management can cause all kinds of havoc. You might get behind on a project, staying up nights (and mornings) just to catch up and your client may even question your ability to complete the project in a timely manner if you cannot get milestones done.
If you can learn to manage your time well and develop a good work ethic, you’ll be able to handle more clients and finish projects faster. Time tracking tools can help you accomplish exactly this.
What’s great about this list of time tracking tools is that they can be accessed from anywhere, so whether you’re at home working or you’re out of town and still have a couple of projects that are nearing completion, you can use these tools to track and manage your time, as opposed to time tracking software which can only be used on one computer. Web based time tracking tools are superior to time tracking software in that regard.
Google Calendar is a great place to start if your calendar isn’t that full yet. You can set up daily task lists and separate calendars for each client or project that you’re working on. You can also integrate this with your iPhone or Android to receive notifications and reminders on your phone.
If you regularly work with or sub-contract work out to other freelancers, Toggl is the time tracking tool for you. It allows for teams of five people or more (the Pro account allows hundreds of team members) to work on the same project. Its time management tool lets you view how you actually spend your time, and other tools allow for time-tracking and accurate invoicing. You can also import projects from Quickbooks and FreshBooks.
Specifically geared towards small businesses and uniquely suited to the timesheet and billing needs of creative agencies, Function Fox is a simple and easy to use time tracking tool. Each timesheet includes a stopwatch timer and instant reporting on projects, while more advanced features offer dashboards, iCalendar integration, project calendars/scheduling and to-do lists with built-in stopwatches.
If you do have a problem with time management, this may be the time tracking tool for you. Rescue Time claims to recover nearly 4 hours worth of productive time per week, per person. How could it possibly do that, you ask? Well, in addition to offering a Focus Mode, as well as automated time tracking, you can voluntarily block the sites you know you waste time on. At the end of the day, you’ll get a report that shows how you spend your time and attention.
My Hours is a simple time management, timesheet and time-tracking tool. You can track your projects in real-time or enter time based on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. For the moment, this time tracking tool is free.
Paymo is a web app with many features, including invoicing and project management features, but it has time-tracking features that are more robust than most other options on the market, with web-based and desktop versions, and iPhone and Android apps all available. Paymo has free and premium plans but its time-tracking features are free.
Harvest lets you track time and send invoices from one application. This includes a simple timesheet and timesheet approval, so both you and your client will save time tracking yours.
Klok offers true time tracking; drop the app into your workspace and when you start working on a separate project or task, that timer stops and another one starts. This is a great tool for working on multiple tasks or projects at the same time. You can also connect Klok to other time tracking systems like Harvest and FreshBooks.
Knowable a project management tool that allows others to keep track of projects that you’re doing for them. For a minuscule monthly fee, you can set up boards, add tasks to those boards and share them with your clients. You can even export these as RSS feeds to your client’s email address. It’s a great way to keep your client up-to-date on how you’re progressing on a particular project.
Track your time and leave the time sheets to someone else with Slimtimer. It works sort of like a countdown timer; you create a task in the Slimtimer, click on the task to start the clock, and again once that task is finished. You can even run reports that reveal how much time you’re spending on tasks.
Deceptively simple, Ronni allows for invoicing, estimates, project management and payment integration. Time-tracking is built-in and you can generate invoices directly from active projects.
In addition to a time tracking and invoicing tool, you can use Curd Bee to brand your invoices and profile. Upload your company logo and modify the colors to fit your brand to stand out. This tool is also great because you can accept payments online through Google Checkout or PayPal.
The wonderful thing about using tools like these is that, if you’re not that great at managing your time now, you’ll learn to be. Many of these tools show you how much time it takes to complete a project or task and a handful of them will show you how much time you’re wasting — important information for any freelancer who struggles to stick to the task at hand.