The Complete Guide to Time Tracking

Alexandra Martin

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Alexandra Martin

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21 minutes

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Time tracking: the good, the bad, the ugly

Time perception is tricky. Have you ever had the feeling you’ve been slaving away for hours only to find that barely an hour has passed? Since our perception is subjective, we need an objective way to evaluate how we spend our time. This is where time tracking comes in handy.

Time tracking is the measurement and documentation of time spent on any kind of activity. Time tracking and its success is a matter of perspective and company culture. If employers use it as a tool of control, then it stifles employee creativity and motivation. If employers use it right, then it fosters productivity and engagement, and it boosts profitability. Time tracking is multifaceted. You can be its staunch supporter thanks to all its benefits, be wary of it due to its misuse, but also be oblivious of your personal flaws as a productive individual – all at the same time.

The good

Think of time tracking as a fine-tuning method for a more productive and intentional way of living.

On a personal level, keeping track of your tasks and endeavors will give you a better picture of your time spent outside your workplace. If you can’t remember what you did last week, then that’s a problem. When you track your activities, you are basically sketching out all your commitments. You can sift through them and gain insight into what truly matters, e.g. quality time with your loved ones, honing that skill or craft, and so on.

On a professional level, there’s a plethora of time tracking benefits both for companies and employees:

If you want to boost your productivity exponentially, tracking time gives insight into optimal patterns of work throughout the day to assist employees in work-from-home environments. Optimal patterns of work – besides external factors like child-rearing and quiet hours – include the influence of your circadian rhythm on mental efficiency, the post-lunch dip with regards to performance, and the impact of time of day on cognitive functions. One simple example is the morning lark/night owl paradigm. Some people are extremely productive in the morning, while others get in the zone in the evenings. When do you engage best in deep work? When should you avoid the post-lunch dip? Time tracking can give you an objective answer, allowing you to optimize your productivity, which will in turn give you a major confidence boost.

Whenever you track your time, you remind yourself that effort trumps talent. The truth is that you have to put in the hours to get things done. After you track your time for a while, reflect on your accomplishments. Scratch the 10,000 Hour Rule but pat yourself on the back when the project you’ve been toiling for weeks finally pays off. When you are aware of all the hard work you are putting in, accountability comes as a by-product. This in turn leads to a feeling of greater responsibility towards your own work. You become aware of your contribution and role in that project you’ve been working on with your team.

Another benefit is that it increases profitability. Time tracking makes perfect business sense. It’s great proof of work. Not only does it identify top performers (and even reward them), but also spots possible scope creep, project inconsistencies, miscommunication, and poor time/budget estimates. So, time tracking can also be used as a metric to assess your company’s turnover rate (employees’ intention to quit).

Speaking of turnover intention, that also happens when employees feel overworked. This is why time tracking facilitates workload distribution. Managers see which employees are under or overbooked, and can make adjustments to their workload. Moreover, it allows you to manage and work on multiple projects at once. By consistently tracking your time, you can tell how many hours you can or should put in for a specific task or project. It helps you (re)iterate. No more guesstimates – time tracking improves project estimation.

Another benefit to bear in mind is that it reduces multitasking and distractions. When you track time on a set task, your brain won’t feel like switching between tasks as often since it’s a hassle to keep adjusting your timesheet entries. Whenever your mind wanders, you can glance at the timer and remind yourself of the task at hand. So, in a sense, time tracking also increases employee wellbeing. It reduces the chance of burnout. It reminds you to take a break, to rest, not to overwork yourself. Make sure you take a short break every hour or so. When working remotely, time tracking can give you the cue when to call it a day.

The bad

So, if time tracking is such a boon to employees, then why won’t more people do it? A 2021 study shows that employees are more likely to pretend they are working when employers track their productivity. When a time tracking system is first adopted, employees tend to be overly conscious of this fact – some might feel as if they’re being watched or spied on. What makes time tracking so hard is a matter of perception instilled mostly by fear:

Fear of micro-management. Employees don’t want to track their time because they feel micromanaged. There’s a sense of distrust, and employees feel intimidated if constantly evaluated by their immediate superior or whoever has access to their time entries. In turn, employees feel like they are less valued (and valuable). They become frustrated with their work environment. This inevitably leads to burnout or turnover intention, i.e. the desire to quit your job. Read more about the dangers of micromanaging.

