14 great freelance time tracking tools

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June 9, 2021
5 minute read

As a freelancer, understanding how you’re spending your time is critical—especially if you’re billing by the hour. The wrong method of time tracking could significantly hamper your profitability and efficiency, so it’s not worth the potential error.

Why freelancers need to track time

Freelancers should keep track of time for various reasons:

Revenue: If you bill hourly, you’re going to need to track the amount of hours you’re working so you’re paid accordingly. As a business owner, you need to be conscious of making sure you're billing fairly for the work you do.

Efficiency: If you’re working on a tight deadline, you need to ensure you’re making the most out of your time. Freelancers also need to have an idea of how long it takes for them to finish each step in a project.

Profitability: If you’re paying employees, or for a service, you need to calculate how much value these bring you in accordance with time.

Best practices for tracking time

Although we have many reasons to track time, it does take some work to manage properly. Some good practices to think of include:

  • Thinking about when you were most productive: Take the habits that work best for you, and instil it in your time tracking. This will help you be more comfortable and productive.
  • Working on tasks one at a time: This practice will help you stay focused on a single task so you’re not worrying about everything else. As you finish each task, you’ll build momentum towards getting more work finished.

Both of these practices can also help you get into a flow state, so you can be more immersed in your work.

Types of time tracking apps (and how to pick what’s right for you)

Time tracking apps fall into a variety of categories:

  • Extensions: As add-ons to other apps you use.
  • Project management apps: Organizing a project so it can be finished on time.
  • Accounting/invoicing apps: Track the financial aspects of your business.
  • Personal productivity apps: Help you complete actions that move you towards personal goals.

When it comes to picking an app that’s right for you, consider the following:

  • Your needs: What aspects of your business do you want to gain more control over?
  • How you deliver work: If you work hourly, a time tracking app or extension can automatically track your hours. There are also other apps that offer different payment options.
  • Any apps you already use: Many programs have integrations with other apps, which can give you access to more features.

14 time tracking apps for freelancers

1. Toggl Track

What it does: Toggl Track is a time tracking software that offers automatic time tracking and reporting through its website and mobile applications. The app has a time tracker with one-click timers and automatic tracking, detailed weekly report creation, and team dashboards.

Pros: Toggl Track is one of the easiest time entries tools to use, and features a clean and straightforward UI. The platform can be accessed on all major devices, which means employees can clock in remotely. It also has 40+ integrations with many other apps.

Cons: Toggl Track can suffer from syncing issues between devices, which can cause problems if you need accurate time tracking. It also has integration problems with certain apps.

Price: Free Plan (for up to 5 users)

Starter Plan: $9 USD per user a month

Premium $18 USD per user a month

Enterprise is also available if you talk to sales.

2. Harvest

What it does: Harvest is a web-based time tracking tool with built-in invoicing and analytic tools. The time tracking tool can run in the background, and the app can generate detailed reports on your team’s productivity.

Pros: Harvest has flexible time tracking options that can track your time as you work, or let you enter your hours all at once. It’s simple and easy to use, and one of the best values on the market since there is a free time tracking plan you can start with.

Cons: Harvest can suffer from de-sync issues across devices. There’s also a lack of advanced billing features such as sales tax integration and more options for billing increments. The mobile app can forget to send notifications, and phone customer support leaves a lot to be desired.

Price: Free Plan (one seat, two projects)

Pro Plan (unlimited features): $12 USD per user a month

3. HourStack

What it does: HourStack is a visual time management app that lets you manage time on a calendar. The calendar lets you create detailed segments with attachment capabilities and time tracking.

Pros: The calendar UI makes it easy to keep track of everything coming up in the week. It’s easy to use, and everything feels compact. It also has integrations with task managers such as Asana and Monday.com, making it even more flexible.

Cons: HourStack is better suited for week-to-week operations, and is missing some features found in other time tracking apps. If you want to roll tasks over to another week, it takes some extra data entry. The app also suffers from crashes and bugs every now and then.

Price: Personal (for one workspace member): $12 USD a month

Team (for teams of all sizes): $15 USD a month

4. EverHour

What it does: EverHour is an automatic time tracking software with built-in billing, budgeting, and task management tools. You can use it as a stand alone time and team management tool, or as an extension to other apps.

Pros: EverHour has all the right features for a time tracking app, as well as stable integration with several project management tools like Asana and Trello. It’s also one of the best values on the market.

Cons: Some of EverHour’s features can suffer from bugs. You can also only use the software in Chrome, making it one of the least flexible options on the market.

