A time tracker is a simple solution that can help you solve your employee productivity and time organization problems. You might have asked yourself the following questions before:
- Am I monitoring my time accurately?
- Can I track my time without too much hassle?
- Have my team members done any work on this task?
Look no further for an answer, as time trackers are the first tools you should consider when improving work efficiency.
What is a time tracker?
A time tracker is a virtual tool that you can use to measure the time spent on a task, project, or application. Stopwatches can be used manually by pressing their play button whenever you start or end work on an activity. You get real-time entries, so it’s great when working in a team. A time tracker can be part of more complex work software. Having said that, it’s super simple and easy to use.
On the other hand, automatic time trackers monitor what you’re doing on your computer without you having to click on the play button every time. It’s perfect for multitaskers or people who always forget to clock in or stop their timers. You will no longer wake up in the morning and find your timer still running. All the time spent in apps, documents, or on specific websites is monitored automatically.
But simple time-tracking software is more than just a tool. It’s the idea behind them and the entire personal time-tracking process that matters. They are the main elements that can guide your work toward a well-ordered, billable time and cost-effective project completion.
Why is a time tracker useful?
A time tracker app and time tracking tools help you keep your entire team aligned with the project and with each other’s schedule.
Displaying accurate time records contributes to increased team transparency. Provided that all team members can view the project’s timeline, they’ll see exactly who is in charge of a task, when the task started and when it’s due, and if there is any gap in the timeline where they can allocate additional tasks.
Using a time tracker is the first step any team should take toward improving project delivery. By precisely measuring employee time records, project managers will be able to make better time estimates for future projects. Previous task delays and bottlenecks are common errors that can help you anticipate project change and manage risks effectively if you avoid them in the following projects.
The truth is that you or your team members might be wasting a lot of time on unnecessary activities such as checking social media accounts or aimlessly browsing the Internet. To prevent this, time tracker tools create a sense of positive guidance that will make employees want to focus and work more efficiently without having to actually be supervised at all times. Their privacy is thus salvaged while they get a better grip on how they invest their time.
Yet, some work time trackers take occasional screenshots of your desktop to keep an eye on your work. Employees who would rather take a break now and then often avoid these. Using such a time tracker software can even keep great workers away from your company or not allow you to find the right talent to fill the open positions.
However, employee time trackers have a plethora of benefits if you’ve set certain objectives or deadlines. You can aim for anything from finishing a project until a specific date to completing a task within a set timeline. You’ll be able to concentrate on the present and gain perspective regarding the future, all while limiting your interaction with past activities that are no longer important.
As part of full-featured project management tools, time trackers are only a function that you can pair with time reports, timesheets, Gantt Charts, and other analytics. These are among the best solutions I have tried and are likely to help you determine your productivity since they can keep procrastination at a minimum and decrease distractions.
One common reason why they are the best procrastination help out there is that it gives you proof of time spent. Based on time reports, a project manager can see exactly which tasks are a burden for an employee and prioritize activities accordingly.
Note: If you like the idea of becoming a project manager, but don’t really know how to move into pm or what kind of training you need, check out this reference guide.
Are you a freelancer who’s paid by the hour? Time trackers help you get paid more and get compensated the full amount of money you deserve for your work. You can even track your work time with the possibility of dividing it into billable or non-billable hours. Remember that tracking your time will ultimately pay off when you bill your clients to get paid fairly.
Additionally, it can eliminate guesstimates, approximate reports, awkward conversations with the company, or difficult clients who are unwilling to cooperate. Why? Because you’ll have the evidence of your work measured second by second. Time tracking is a great solution that settles more than just your technical or managerial problems by providing this accounting fix as well. This is why one of the most useful benefits of using time tracker software is knowing that you have proof of your work.
With securely stored time log reports, nobody will question your organization’s work or its workers. You can use these logs in reports addressed to managers of higher authority who want to see results or might ask you to take more work.
Remember this, as task balance is key to maintaining a healthy work environment and ensuring your projects’ success. Overbooked employees won’t deliver the expected results, while underbooked ones could take part in others’ work for faster and enhanced results. Some employees might even start their time trackers to see for themselves if you’re paying them fairly for the work they deliver.