Fear of privacy violation. Certainly, screenshots help you gain the ability to view what employees are working on in real-time. But there is mounting evidence that screenshots negatively affect employee trust in management, including this 3-week experiment, in which employee behavior was minutely monitored: keyboard strokes, mouse movements, screenshots snapped every 10 minutes. Yikes!

Other time tracking software features such as geofencing (a virtual set of boundaries automatically clocking the employee in and out) and geo-tracking (monitoring employees’ real-time physical location) have garnered popularity, especially in light of the pandemic. Although the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, such detailed monitoring raises legal concerns of privacy violation, as stated by US law firm Williams Mullen.

Fear of inadequacy. There are different work styles, and these particular four – perfectionists, multitaskers, imposters, and creatives – are more resistant to time tracking. It’s not out of malevolence – it’s a bit of impostor syndrome here, a bit of disorder there. Some of these employees might feel that tracking time is a tedious task. Others might feel a loss in autonomy, leading to decreased motivation. Let’s address these four different work styles by offering some advice:

Advice to the perfectionists. Implement the 80/20 Rule (aka The Pareto Principle). There have been cases when overly conscious workers would adjust or even delete time entries because they didn’t feel that their work was good enough (perfect) to qualify as “time worked”. Perfection is difficult to achieve, and you’ll be surprised that more often than not perfection is not necessary–– task completion is.

It’s also a possibility that time tracking feels daunting because mentally you feel the urge to track everything down to the microsecond (and that’s why you don’t want to do it). If that’s you, set a challenge for yourself to track only tasks taking longer than 10 minutes. Rough estimates will do. Don’t be hyper-specific – adding bulk time or using established increments (30minutes or 1hour) is good practice to overcome perfectionism. 

Advice to the multitaskers. Time block. Use a scheduling tool to block a few hours a day and let the rest of the team know you’re doing focused work. Here’s another tip – instead of having granular tasks, fuse them into more general tasks. You will at least take the task of switching between entries off your multitasking brain. Maybe you won’t have an in-depth analysis of your time allocation, but you will at least have a good idea of how long a project took.

Advice to the “imposters”. You’re not. A 2020 mental health study shows that up to 82% of employees at one point in their career doubted their achievements and abilities in spite of their great results. On top of the self-doubt, there’s a sense of being a fraud, and thus a fear of being exposed, which in turn is linked to a reluctance to track their time – especially when they feel that the time logged was barely productive. All the more reason to track it. Keep all those entries as evidence of your effort and growth. You’ll look back on certain projects and give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve done great!

Advice to the creatives. Eat that frog! You might feel like your creative talent is on a timer, or that you’re commodifying it. You might feel constrained by a 9-to-5 schedule because some of your best ideas happen serendipitously. Maybe your best work takes place in your flow state during unsociable hours. Even so, you have to be intentional about tracking time for the task at hand because it will prove insightful about finding your time frames when you are at your best.

Granted, there are micromanagers out there, especially now when working from home has led to a perceived loss of control over their employees. But that doesn’t happen as often as people would think. What good managers take from time tracking is better feedback, a clearer picture of employee performance.

The ugly

Time theft

Now here’s the ugly side of time-tracking. It’s on the opposite pole of fear of inadequacy. There’s no other way to put it… it’s cheeky and sometimes unethical. It’s called “time theft”. Time theft may sound out of a dystopian science fiction novel, but it’s actually a widespread reality in the workplace. In short, it’s stealing company time. It’s when you log more hours than actually worked, when you buddy punch for a coworker, or work on personal matters while on the clock. Caveat – this does not include necessary breaks, errands, or commutes that are compensated by the employer. 

The Office – Unethical behavior at work – Jim makes Dwight abide by the company’s “time theft” policy.

