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 that you should consider when it comes to 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. There are stopwatches that can be used by manually pressing their play button whenever you start or end work on an activity.
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 time spent in apps, documents, or on specific websites is monitored automatically.
But time trackers are more than just a tool. It’s the idea behind them and the entire time-tracking process that matters. They are the main elements that can guide your work toward a well ordered 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, there are work time trackers that take occasional screenshots of your desktop to keep an eye on your work. Employees who would rather take a break now and then often avoided 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 immense 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 likely to help you determine your productivity since they can keep procrastination at a minimum and decrease distractions. Based on time reports, a project manager will even be able to see exactly which tasks are a burden for an employee and prioritize activities accordingly.
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 to divide it into billable or non-billable hours. To get paid fairly, remember that tracking your time will ultimately pay off when you bill your clients.
Additionally, it can eliminate guesstimates or awkward conversations with difficult clients who are not willing to cooperate. Why? Because you’ll have the evidence of your work measured second by second. Time tracking thus 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 a time tracker software is knowing that you have the proof of your work.
With securely stored time log reports nobody will question the work of your organization nor of 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 to ensuring the success of your projects. Overbooked employees won’t deliver the expected results, while underbooked ones could take part of the 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 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 a time tracking app, establish a system based on merit, one that rewards the employees according to the quality and the numbers 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.
- Easy to test. Perhaps one of the most important things that you should look for is the possibility to test 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 four 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 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
Paired with a desktop app and a Chrome extension that creates a time log out of the websites you visit and the time spent on each one, this time tracker helps you identify exactly when and where you’re slacking off.
If you’re not intimidated by having your work monitored all the time, you might find the random screenshots taken of your screen quite useful. This screen-monitoring functionality is helpful for a manager who wants to make sure that his remote workers are delivering the agreed-upon tasks on time and on budget.
Price: FREE with limited features;
$5/user/month Basic subscription; $9/user/month Premium subscription
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 any 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 a possibility to review desktop and webcam shots.
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 their 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. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!