Time Tracking Options
By: Valarie Ward, V4G guest author
Hot take: time tracking is one of the worst parts about being a freelancer. It isn’t hard to create a template in Excel or Google Drive to track your time, but then converting that into an invoice on something like PayPal is a total chore.
Some of the most popular time-tracking services like RescueTime rely on employee surveillance and micromanaging. (Toggl, one of the options on our list, has a great anti-surveillance piece here.) For some people, having access to their own data about how they’re spending their time online helps them set boundaries on their social media use or assess how they’re doing toward productivity goals–and if that’s you, great, more power to you! But if that just feels like a digital version of having your boss watching you directly over your shoulder… you’re not alone.
We found three great time-tracking services and compared their features, costs, and integrations–Harvest, Toggl, and Clockify. *No one at A Village for Good has been paid by any of these services to write this article, so it is entirely based on opinion.
I’ve been using Harvest for nearly a year to manage my projects, and there were many things I think it got right in terms of making time tracking more user-friendly. Turns out, Toggl and Clockify have these features too!
Though the language might change slightly, all three let you organize your time by clients, projects, and tasks. Here’s what that might look like in practice:
Your client is A Village for Good. You might have other clients, too.
Your projects include each of the clients you’re working with for A Village for Good.
Your tasks or activities are the things you do.
Unlike apps like RescueTime, these time-tracking services don’t monitor what sites or apps you’re using during that time. You can simply:
- Start the timer from your browser, a browser extension, or the mobile app
- Record what client, project, and task you’re working with
- Add a note with more detail (for instance, which specific grant you’re working on)
Once you’re done, you can stop the timer just as easily as you started it. You can also edit it if you know you took a 30 minute personal call in the middle of working that you want to edit out, or if you’d like to round up to the nearest 30 minutes for simplicity.