Time tracking prevents systemic time theft while encouraging employee accountability. This way, if you encounter time theft, you can examine whether the employees are being cheeky about it. Is it habitual? Is it accidental? Either way, how do you tackle time theft? Even so, understand that squeezing every drop of productivity is simply not possible.

Try at first to tackle it indirectly:

  • Boost employee morale. When highly engaged and motivated employees feel valued in the workplace, they perform better.
  • Create a culture of ownership. Employees who have a sense of autonomy are more likely to develop a positive work ethic, thus minimizing (un)intended time theft.
  • Assess whether it’s worth addressing the issue. In an 8-hour workday, the average employee is productive for about 2 hours and 53 minutes. So even if you make sure you get those 10-15 minutes of stolen time, how will you make sure they won’t waste it? 

If tackling it directly is absolutely necessary, start by addressing the issue in a one-on-one meeting. Don’t shame them in public. Reinforce the rule against time theft. Other ways to prevent employee time theft is to monitor them by using GPS tracking or geofencing, screenshots, and URL tracking, or using biometric time clocks. Still, such tracking tools pose legal concerns, such as privacy issues and surveillance.

Parkinson’s Law

You’re probably not going to get fired for this. It’s possible that both employees and managers are not even aware of it. I daresay it’s a form of unconscious time theft. Take the following example:

How do you tackle a project if you have a month to finish it? Do you fill up three weeks doing the bare minimum only to find yourself working until the wee hours of the morning to meet your deadline? You’re definitely not the only one – it’s actually more common than you would think. It’s why students start studying a few days before the exam, why employees complete their tasks a few hours before the deadline. This phenomenon has been theorized as Parkinson’s Law:

  • It’s our tendency to fill the time for work instead of actually working. For example, It’s only 11 am. I’ll just file that report after I <insert insignificant task right here>.
  • It’s our perception of how much time you deem necessary to complete a task. For example, Writing that report will probably take me 4 hours, which I don’t have right now. The deadline isn’t until next week anyway. I’ll just make time then.

Parkinson’s Law is an observation of how we’ve been cheating ourselves out of precious time. Now, you’re probably thinking this is far-fetched or that we’re implying an extreme work ethic, but hear us out.

What’s really the issue?

Perceived mental effort. Employees think that the longer a task takes to complete, the higher quality it must be. For instance, if you allow yourself a month to finish a task that could take 10-20 hours, then psychologically the task will seem more difficult and it will inevitably take the whole month to complete. So people put off completing a task because they believe it is more complex than it actually is, requiring them to be at their best – which is always tomorrow, right?

Why counter Parkinson’s Law?

Reason #1 – business impact. If a task takes about 10 hours to finish, think of creative ways to finish it in 5, and redirect the other 5 for some high-impact tasks (especially critical or high priority tasks). All these efforts accumulate in the long run, saving you time and money. Business impact benefits from the principle of working smarter, not harder. You’d be surprised that when the need arises, you can finish a similar task in a shorter timeline. It’s why building a bridge takes months or years to complete, yet in case of natural disasters, it’s rebuilt in a matter of days.

Reason #2 – intentional living. Oftentimes we feel guilty (even ashamed) about putting things off or taking too much time finishing a task. If you’re tired of slugging through your week, not feeling like you’re accomplishing much, take the bull by the horns. Challenge yourself to halve your project estimates. You’ll be more focused and you’ll be able to engage in deep work. Plus, no more burning the midnight oil a few hours before the deadline. All in all, actively working against Parkinson’s Law improves the quality of your life –– at least to a certain extent.

TIP: For a more intentional way of living, adopt the Getting Things Done® method for your personal productivity.

How can time tracking get rid of it –– or at least minimize it?

As you know by now, Parkinson’s Law is the reason why there are long meetings, since team leaders and managers assume they need a lot of time to go through every detail. Try setting 10-minute or 15-minute meetings and you will be surprised how wonderfully the 80/20 Rule kicks in. Here’s another tip for you –– time-track your meetings and review a batch of them. See which ones yielded the best outcomes and which uselessly took a lot of your time.