Price: Free 14 day trial for paid plan available

All-in-one plan: $8.50 USD per user a month

5. And.Co

What it does: And.Co is a business management software designed to help freelancers save time when running their business. Freelancers can use And.Co to create all kinds of documents like proposals, invoices, and contracts. There are also time tracking tools and detailed report generation.

Pros: The And.Co suite has all the features a freelancer needs for time tracking their business. The platform has prompt customer service, and you can send them a message directly on their website.

Cons: The free time tracking plan is limited, and some of its features take some time to set up. The software also doesn’t let you clone invoices requiring you to do more data entry.

Price: Free plan (1 client only)

Pro Plan (unlimited features): $18 USD a month

Offers a 30 day money back guarantee

6. ClickUp

What it does: ClickUp is an all-in-one productivity software with built-in docs, tasks, sheets, and management features. It also has screenshot and recording capabilities, as well as time and resource trackers.

Pros: ClickUp has an efficient dashboard view, with a lot of useful features. The free time tracking app is fully-featured, and you only have to pay for a plan if you need more storage. The desktop app runs smoothly, and has solid features for collaboration. If you like having an all-in-one platform, ClickUp has most of the tools you need as a freelancer. Their customer service is also quick and courteous.

Cons: The app’s UI takes a little more time to get used to, and there are probably some features you won’t end up using. There are also stronger and more popular docs, sheet, and email apps available than what ClickUp offers.

Price: Free plan (100MB storage + unlimited members)

Unlimited Plan (unlimited storage): $9 USD per user a month

7. HubStaff

What it does: Hubstaff is a time tracking and project management app for freelancers and teams. The platform offers three different products built for tracking in-house and remote teams.

Pros: Hubstaff works great for teams of all sizes, especially if you're a freelancer or consultant that works with large clients. Customer service is helpful, and the desktop app is available on all major OS platforms.

Cons: The app can run into glitches and desync errors, which is a problem if employees want to clock in and out. There is also a screenshot feature which isn’t the most intuitive feature for some jobs.

Price: (For Hubstaff Time)

Free 14 day trial available

Free plan available (one user only)

Basic: $7 USD per user a month

Premium: $10 USD per user a month

Enterprise: $20 USD per user a month

8. TopTracker

What it does: TopTracker is an entirely free freelance time tracking app that keeps track of your productivity. It has built-in invoicing, activity tracking, and privacy features. You can access their platform as a client, or a freelancer.

Pros: TopTracker is free, and can be used on Windows, iOS, and Linux easily by all kinds of freelancers. It stays out of the way as much as possible, but can be set up to give reminders, log time entries, and take screenshots for work purposes. It also has invoicing capabilities and permission levels for collaborators on its web app.

Cons: TopTracker has no mobile app, and no supported integrations with other programs. Wage tracking only supports hourly, and the app’s invoicing features are limited.

Price: Entirely free

9. Timenotes

What it does: Timenotes is a freelance time tracking app that lets you build timesheets for your team. It has fully featured time tracking and reporting for both team and project management.

Pros: The design is minimal, and easy to use, and there are a decent amount of customizable options. TimeNotes has integration with other popular apps like Trello and Basecamp. The app also has all the major features you need to manage your team.

Cons: There isn’t enough feedback and reviews from users of the mobile app. Reviews have said updates for the mobile app have introduced bugs and glitches. Also, the unlimited plan is pricey.

Price: Small Team: $6.99 USD a month

Unlimited: $69 USD a month (You can get two months free if you pay annually)

10. RescueTime

What it does: RescueTime is a time tracking app that automatically tracks your time, rates your productivity, and blocks distractions. You can run it in the background of your computer and mobile device.

Pros: It’s easy to use, and provides helpful breakdowns of your habits and productivity. It has good customizability, and requires very little data entry to set up.

Cons: The mobile app can be difficult to run in some instances, and could benefit from a redesign. The desktop app is also more reliable than mobile, but can still suffer from bugs.

Price: Free Plan and 14 day trial available

Paid: $12 USD a month

11. Timecamp

What it does: Timecamp is a web-based time tracking app that can track the activities of your team. As soon as your team clocks in, the app tracks their performance for profitability and productivity. You also get built-in invoicing and integrations with your favourite apps.

Pros: Timecamp has fully featured team tracking, including performance breakdowns and attendance reporting. With performance breakdowns, you’re able to see how much time your team spent on websites and applications. The app also has over a 100 integrations with other apps.

