We’ve all heard the adage “time is money,” and it’s never more true than when you’re a freelancer paid hourly. Not only does the number of hours you work directly correspond with how much you make, you’re also the only one tracking these hours. You don’t have a boss to tally up your time sheets or payroll department calculating your paychecks. It’s up to you to carefully manage your time and make sure you get paid for every second.
To do this, you can definitely use the old pen-and-paper method, but that often leaves too much room for human error, especially among those of us who are slightly terrible at math (ahem). A mistake can cost you hundreds of dollars, so many freelancers choose to outsource the burden of time-tracking to apps designed to do it better, faster, and more accurately. Here are a few of our favorites.
Best Time-Tracking Apps for Personal Productivity
If you struggle with procrastination, focus, and recording your hours, this app makes sure you track them. Available on Android and iOS, the Productivity Challenge Timer uses the Pomodoro Technique to segment work into intervals.
The free version of the app lets you designate up to four separate projects, and breaks down your work sessions into smaller chunks. You’re reminded to take a 5-minute break every 20 minutes, and the app aggressively reminds you to get back to work if you’re still slacking after the break is up. Total time spent on each project is also tracked, although you can’t break it down by day, week, or month.
For those who work from home and constantly have the black hole of the internet lurking one unopened tab away, an app like this can be great for keeping you on track.
This time-tracking app has a design as simple as its name. Hours offers easy-to-use time tracking without any unnecessary features getting in the way.
With both an iOS app and a web app that sync together, Hours allows you to create a visual timeline to easily identify dead time throughout your schedule, create reminders, and set rules about time rounding. You can easily switch timers and projects, and access total values for each one.
The only downside to Hours may be that Android lovers are out of luck. To date, the app has only been available for iOS.
In the interests of equal-opportunity time-tracking, here’s one just for the ‘droids. Timesheet offers users a connected web-based and Android app to effectively track time between different projects. They can easily see a breakdown of total time into daily, weekly, and monthly totals for each project or client.
Timesheet also allows you to assign rates to each client or project, so that you can see just how much money your time ends up making you.
Best Employee Time-Tracking Apps
Although it’s not cool to brag, we’d be remiss if we didn’t toot our own horns a little bit here because QuickBooks has one of the most robust time-tracking apps out there.
The QuickBooks’ time-tracking feature allows you to easily track not only the time you spend on a project, but the time your employees and contractors spend, too. They can fill out their hours through QuickBooks Online from any computer, making it ideal for remote or site-based work.
You can also easily generate reports, including:
- Recent/Edited time activities
- Time activities by customer
- Time activities by employee
- Unbilled time
TSheets is a time-tracking app that seamlessly integrates with QuickBooks. Your employees can use it to track their hours and submit timesheets from any device. You can assign jobs, locate your employees with GPS (no more “Are you at the site?” texts!), and even run reports to figure out where your time and money is best spent.
TSheets is free if it’s just you using it, and you can add up to 99 additional users for $5/month per user, plus a $16/month base fee.
BillQuick also plays nicely with QuickBooks, and users love it for the additional features it offers. It’s a cloud-based system which allows for easy time-tracking, with added bonuses like expense reporting, receipt recording, and report generating.
These features do come with a cost, however. BillQuick starts at around $8/month per user, and goes up depending on which functions you need to use. However, it allows for some customization, so you don’t pay for features you don’t use.
No matter which app, program, or system you choose to track your time and that of your employees, always remember the end goal: to free up more of your time to work.
Make sure you avoid apps with hard-to-use interfaces, complicated time-entry processes, or challenging reports. There’s no use spending tons of your time on an app designed to track it.