Parkinson’s Law applies to any work with a deadline, so by tracking your time you can make consistent improvements to your workflow. Review past projects, your timesheets history, and time tracking process in order to make predictions on how long a similar project or task would take you. If you are well aware of your tendency for unintended time theft, as in to really take your time, impose a stricter deadline to hit the brakes on your suboptimal work behavior.

Time tracking methods

Now that we’ve covered some of the benefits and pitfalls of time tracking, let’s touch on how to keep track of time.

The most basic time tracking method is using the good ol’ pen and paper. You can jot down rough estimates of your hours worked or fill in paper timesheets. If you don’t do it on a daily basis though, it can be bothersome trying to recall all the time entries at the end of the week (let alone the end of the month).

Your next option is to track your time digitally. You can manually fill in Excel timesheets and print them out. We’d say this is a slightly more efficient way than pen and paper, but there’s a long way to go to reach peak efficiency.

TIP: Here’s everything you need to know about timesheets.

If you want to record your time more granularly, you’ll have to try out some digital solutions. With time tracking software, the benefits are plenty – tracking time actually saves time (pun intended) thanks to stopwatches, adding bulk time, duplicating entries, and many awesome features. It’s easy, intuitive, and user-friendly. There are time-tracking extensions, widgets, and integrations you can use. I wouldn’t say there’s an actual con to using a digital solution, but we highly recommend using a cloud-based service.

NOTE: We’ve tested and reviewed the best time-tracking software out there, allowing you to track your time both retroactively and in real time.

If you’d like more automation to your time-tracking, so you wouldn’t even have to worry about clocking in and out or switching between tasks, try an automatic time tracking software. Automatic time tracking is effective for employees who use a laptop or a device to perform their activities. For example, if you are a digital illustrator, automatic time tracking will give you insight into your work patterns. But if you are a painter, it would probably be better to use a mobile time tracking app.

A mobile time tracking app is an absolute must in 2021. Whether you’re on the go, working from home, or back at the office, there’s no quicker setup than a few taps on your smartphone.

NOTE: Mobile time tracking apps come in many shapes and sizes. Some have a simple stopwatch and a calendar view, while others offer robust features like task management, timesheets, and active timers. Here are 8 time tracking apps to try out.

All these methods – pen and paper, digital, automatic, and mobile – help you make sense of the time you are spending on your activities. You can visualize it on a timeline. What do we mean by that? You’ve got your day/calendar view and you can see how long a task took you and how time entries all add up at the end of the workday (e.g. 6 hours and 47 minutes). Therefore, time is linear.

pomodoro flow time tracking

The Pomodoro technique at a glance

There’s another way to conceptualize time, namely in sessions or increments. You’ve probably heard of the Pomodoro technique (working in 25-minute cycles, followed by 5-minute breaks – although the increments are customizable), which is the building block of many productivity systems such as time blocking (also known as calendar blocking). The science behind the Pomodoro technique/time blocking is the reason why people remember college days as a time when they studied intensely and were super productive (also cramming through the course work, submitting papers in the nick of time – but that’s the Parkinson dilemma all over again). People learn and work better when they set chunks of time aside for specific tasks. Need to do some administrative work? Bring them all together, then start the stopwatch along with a Pomodoro countdown in order to force you to finish your admin work in that Pomodoro session.

As for how you visualize time, similar to your timeline view, you’ve got your Pomodoro sessions all adding up at the end of your workday (e.g. 8 x 50-minute work sessions). Therefore, time is incremental. However you like it, make sure you track your time. Find a system that works for you. If it’s obsolete or inefficient, time tracking can be annoying (even digital methods can be tedious if they’re outdated).