What to look for in a time tracker
There are hundreds of time trackers available on the market, but how do you choose the right one for you? Here are some factors to take into consideration before starting to work on real projects:
- User-friendly interface. You want a tool that’s easy to use, one for which your employees (even your remote workers) won’t require any additional formal training. This can speed up your work in the early stages of the time tracker’s use.
- Pricing. Consider what your budget is and if getting a time tracker will improve your work and bring you more profit to cover its costs. Otherwise, you can always stick to using a free time tracker.
- Perfect for your team. Think about the size of your team and what their needs are. Keep in mind that most people dislike time tracking. If your employees don’t see the importance of an online, top employee time tracking software, establish a system based on merit, one that rewards the employees according to the quality and the number of hours worked. Such a system provides increased fairness, more accurate paychecks, and a better job environment that will raise job satisfaction.
- Multiple device use. If you’re not always in the office, you should be looking for a time tracker that can be used on the go as well. A good time tracker will work on mobile devices and is optimized for use on various popular platforms (desktop or mobile) like Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, or as a Chrome extension.
- Pomodoro timer. This is optional but goes hand in hand with the last point. For time-tracking tools where you want to apply the Pomodoro technique, be on the lookout for Pomodoro apps or at least those with a built-in one.
- Easy to test. Perhaps one of the most important things that you should look for is the possibility of testing the app. Never rush into buying or using a time tracker without testing it together with your team first. Ask your employees for feedback and choose the best one objectively. Many time log tracker tools also offer free trials.
- Customer support. If you happen to encounter tech issues (hopefully never) or want to request a specific feature to be added to the tool, seek support that’s offered in your language of choice to avoid misunderstandings. It’s nice to have a quick and detailed interaction with the support team so that they’ll guide you on how to use the tool to its full potential and reap the benefits from it.
Examples of time trackers
Here are three of the best time trackers that you can start using today individually or together with your team:
To work at your full potential, you might need a tool that can provide both time-tracking and project management capabilities. If you’re an individual who likes to manage projects and tasks at the same time, try Paymo’s handy time tracker.
You can use the web timer to record time spent on tasks directly from your browser. First, select the project and specific task that you wish to track time for. Then, when you are ready to work, start the stopwatch. All the time entries are saved with start and end times for accurate time reports that can be used for additional reference.
If you’d rather work outside the web app, you can try Paymo’s desktop widget. Its key features include a stopwatch, the possibility to enter time manually, daily timesheet reports, time entry groupings, native integration with Adobe Creative Suite apps, and more.
Price: FREE for freelancers and individual users;
$9.56/user/month for small growing teams; $15.16/user/month for large teams when billed annually
Start tracking your time now! Create timesheets and time reports to watch your progress.
If you’re a software engineer, designer, or finance expert, you might already be using this platform to find clients. You won’t need to look further for another simple time tracker to monitor your work hours. TopTracker lets you track your activity level through detailed productivity reports. It also maintains your privacy through the possibility of reviewing desktop and webcam shots.
NOTE: If you want more control over your projects, try project management tools that can keep records of your timesheets, and help you create Kanban boards, Gantt Charts, invoices, expense reports, and more. With all their features, such management tools act as project billing software best for freelancers and small businesses—and they’re free. If you’d rather go for a quick printable invoice that you can preview and send online, opt for an invoice generator with signature capability that’s also free.
Using a time tracker shouldn’t be a burden. Nobody says that you have to track all of your activities unless your employer demands this. As a consequence, you have the choice to track only one or some of the apps and tools you use.
For all of you who spend most of your day checking emails, this is another Chrome extension that can track valuable time spent on a website, in this case, on Gmail. As one of the best productivity extensions out there, it can positively impact the way in which you manage your projects and clients.
In short, time trackers aid the process of tracking exact work hours and help you maintain productive working habits in your team. If you’re thinking about using this method, remember to establish clear guidelines and standards regarding how time tracking is done within your organization. This ensures that everyone is on the same page to support fairness and that the final timesheet reports will be accurate.
How do you handle time? Try using a time tracker and find out what benefits it can bring to you and your business. And, as always, if you found this article useful, please share it with your friends and teammates.
First published on January 25, 2018.