Time Tracking Applications for Productivity

Types of time tracking programs and benefits of using them

Time Tracking Chart from 1DayLater
Time Tracking Chart using 1DayLater. screenshot by Melanie Pinola

Time tracking applications can help boost your productivity by showing you exactly where all your time was spent, perhaps identifying areas where you can be more efficient and save time. If you've ever thought to yourself, "where did the time go?", these programs may be for you.

For freelancers, entrepreneurs, and many remote workers, a good time tracking program is also essential to simplifying the often-dreadful requirement of keeping tabs on your time and preparing reports. In these cases, how accurately you track your time is directly related to your profitability, so it pays to use an application that will help you easily enter all of your billable time. Using a time tracking program may also be helpful for telecommuters, because you can use the time usage reports to support or build your case for working better remotely.

Here's an overview of the types of time tracking applications available and which may best suit you.

Desktop Time Tracking Applications

Time tracking software that you download and install on your computer has an advantage over other types of time trackers in that these programs may have greater cross-compatibility with other software installed on your computer. Some of them cam also automatically monitor what you're doing on the computer (e.g., programs used and websites visited), eliminating the need for you to input the data yourself -- a major obstacle for many people. You'll still need to check the reports output in this kind of automated option, but it is the simplest and most hassle-free option if all or most of your work is done on the computer or online (and you're not too scared to see how you really are spending your time!).

More: Free Desktop Time Tracking Applications

Web-Based Time Tracking Apps

There are a great number of Web 2.0 time tracking apps, some of them integrated with online invoicing/billing systems and many that are free to use for at least one user. Web-based time tracking services offer typical cloud computing benefits including having your information accessible from multiple types of devices, anywhere (as long as you have an Internet connection). They're also easier to use if you want to share time usage reports with others, such as clients or managers. Many Web time tracking services also have a mobile app or desktop widgets available, for added convenience.

Mobile Time Tracking Apps

Although many of the applications above offer mobile apps that sync with the online services, there are also standalone mobile apps for tracking your time on the go. In some cases these mobile apps are more advantageous because they also work offline (without a network connection), so you don't have to login to your time trackng account or rely on an Internet connection to record your time. Mobile time tracking apps are useful, obviously, for those who are in the field or meeting with customers frequently -- you can keep an accurate log of your work activities wherever you are.