Time tracking best practices

If you’re not familiar with time-tracking, it can seem daunting at first. Therefore, we’ve compressed time tracking best practices into 10 actionable and easy-to-follow tips:

  1. Don’t track every small thing. Start the timer only if tasks take more than 10 minutes. Otherwise, it’s tedious to create tasks/projects for activities that take a few minutes, if not seconds. Imagine some of your daily entries as:
    RSVP Zoom call with Client A – 17 sec, Send email to Mr. Smith – 3 min 13 sec, Remove desk clutter – 1 min 58 sec, Sort mail – 2 min 43, etc.
    Maybe all these tasks pile up to 10-15 minutes a day at best (while tracking them wastes half the time). Don’t fall into the trap of perfectionism, tracking everything down to the nanosecond. It’s not BIG BROTHER!
  2. Don’t track 8 hours out of 8. This ties in with Tip #1. If you do so, you’ll most likely fall into Parkinson’s Law. It’s normal to take a break when needed, to let your mind wander for a few minutes, to stretch and move around for a bit. The truth is, 5-6 hours of deep work are healthier and definitely more productive than 8 hours of non-stop grinding. It’s deep work that good managers look for.
  3. Bet on idle time detection. Get a time tracking app that has this feature. If there’s a distraction while working on your task and you have to be away from the keyboard, then you don’t have to worry about the stopwatch. It will automatically detect idleness after a set amount of time, letting you keep or discard the idle time. Ours is available via the Paymo Desktop App, be sure to check it out!
  4. Account for admin time in a separate task, such as checking emails, filling timesheets, project management tasks, and so on. Set some time aside just for administrative tasks. It’s better to batch them all in one task. Although they don’t amount to billable time, they’re still an important aspect of your job.
  5. Set hourly budgets for tasks/projects. Setting hourly budgets helps you estimate how long a project will take, account for disturbances and unexpected tasks, even plan some float time (how long a task can be delayed without impacting subsequent tasks). So, after you review your work or do a project postmortem, you’ll be able to make more accurate/realistic adjustments to future projects.
  6. Add time entry notes. First, it’s great for proof of work, especially if you are dealing with nit-picking clients with demanding standards. Second, whenever you review your past projects, you’ll know what did or didn’t work. So, it will help you create and adjust your own processes and conventions.
  7. Do not incentivize time tracking! If you do so, you’re setting yourself up for failure because you’re basically giving employees the green light for Parkinson’s Law. They’ll slow their pace down to fill up as many tracked hours as possible while making sure they reap the benefits of whatever bonus you’re rewarding them with.
  8. Set tighter time limits. Be more intentional with your time. Remember the advice about cutting your team meetings down to 10-15 minutes? We’ve adopted this as a team, and I have to say, logging only 31.5 hours of team meetings over 6 months is simply awesome.
  9. Round up time entries. Remember the argument against time theft? You’d think rounding up time entries is frowned upon, but it is actually legal and regulated by the Department of Labor. Rounding up time entries makes payroll easier for certain types of work – usually consultancy-based projects like lawyers, architects, and consultants do.
  10. Compare billable vs non-billable time entries. You’ll get a clearer picture of the ratio between tasks that can be billed back to the client (thus, “billable”), such as client communication, project planning and production, revisions, and tasks that don’t depend on or relate to the client. Non-billable hours are paid by your employer, not your client. Most project management software gives you an overview of your projects, clients, and hours worked (billable and non-billable) on a dedicated dashboard.

dashboard for time tracking in paymoPaymo’s Dashboard – a clear picture of your ongoing projects

Time reporting

So, you’ve been tracking your time and you’ve got a lot of data to crunch. One way to make good use of this data is to create time reports. Good time tracking software will use all that data to give you a detailed look at how your team’s time was spent. Reviewing time spent on certain tasks in the past will give you reliable estimates for upcoming similar tasks. This way, you’ll be able to make better business decisions – but how? One actionable step after reviewing monthly reports is to make adjustments to stay on budget.

When is a good time to review time reports? As a team leader or project manager, review them at the end of the week or month. Bonus: review them every quarter, if time tracking is a metric of your OKRs. What’s at stake? For any project manager, time reports are helpful towards (team) performance reviews, course corrections, and salary raises. What’s more, they can plan and distribute tasks to avoid overbooking or underbooking, and make changes to employees’ workflows. In section 6, we’ll touch on the use (and usefulness!) of time reporting as a desirable feature/module and how that works in project management software.