Cons: The app can suffer from desync issues which can display inaccurate data. Cross platform performance is also inconsistent, and the mobile app can suffer from glitches.

Price: Free plan available

Basic: $7 USD per user a month

Pro: $10 USD per user a month

Enterprise is also available if you talk to sales

12. Todo.vu

What it does: Todo.vu is a productivity suite with task management, time tracking, and billing tools for freelancers. The app lets you store customer and billing information, highlight tasks, and sync calendars from other apps.

Pros: Todo.vu has a clean and intuitive interface that’s easy to use. It has the right amount of time tracking features including the ability to record time directly on tasks and time budget creation.

Cons: Although the interface is clean, it is quite generic compared to other time tracking apps. It’s also only accessible through browsers, and it occasionally suffers from bugs.

Price: Free plan available

Business Time: $9 USD per user a month

13. Timeular

What it does: Timeular features a physical tracking device called a tracker which synchronizes with a set of tools that helps you track, understand, and improve your time management. The tools that come with the device include a team tracking app that can stand alone as a time tracker and schedule builder.

Pros: Timeular is one of the most creative time tracking packages on the market. The physical time tracking device adds a fun twist on time management, and the app tools work well with or without the device. Timeular also has integrations with other time tracking apps, and is available on all major OS platforms including iOS and Windows.

Cons: The physical device can suffer from inconsistency issues, and can be easily damaged. The app features are average, and most of Timeular’s shine comes from its tracker device.

Price: Basic: $89 USD a year

Tracker Pro: $129 USD a year

Lifetime: $249 USD

14. CORE

What it does: CORE by BQE is an expense and time tracking software where you can manage your projects for productivity and profitability. You can track your business’ billing, accounting, and team schedules all on CORE.

Pros: CORE gives you a lot of control over your projects with real time project tracking and advanced project accounting. The time tracking software has good integrations with Google Drive and a solid mobile app. You could also get quick and great customer support on their website.

Cons: The app is unable to record time when offline and doesn’t archive older billing records. Finding pricing for their products can also be confusing because you need to contact them for a quote.

Price: Billing and invoicing tools: $19.95 USD per user a month

Accounting: $22.95 USD per user a month

Time tracking pitfalls to be aware of

Although time tracking apps for freelancers have their uses, there are some pitfalls to be aware of:

Not using the apps properly: Time tracking apps have so many features and customizability, that it’s easy to lose track of what you’re able to do with them. This might lead you to only use a few features. If you’re not using the apps to their full potential, you might not be getting full value on what you’re paying for.

Being too focused on seconds, not minutes: If you focus too much on the little things (like seconds), you’ll run out of time to focus on the bigger things (minutes). In the case of tracking time with apps, there’s a lot of small things like data entry, or analytics that you could get too caught up in. You shouldn’t overlook these things, but don’t spend too much time with them either.

Not thinking about client outcomes when you work: Don’t track time for the sake of tracking time. You should be using these apps in context with client outcomes. For instance, if you’re designing a graphic for a client, track time for each task of the project. This will help give you a reference point for estimates, and if you can deliver the work in time for your client.

Time tracking doesn’t cure productivity: Freelance time tracking apps can make your job easier, but they’re not going to magically fix all of your productivity issues. If you track time with an app, look deeper into the results. Did it notice you were less productive at a certain point in the day? Figure out what caused this. It’s on you to figure out what you need to change to be more productive. Time tracking apps are helpful when they raise these signs to you.

Not getting into a flow: Sometimes a time tracking app isn’t the best fit for certain teams. If one of your team members knows they’re getting their performance tracked, it might not be the best for their productivity. The feeling of being micromanaged can create unwanted stress for your team, and disrupt their flow.

Thinking only about billing by time: Some time tracking apps are only able to bill by time, and although it’s helpful if you pay hourly, it won’t do you any favours for freelancers who prefer other methods of pay. On top of that, it’s easy to get fixated with the clock, especially when you’re tracking your money by the hour. This is distracting and unproductive.

Not using time tracking to become more efficient: The value in tracking time is using its data to help you be more efficient. You should use your apps to see how long it takes you to complete each step in a process, and if you can improve your efficiency. If you’re not using time tracking to accomplish something, you’re not gaining much value from your apps.

The power of time tracking

As a freelancer, time is a precious commodity. It can also be used as a data input that can optimize your experience as an entrepreneur. You should think of it as a finite resource that should be spent in the best possible way. Tracking time can be a helpful resource for optimizing your efficiency. There are potential pitfalls to be aware of, but the results can be beneficial to your business.

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