Maybe you started your business as an hourly freelancer and traded hours for dollars. As you moved up in your business, you thought those days were behind you once you moved into creating packages, courses, and products. However, you might be surprised to learn that tracking your time and being aware of where your hours are going can be essential in making sure you’re spending your time on the most important and revenue-generating activities. I know from personal experience, it’s easy to get caught up scrolling through social media when I’m supposed to be doing competitor research? Read on for ways you can increase productivity with these 5 recommended time tracking tools.
How Tracking Your Time Increases Productivity
You might think you are either born organized and productive or you’re not. That’s not exactly true. While we all have an innate nature one way or the other, we can to little things to improve our tendencies and help us reach our goals.
When we start tracking our time, we become aware of what we are doing. Think about anything we track: money for budgets, food for health, and so on. It helps us to bring awareness to things we might be doing without awareness. So to use the money example, if you feel like you are selling your services like a boss every month but can’t seem to make a profit and then start tracking your finances only to realize you are buying every $37 SLO that crosses your Facebook page or maybe you have a bunch of slow leaks in your account because you belong to a bunch of $9 memberships you aren’t aware of. Time tracking will allow you to do the same thing for the hours and minutes of your day.
Make Intelligent Decisions
If you are new to tracking your time, you might want to start by just tracking a couple days for 24 hours to see what you are actually doing. You might find you have time waiting in the student pick up line or time that you are idle while dinner is cooking that you could be checking in on social media answering DM’s or clearing out your inbox. Maybe you want to listen to a business podcast and do some professional learning during these minutes. This could be a better use of your time than watching TikTok videos.
Know How Long a Task Takes
As you track your time, especially business tasks, you’ll get a sense of how long each takes you. How long does it take to integrate these systems? How long does it take to write a blog post? How long does it take to edit a video or a podcast? What’s the average time to onboard a team member?
Even though you aren’t charging hourly for your services, you’ll have a healthy awareness of whether or not your packages are priced too low for the amount of work you are doing and the time you are investing.
Plan Your Calendar
You’ll also be able to use this information to plan your day. If you know installing a new software for a client, migrating their old data to the new platform, and testing it with their current applications will average you a certain number of hours, you’ll know how many other tasks (personal or business) you can plan that day.
5 Recommended Time Tracking Tools
RescueTime is a great tool and Chrome extension that runs in the background. It collects all of the data and time you spend on different websites or in various tools. If you are someone who gets to the end of your workday and wonders where all of your time went, I strongly encourage you to download RescueTime and let it run for a few weeks.
Then, dive into the report to see what you spent your time on. Knowing this will help you manage your time better, improve your focus, and increase productivity. Best of all, the free version is really great!
One of the most popular recommended time tracking tools for freelancers and service providers is definitely Toggl. You can track your time spent on different projects or different clients’ work. Curious to see how much time you are spending on social media per day? Track it in Toggl.
Toggl has been my go-to time tracking app for my team for years. I am able to designate tasks by client and team member as well as by project, so it’s really helpful when running reports. I am able to provide clients with a breakdown of exactly where hours as being spent. When I was freelancing as a virtual assistant in my early days, I was able to let a client know if we were close to a certain number of hours and if most of those hours were going to a particular task, maybe we needed to increase her allowance for that area, or maybe I could see that was something I was doing a lot of and decide if I wanted to niche down and specialize.
Similarly, from a management point of view, Toggl can let you estimate how much time is allocated to a particular task. Since I’ve been in business so long and have done many of the tasks I am now assigning to team members, I might have a pretty good idea how long it takes to schedule Pinterest for the month or to create graphics for social media. If the virtual assistant I am working with is either taking too long or too little time in those estimates, maybe I need to look at their process and work with them to find out why.
Harvest is another option for tracking your time, and it’s pretty similar to Toggl. One difference is that it comes with invoicing capabilities, too. While this has a lot of benefits for someone just starting out in terms of being able to track hours and invoice, it does lack the ability to produce contracts (unless you are doing that through another software).
Harvest also produces reports and has different permissions based on whether you are an admin or team member.
Instead of paying for Harvest and something like HelloSign for contracts, I’d probably opt for an all-in-one CRM like HoneyBook, but it’s another great option for tracking your time online.
Clockify is another excellent time tracking option that is pretty similar to Toggl. It also has a free plan available for single users, but a great feature is the Dashboard function for seeing your team’s hourly tracking. This is an excellent option for anyone who has employees that are virtual or remote-based.
Clockify integrates with several apps and is useful in managing teams around various time zones to see how projects are progressing along with the time spent on the different tasks.
DeskTime is also an automatic time tracking software for teams and freelancers. They have a free 14-day trial to test out the tool. One of the best things about DeskTime is the automated tracking – no remembering to click buttons or change projects on the fly. I know this has happened to me where I have forgotten to stop the timer on a tool and I get a message in my inbox a day later that my timer is still running some 86 hours later! Oops!
Again, depending on your business’s goals, this also does provide URL and app tracking so managers could be informed about productivity and work habits which may or may be what you want.
Need Support Increasing Productivity?
Implementing one of these recommended time tracking tools and becoming more aware of where you are spending your hours is one way to be more productive, but it may also involve improving your systems, hiring the right people, and training them correctly. You might be ready for an Online Business Manager who can take this over for you and help you step back into your CEO role! Click here to see my services or here to book a discovery call to see if we’d be a good fit to work together.