TIP: Dive deeper into the benefits of time reporting for project management.

Time tracking in project management

How does time tracking tie in with project management?

When managing a project/team for successful outcomes, you have to consider three constraints: scope, time, and budget. What is it that you want to achieve, when should you achieve it, and how much money/resources do you have to spare? Most importantly, you would want to meet all your project goals within the specified timeframe. Secondarily, you would want to optimize all your resources (time included) for efficiency when meeting your objectives. Not only is time a key element of this triple constraint, but also an important resource you have to manage. It goes without saying that time tracking allows you to measure progress, spot delays, and make adjustments for better outcomes. 

Why choose a project management software with a native time tracking module instead of an integration?

That’s a great question. People might argue that with the right integrations, a basic project management app can compete against full-featured project management software. While there’s some truth in that, you want a unified system with robust software architecture, yet simple design. So, a native time tracking module would relate better with other modules, features, and elements of the project management software you are using. This means that it’s safer – the risk of data loss is lower. Also, it’s quicker to have all your modules in one place, than switch between third-party apps and integrations. But most importantly, it’s way cheaper – you are paying for one product, not a dozen.

How do you successfully adopt time tracking as a team?
Here’s a quick walkthrough of the adoption phases.

Pre-adoption phase:

1. Be straightforward with your team. Communicate all the benefits of time tracking, some of its pitfalls, and be transparent about what you hope to get out of it. Your goal is to reduce micromanagement and increase productivity.

2. Be clear about how and when time tracking takes place. Don’t do it every once in a while, otherwise, it will look shady (privacy invasion, micromanagement, etc). Make sure the team understands the process and purpose of time tracking.

3. Pilot test it for 1 month (shorter than that, they probably won’t be able to see the results). Set the start and end date of the pilot and schedule a retrospective for subsequent feedback, time tracking merits and drawbacks, personal experience, etc. Having this in mind, your employees will be more intentional about it.

4. Assign a team leader or project manager to check time entries at the end of the week. This will help with future project estimations and keep each team member accountable. 

Adoption phase:

5. Run a demo of the time tracking software you want to employ. Don’t assume everybody knows how to use it. Have them run the demo, watch tutorials, and ask any questions they might have. Teach them tips and tricks and refer them to the software’s knowledge base.

How time tracking works in Paymo

6. Make time tracking a habit from Day 1. Be enthusiastic about its adoption and let your team know that time tracking is a part of your company’s work culture. Consistency is essential if they want the pilot program to work.

Review phase:

7. Run a retrospective with your team. Ask for their feedback and thoughts. Don’t aim for perfection – 70% tracked time is an achievable goal in a pilot program. If they managed that, the pilot was successful.

Time tracking software

Time tracking features

The irony of some time tracking efforts is that they end up costing both time and money if you don’t implement a good time tracking solution. The point is to adopt time tracking software that’s as automated as it gets, so it doesn’t require too much manual work for employees. You want a tool that provides you with clear metrics and data, one that generates comprehensive reports. Otherwise, you are just tracking time, gathering data nobody is using or analyzing. 

In this sense, think of time tracking features in layers of necessity – there are core features (mandatory, non-negotiables), extra features (desirable, nice-to-haves), and optional (perks).

In essence, time tracking requires just a stopwatch, right? Not really. There’s such a competitive market for project management software and time tracking solutions that the boundary between mandatory and desirable is increasingly fuzzy. What was desirable a few years ago now is essential. You’ll have to judge for yourself which features are non-negotiable and nice-to-haves in your time tracking software:

  • Task management. The whole point of time tracking is to help you manage your project. Thus, task management is essential for any time tracking solution, no matter how straightforward it seems. So, plan out tasks in detail, monitor their progress, and collaborate with your team.

