Your success as a freelancer depends on how well you manage your time. With the ding of your email and incoming phone calls from clients competing for your time and attention, it’s easier said than done to avoid being distracted. But don’t let your work plans get derailed. Make sure you know how much time you’re spending on each project and client, and make sure your total time invested stays within scope.
At Indypendently, we’re big fans of time-tracking apps to help us stay on track. We rounded up four of our favorite time trackers, both free and paid. You may decide the extra features of a paid subscription are well worth the cost.
Toggl is really easy to use, and allows you to track time as you go or add time manually later. Toggle also allows you to add an unlimited number of projects and clients, and you can color code the projects to make them easily distinguishable. One cool feature: The time tracker detects when you’re not active on your keyboard.
Toogl can be used across devices, if you jump between your laptop and smartphone. It’s a free tool, although there are also paid versions for individuals and teams that start at $9 a month. With the $9 plan, if you forget to track your time, you’ll receive a reminder. This plan also provides project management tools, such as project time estimates and a project dashboard.
Harvest is another user-friendly time tracking tool. It’s flexible, allowing you to track your time as you work, or add it in later. You can also track time by client and project, and add notes for each entry to help you remember the specific tasks you were working on. Like Toggl, it can also be used across devices.
Another cool feature of Harvest is the ability to track expenses, like transportation. By taking a photo of your receipt with your phone, you can easily keep up with all billable expenses.
It also has a project management feature. After inputting data, you can create a digital report to chart your progress toward specific goals, compare costs against unbilled amounts, see how many hours you’ve been spent on a project, and view the percent and dollar amounts of a project’s remaining budget.
If you only need to track two projects, Harvest is free. However, for one person with more than two projects, this time tracking tool is $12 a month.
You may know FreshBooks as one of the most popular accounting programs for freelancers and small businesses. Most people use it to create invoices and bill clients — and also see if the client has even looked at the invoice (just us?).
But you might not know it’s also a great tool for tracking your time. You can even automatically bill clients for tracked time. In addition, your clients can pay you using the FreshBooks payment system, and you can add payment reminders and automatic late fees to outstanding invoices.
We included FreshBooks in this list because it brings all of your functions together. Freshbooks Lite is $15 a month to track time and expenses and accept online credit card payments. For additional functions like scheduling recurring invoices, charging late fees for overdue invoices and sending proposals, you’ll need the Freshbooks Plus plan for $25 a month.
Dubsado is a client management system to help you keep all of your invoices, contracts and accounting in one place. Bringing everything together appeals to Riah Tarango, a designer and photographer at Tarango Visual Studio in Austin, Texas. She says Dubsado is her favorite time-tracking tool.
“Honestly, the time tracking feature isn’t anything different than other sites, but its integration within the entire client management software is really helpful,” Tarango says. And that makes sense, because the ability to perform all of your activities without toggling back and forth between programs can allow you to work more efficiently. Dubsado has a $25 monthly plan or a $250 annual plan.
There are a ton of time tracking tools on the market. We’ve included a mix of free and low-cost options that check off the most important boxes. Consider your core needs and choose the tool that will help you track the great work you're already doing.