10 Best Time Tracking Tools to Manage Freelancers
Drew Hendricks
JAN 14, 2016 11:35 AM
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10 Best Time Tracking Tools to Manage Freelancers

by Drew Hendricks

Everyone who has ever worked a job knows that time is money. Employees log hours for a paycheck, and businesses track hours to ensure that work is getting done at a steady pace. It’s in the interest of both parties to track time accurately and ensure that each gets the benefits of completed work hours.

For freelancers, the benefits of time tracking two-fold. On one hand, it shows their employers that hours of work are, in fact, completed, which is important when freelancers are working outside of an office. On the other, working on a computer can be a distracting workstation, especially for freelancers, who don’t always have someone watching over their shoulder to keep them on task. Time trackers are a great tool to keep freelancers focused, a gentle reminder that they are “on the clock” in a literal sense.

With so many different time tracker options out there, it’s hard to know which of these tools are the best. To help you, here’s a list of 10 of the best time tracking tools to manage freelancers out on the market today:

1. Toggl

Toggl is a popular choice for time trackers and for good reason. It’s a powerful tool and easy to use. Like many apps on this list, you can label time segments by project, activity, or client, keeping organization simple. Toggl also offers a large amount of integrations, which is an incredibly useful feature. However, Toggl’s bread and butter is their desktop app, which makes time tracking practically automatic. The app can read user activity, activitate with certain keywords, pause the timer if the computer is idle, and send out reminders. This helps freelancers focus on their work instead of using the time tracker itself.

2. Freshbooks

Freshbooks is a tool more focused on creating invoices, but it also has a great time tracking feature. Perhaps most useful, the tool provides progress bars for projects, so you can see how much progress you’ve made and how many hours you’ve logged and how that compares to your initial project estimate. Freshbooks is also a great tool for teams, and any team member can log time on a specific project. Team progress is then updated in an easy-to-read calendar view. Freshbooks offers an iOS and Android app, so you can log hours from anywhere as well. Plus, handling those invoices is a great perk for a time tracking tool and simplifies logistics for freelancers.

3. TopTracker

A new tool released by the freelance talent network Toptal, TopTracker may just be the next must-use tool for freelancers. Why? It’s customizable. Not only does it track time, boast an elegant interface, and increase productivity on an individual level as well as overall team performance, but it’s remarkably flexible. You can choose what can be tracked and how often, whether it’s screenshots, webcam pictures, or written descriptions of what has been worked on. Freelancers can even blur parts of photos, ensuring that the invasive aspect of time tracking is minimized, and everyone on the team is comfortable with the tool. Plus, TopTracker is a completely free and standalone product, meaning it isn’t integrated into any job platform and can be used fully, no strings attached.

4. Harvest

Along with Toggl, Harvest is one of the most popular time trackers out today. As you can guess, it’s well designed, and it’s smart. It can understand different inputs for the same amount of time (2.30 v 2 1/2, for example). Plus, the tool is well organized, and project managers can easily see progress overviews and are a click away from details. Project updates can then be exported in different reports and graphs that are simple and effective. Harvest also offers numerous integrations that make the tool compatible with a lot of other products, making a freelancer’s virtual tool belt a continuous loop that is easy to work with.

5. Paymo

The ultimate project management tool, Paymo allows users to track time, create invoices, manage teams, create reports. You name it. Okay, Paymo doesn’t come with soft serve. Paymo offers lots of customization when creating timesheets, so the tool is a great fit for numerous types of businesses. Users can also save projects as templates to make future use even simpler, and Paymo has a customizable dashboard that allows users to view the most important information with a glance. Paymo is a reliable tool and a good choice for working with your freelancer(s).

6. Freckle

The self-described “friendly online time tracking software,” Freckle wants to make time management as easy as possible, and it is fairly successful in that effort. The tool is easy to use and is visually appealing with fun animations and daily colored pie charts visualizing your tracked time. Freckle has made a bunch of little tweaks to simplify the user experience, such as your cursor immediately being in the box to log that day’s hours upon opening the dashboard. A particularly useful tool regarding project management that Freckle offers is allowing users to set a budget cap for a project. The tool can then send out notifications to users once projects cross customizable budget thresholds. Freckle is a more fun and light-hearted way for freelancers to track time while maintaining all of the usefulness.

7. RescueTime

While not specifically catered to businesses, RescueTime is a great time tracking tool that allows users to understand where their time goes and how they can improve their productivity and performance. RecueTime tracks the time you spend on any website or application and gives you a complete picture of where your time goes. You don’t even have to turn it on. RescueTime just runs automatically in the background. Once users look at their habits, they can choose to set time limits on certain activities or block out website altogether. RescueTime can help freelancers figure out where their personal productivity lulls and help them put on blinders to stay on task.

8. Timely

Timely calls itself “the time tracking app to end time tracking.” While I’m not entirely sure what that statement means, nor entirely sure it’s valid, Timely is unquestionably useful. Timely doubles as a scheduling and time tracking tool. Not only can users track hours spent, but they can track hours scheduled. This helps freelancers and managers notice if someone has too much on their plate, making Timely a good choice for a project management tool.

9. Wrike

Wrike offers a time tracking tool, but the tool is much more than that. Wrike is a robust management tool and has numerous features to aid productivity. Wrike has a live chat, so teams can communicate, and the tool allows teams to set up goals and break them down into smaller tasks. These tasks can be assigned to specific freelancers to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding responsibilities. Wrike can also translate emails directly into tasks, saving users that hassle and ensuring that they don’t forget to log it. Wrike is a great tool to stay in contact with freelancers and ensure that the necessary work is getting done.

10. Chrometa

Chrometa has been around for nearly 7 years and, and with that age comes refinement. Chrometa is a passive time tracker, meaning that users don’t have to log time manually. Chrometa automatically records how long you’ve been working on a particular topic. Spend 4 minutes reading an article online? Chrometa automatically logs that entry with a brief description of what the user was doing. It even tracks the time you spend reading and writing emails and will capture the email subject as well. The tool also learns user habits. Label a specific activity as part of a larger subject or for a client, and Chrometa will automatically do that for you in the future. Of all the tools on this list, Chrometa may be the simplest to use while providing the most detailed information on freelancers’ habits.

If you’re looking to manage freelancers, be sure to check out these time tracking tools in the new year and save yourself the headache of trying to handle time management on your own. Let these tools handle the micromanagement and logistics, so you can focus on the business. Ultimately, that’s better for you and for business.


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