Task views in Paymo

  • Time reports. Time reporting allows you to keep clients up to date with real-time data and improve communication. What we mean by up to date is that you can create both static and live reports. There’s a visual display of data (pie chart, bar chart) besides the textual display, as granularly as you want it to be. Static reports give you a snapshot of any data you wish to include at any given moment. Whenever you share a static report, it renders a version that soon becomes old news. On the other hand, live reports give you the information in real-time, as it updates every time someone accesses and views the report.
  • Multiple time tracking methods. Besides starting and stopping the stopwatch, you would want the ability to add time entries by time interval or duration, and even add time in bulk. The cherry on top is automatic time tracking. All these were discussed in Section 2, so we won’t go into too much detail.
  • Timesheets. You are tracking your time not just for your own productivity, but for better planning and to assess the work you’ve been putting in a particular project. Even better, timesheets are great proof of work for your clients or superiors.

Here’s how you manage timesheets in Paymo

  • Invoicing. This feature is a nice-to-have that is quickly becoming a must. If your job allows it – especially if you’re a freelancer – you would want to use your time reports or timesheets to create invoices and send them straight to your client. We took invoicing a step further and launched mobile invoicing for employees on the go.
  • Dashboard. Most project management software gives you an overview of your projects, clients, and hours worked (billable and non-billable) on a dedicated dashboard. The dashboard feature steers towards visual project management, which this guide covers.

Project management software with strong time tracking capabilities may offer some features that are optional. We’ve talked about these in Section 1 – GPS tracking, geofencing, and biometric clock in/out. We have also mentioned before why choosing project management software with native modules is better than using integrations. Even so, there are specific integrations that you might want in your time tracking solution based on the work you’re doing. Again, these are more like perks.

How to choose a time tracking software

Once you’ve analyzed and settled on the features you want, you’ll want to check out their onboarding process, especially if you are planning on initiating a pilot program. Does the software you want offer a demo, tutorials, guides, or helpful tips? Does it have a knowledge base?

What is their customer support like? However IT savvy you are, chances are you’ll need customer support at least once (let alone your team). Services work checking out: email/help desk, FAQs/forum, phone support, 24/7 (Live Representative), and chat. If it offers support in other languages, all the better, in case of any language barrier.

What do other people say about that time tracking software? Read user reviews submitted on review platforms like G2 and Capterra – Google Play Store and the App Store for mobile apps – or testimonials on their company website. Sometimes tracking software may boast product awards, which can boost your confidence in the product you’re considering.

Even so, one extremely important element of your decision-making process is how much this time tracking solution will cost you. Does it offer a free plan? Where’s the pricing starting at? Does the pricing favor freelancers or teams? Some project management software charges extra for each module or each additional user, while others have a flat fee. 

After you’ve weighed all these aspects, consider the price-quality ratio. Does your budget allow it? If you don’t know where to begin, check out our articles in which we tested and reviewed some time tracking solutions:

Conclusion

There’s really no workaround time tracking if you want to increase your productivity both personally and professionally. This guide covers noteworthy benefits to time tracking regarding better work management, optimal patterns of work, consistency and hard work, employee wellbeing, business profitability, and so on. It explains people’s aversion to time tracking (and how to overcome it), and it covers aspects that go unnoticed, such as time theft and Parkinson’s Law. Next, it outlined time tracking methods and best practices. Then, it pointed out how time reporting is the logical step after gathering all your data since time reporting is an integral part of time tracking within project management. Speaking of project management, it’s best to go for a time tracking solution that offers robust work management features. All those features and how to choose a great time tracking software have been discussed in the last section of this guide.

Friendly advice – start tracking your time, and start today. I personally wouldn’t want to go back to a time prior to my time tracking experimentation.  Because I kept track of my time, I can go back months (even years!) and reminisce about challenging yet fun projects, sleepless college days, and look at my past self. So, now I can reflect and hopefully take action. It might sound lofty, but all our time tracking data is a testament to hard work, consistency, and (pro)active behavior. And there’s always room for improvement. So, pick a time tracking solution of your choice, and hit the start button. 🙌🏼✨

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