As a business owner who charges clients on an hourly basis, it’s important to be able to easily track the time that you work on each client’s projects. Even if you charge a project rate, it can be very helpful to track the time spent on projects to ensure that your pricing is correct. There is no real way to tell if your assumptions are accurate unless you track your time.
Thankfully, today it’s simple to track time on various projects. There is tons of time-tracking software available that makes tracking time for each project and client a cinch. Time tracking improves decision making, helps determine project needs, and helps you make more accurate assumptions about estimates. In other words, when you use time tracking you’re not just pulling numbers out of the air. Numbers that could frankly, be very wrong, costing you enormous amounts of money and frustration.
Many project management software solutions include time-tracking features. Basecamp.com, and FreshBooks.com both offer time tracking that is simple to use. You don’t even have to open and close anything to add time to any project on the fly. It’s just a matter of having each project and client set up properly within the system, then opening the time-tracking feature on your desktop. When you start working on any project, simply click time tracking, then when you’re done click it again and assign it to a project or client. FreshBooks adds time automatically to invoices, so no need to go back in and add things after the fact.
Each contractor tracks time differently; some track time to the second, others bill in 15-minute increments. It’s totally up to you and most of the software available for time tracking allows you to choose how you wish to do that. The reason you might choose to track in 15-minute increments is that even if a project only takes you six minutes, there is the time reading your client’s request, opening the project management software, and doing the work. However, if you feel more comfortable only charging for actual work directly on a project, to the second billing is also popular.
Time tracking can keep you more focused, especially if you work alone in a home office. It’s very tempting to spend time on Facebook or Twitter instead of working. But, if you have made it a habit to track your time doing work, you’ll be more cognizant of the time you’re wasting. Tracking time with a time management app will make you aware of what you are spending your time on making you that much more productive.
Aside from FreshBooks and Basecamp, there are a couple other time-tracking apps worth trying out.
* Harvest – This affordable solution offers the ability to track time on many different projects at once with multiple contractors working on the same project. Contractors can track time from their PC or mobile device quickly and easily. You can even set up budgets for each client so that you can see at a glance if you’re approaching their budget or not.
* Toggl – You can use basic time-tracking features free, and then if you want the full features you simply pay five bucks per user per month. It’s really simple to just type what you’re working on, then click Start to time yourself and Stop when you’re done. You can even track the time you’re wasting on non-work tasks if you want to get a real glance of how you spend your day. This software works on your PC and mobile device. This software works great for teams or individuals. They even have a feature that you can back up in time if you forgot to turn on the timer.
If you already use a project manager, check your current service to find out if it has a time tracker on it and start using it. You’ll be amazed at how much time you’ll save, and how much more money you’ll make by tracking the true time you spend on each project.