Tracking your time is one of the most rewarding habits you can pick up as a business owner.
Be honest: Are there days that go by when you have no idea where the time went — mostly because it feels like you haven’t gotten anything done? It could be just a matter of figuring out how your time was allocated. Instead of feeling bad about not meeting your goals or letting your to-do list grow to epic proportions, take control by recording what you’re doing throughout the day and how much time you’re spending on each task.
Tracking the time you spend performing tasks is one of the most efficient ways to boost productivity and put your day into perspective. Knowing how much time is spent doing what can give you a holistic view of how you can better budget your time, while helping you gain accountability for yourself and how you’re billing clients. Whether you’re a small business owner or a freelancer, here are four time-tracking tools to help you gain control of your workday. [6 Time-Saving Tech Tools For Entrepreneurs]
Why you’ll love it: Toggl is super easy to use, and it’s also packed with handy features to help you see where you — and your staff’s — time is spent. First, start tracking time in two steps: Enter a task, and click Start. Then, click Stop when you’re finished, and your time is automatically recorded. You can also tag and color-code tasks for a more visual representation of your day.
Features: Toggl offers day-by-day breakdowns of your tasks and times, as well as breakdowns for your team. (Administrators can also set accessibility controls to maintain employee and team privacy.) Other breakdowns include detailed reports, such as summaries, weekly reports, billing rates, billable hours and more. Toggl is also API-friendly — this means you can easily integrate with other tools your business may already be using, such as online billing software Freshbooks, project management app Basecamp and Google Chrome Web tools. The desktop version of Toggl also features an activity-tracking tool called Timeline, which tracks breaks and computer activity to help you visualize gaps in your day, distractions and other periods spent off-task.
Who it’s for: Those looking for a comprehensive, yet easy-to-use, free time-tracking app.
Availability: Web, desktop and mobile. Offline access with data syncing across devices is also available.
2. My Minutes
Why you’ll love it: My Minutes is more than time management and tracking app. It’s also about goal setting, motivation and discovering how to better allocate your time to meet those goals. To accomplish this, My Minutes uses a two-pronged “at least” and “at most” goal-setting approach. The developers of My Minutes provided the following example: If your goal is to exercise for “at least 30 minutes” but you get only 20 minutes in, then those extra 10 minutes must be spent elsewhere. However, if you spend 1 hour and 20 minutes checking your email, changing it to a goal of “at most 1 hour” frees up 20 minutes that you can use to meet your exercise goals.
Features: Nothing is ever set in stone — budget your time with minimum and maximum time goals, and then edit them as necessary to meet them. You can set up repeating tasks, daily goal notifications and alerts when you’re going over time or when you’ve almost hit your goal. My Minutes also motivates you by recording accomplishment streaks, encouraging you to keep your progress going from one day to the next.
Who it’s for: Those who need help setting and meeting their daily goals.
Availability: iOS devices only.
[For a side-by-side comparison of the best time tracking software visit our sister site Top Ten Reviews.]
Why you’ll love it: RescueTime is all about becoming more productive and efficient during your workday. It works in the background of your computer or mobile device, tracking how much time you spend on websites and applications. Based on this data, RescueTime can generate detailed reports that reveal how your activities reflect your time-management skills, how much time you’re wasting and how you’re progressing toward your productivity goals.
Features: In addition to detailed reporting, RescueTime offers many features to help you and your staff become more productive throughout your workday: weekly email summaries with productivity scores, the ability to set daily goals, notifications when you’re spending too much time on a particular activity, daily accomplishment highlights, and more. In addition to monitoring computer and mobile behaviors, RescueTime can track offline activities — such as how much time you spend in meetings and away from your computer — and block distracting websites that hinder productivity.
Who it’s for: Those who need help monitoring time spent on their devices and figuring out their biggest time wasters.
Availability: Mac, Windows, Android and Linux
Why you’ll love it: Paymo is an all-in-one time-tracking, project-management and online-billing solution. Unlike many time trackers, Paymo’s time-tracking platform not only measures how much time is spent on a task, but also records start and end times for to-the-minute accuracy. Recorded times can then be used to help manage individual and team projects, and accurately bill clients accordingly.
Features: This cloud-based solution starts with a dashboard to give you an overview of your tasks, projects, invoices and milestones. The dashboard also shows your staff’s performance using weekly and monthly charts, for an easy glance at how your company’s time is being spent. Tracked time can then be used to create time sheets, which can be used to better manage projects, quote estimates and create online invoices. Paymo can also create customized reports, such as time-sheet snapshots during a particular period or live reports based on real-time data.
Who it’s for: Those who want to streamline project management, time tracking and online billing using a single Web app.