Best time management solutions
Whether you're running your own business as a sole trader, freelancer, or company director, managing your time can be a challenge. There are always so many things to do and never enough time to do it all. Even when setting up priorities and goals, it's still easy to overrun on projects to the detriment of others.
While you can try to manage your time manually, luckily there are also apps and software you can use to help you do this, and do so more efficiently and effectively.
Most offer individual as well as team tracking, and provide features for tracking time not least for counting billable time, internet use, and time spent on an individual project. Some have goals built into them, or general analysis of time used through the day, to help you better identify time sinks and lazy periods when you can be more productive.
Where team features are available, this allows you to compare your own performance with others from your team, and use insights into how to not just better manage your own time, but how others in the team can learn from each other to do the same.
Here we'll highlight the best software available in this space. In picking our favorites, we considered features, cost, professional reviews, and user experiences.
- We've also highlighted the best productivity apps
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Automatic time tracking that integrates with oodles of apps
Timecamp has a number of simple to use functions related to time tracking aimed at maximizing team productivity. The feature set includes billable time tracking, sending invoices based on time spent, an attendance tracker, and team time tracking. It also can integrate with over 50 apps for ease of use, including Slack, Jira and Evernote.
There is also Automatic Time Tracking which can be used for employee internet usage monitoring, and to assign an entry to the correct project. The time management software function puts this all together to be able to track a team’s time spent on a project, and also their productivity.
There is a free tier for limited use as it only supports a single user. The next higher plan is the Basic tier, that has no limit on the number of users, supports billable time functions, and costs $5.25 (£4) per user per month with an annual subscription.
The work time tracker to turn every minute into billable time
For freelancers and companies alike, Tmetric dubs itself a ‘work time tracker,’ which via a clean interface provides “great control over time intervals and project budgets.” The key is a visual timeline that gives insight into the activities throughout the day, which you can turn into billable hours. Tmetric boasts over 40,000 users, and over nine million hours of time tracked.
The process can be automated as there are browser add-ons to directly and seamlessly capture every minute of data to feed back into Tmetric, which is then tracked, to totally capture each and every billable minute.
Furthermore, there is support for different currencies, and the ability to track costs per teams, to help maximize income while keeping projects within a predefined budget. Finally, tasks can be tracked by individual team members to follow their productivity, and compared to their peers.
There is a free tier that supports up to 5 users. The Professional tier is available for $5 (£4) monthly per user, which adds billable rates, invoicing and to-do lists. The top tier Business plan costs $7 (£6) per user per month, which adds Timesync with Jira and Redmine, and can provide cost rates for employees. Both paid plans have a 30-day free trial available, and there are discounts for an annual plan.
A tool to help achieve the perfect work-life balance
RescueTime has the laudable goal of eliminating distractions, and focusing on productivity. It is quite feature-rich, and can set goals, providing the user with feedback such as alerts when daily goals have been met.
There is a free plan called RescueTime Lite that can track time used in websites, set goals, and even provides a weekly email report. More serious time management aficionados can step up to the sole choice of a paid plan, known as RescueTime Premium.
For a cost from $6 (£4.50) per month, the paid plan builds on the free offering with additional features including tracking time away from the computer (such as phone calls), keeping a log of daily accomplishments, and the ability to block distracting websites. There is a free 14-day trial for the paid tier.
Get your business running like clockwork in no time
Toggl takes a simplistic approach to time management, with included tracking reminders, and idle detection to make sure the job gets done. It also has cross-platform support, so for example, time tracking can begin in the browser of a desktop PC, and then be stopped on a smartphone with time entries synced between devices; there are mobile apps and browser extensions to accomplish this.
Toggl also makes it simple to break down your hours worked, by either the project, by client or by the task, and can then analyze them to determine which is making the best return for the hours spent to facilitate maximizing profits. The Toggl app is simple, but unfortunately it does not support invoicing.
There is a 30-day free trial for the paid tiers, and a Basic level is available for up to 5 team members. For managing the time of larger groups, the Starter level has no limit to the number of users, and costs $9 (£7.50) per user per month when paid annually.
Software to make every minute of the day into billable time
Wonder no more “where the day has gone,” with the Chrometa software that can capture automatically the tasks that you and your team work on. It does this by capturing the URL of the website that you visit, the subject and addressee information from an email, and the file info when working on a local file - and stops the clock when you go away from the computer.
It also captures, via Android and iOS apps, phone calls and text messages to turn time on a mobile device into billable time as well. Seriously, Chrometa is a billing manager’s dream for their office.
There is the offer of a 30-day free trial, but no free plan. The paid subscriptions start with the Solo Standard Plan which costs $19 (£15) per month, and supports a single individual and up to six connected devices – it also provides an hour-long personal training session. There are team plans available as well.
Time management app that's run locally to keep data secure
Do you need time management software, but have privacy concerns about sending data cloud-wards? ManicTime is downloadable software that is run locally and keeps its data local, and does not connect to some remote server.
Just like some other cloud-based solutions, it can automatically keep track of time spent, whether on a local file, or through a website. ManicTime also integrates with task-based systems, like Github or Jira.
For an individual plan, there is a free tier which has basic functionality, or the Pro tier that costs $67 (£53) and includes a year of software upgrades.
More time management software options
There are a lot of software apps available for different aspects of accounts and productivty, and time management is no different. Here we'll feature a selection of additional platforms worth considering as well as those above:
Clockify is a simple time tracker and timesheet app for teams that has the distinction of also being free. While that usually means a trade-off in terms of features, Clockify manages to retain essential functionality. Aside from a time tracker and timesheets, it also provides the ability to set up and manage projects and teams, as well as a dashboard to provide an overview of projects as well as analytics based on use.
FocusBooster is another paid app that offers simple time tracking as well as a to-do list and productivity reports. However, it takes a more unique approach in encouraging work in small bursts with breaks inbetween so that you can balance work with life and play. There's a free tier available, but even paid pricing remains relatively cheap from $2.99 to $4.99 per month, depending on the number of features required.
Tick offers a more advanced time tracking solution for specifically working with teams, and offers mobile apps for use with Android and iOS as well as for desktop PCs. At its core is a time track which allows managers to then track budgets and profitability. Tick can also be integrated with other productivity software such as Basecamp.
HubStaff is another mangerial time tracking solution, offering a wide range of features such as timesheets, GPS tracking, team scheduling, productivity monitoring, and of course reporting for insights. You can import projects or start new ones, and begin time tracking from then. There's also a wide range of integrations available, from Asana to Zoho Projects.