The following is a guest post from Christina Holzhauser at Tips for Assistants. We met online through good old networking and hit it off. I’m excited to have her share some knowledge with us here today.
As a Virtual Assistant, you are a business owner with a multitude of tasks to manage. With all of the apps available, using a time tracking tool is one of the top ways to maximize your efficiency. It is also a great way to ensure you are being a more precise bookkeeper. If you are not measuring your time 100% accurately every single day, how can you be sure you are not losing out on funds over time? Here are some fantastic tools to make time tracking one less task that you have to worry about!
Adminja has a time tracking function that is integrated into its task management program. The neat thing about this particular time tracker, besides the fact that it is built into a task management program, is that it allows for several tasks to be timed simultaneously if you are multitasking. They have put together a wonderful short demo video here.
One side note to mention about Adminja is that it is a tool that was built just for virtual assistants and it is really a one stop shop. I am going to keep the main focus on its time tracking functions but I recommend checking out the multitude of other features this product has to offer, such as its retainer monitoring feature.
Chrometa uses a “passive timekeeping” technique to record your time. Basically, it tracks everything you do when it is running. From recording Word documents you are working on to emails sent to websites visited, all general details are captured in your timesheet. Here is a video demonstrating how the process works. Chrometa also offers integrations with QuickBooks Online, FreshBooks, and other invoicing programs.
FreshBooks is accounting software that has a time tracking feature. The software records the time you spend working and converts it into an invoice when you are ready. You also have the option to add manual hours if needed. The software has an upgraded version so you can remove the FreshBooks branding and add your own. There is even a feature in the software to send out reminders to clients to pay invoices so you do not have to send those manually.
Harvest is a popular time tracking solution. Use the timer or enter your time manually and assign that time to specific clients, projects and tasks and even enter details so you remember everything that you did during that time. Harvest can be run from your desktop, smartphone or Chrome extension and even integrates into so many popular apps, such as Basecamp and Asana. All of your hours can be automatically converted into invoices as well.
I wanted to provide a solution for those of you who want an app that was developed solely for the purpose of being used on a smartphone, and HoursTracker is it. There’s a nice video trailer here that gives a peek into what this app does.
The app works by allowing you to either clock in and out or to manually enter your hours. All of your entries are grouped by time periods and can be organized by using tags and filters. You can easily go back in time and edit entries as well. Your timesheets can be exported via email in text or CSV format.
One neat feature is that you can add an expected number of hours for a particular task. You will get an alert 15 minutes before that time comes to a close to help you end at your target time.
It isn’t easy finding free time tracking services, but this is one of them! If you have a team there’s a small fee to add additional users.
The program is easy to use and the aesthetics have a simple and clean look to them. You can track your hours using your browser or by downloading their app. The great thing about this program is that your timesheets are always ready to go as an invoice format. If you are serious about giving this tool a try, they have an overview here which is helpful for understanding exactly how the tool is used.
For those of you who are constantly battling online distractions, RescueTime is a great tool to learn to focus better. It is always running in the background of your computer and something you don’t have to remember to turn on. You can pull reports to see how much time was spent on specific apps and websites, block distracting websites for set periods of time as well as other features in order to help you to learn how to be more productive.
For those of you who need a simple timer for those one-off situations (ex: maybe you have a call in 7 minutes that you don’t want to accidentally join late, or you only want to spend exactly 20 minutes on a certain task), Timer Tab is an easy solution. This website allows you to set a countdown timer, alarm clock or stopwatch. It has a clean interface and can be added as a Chrome extension if you end up using it often.
Toggl is built for speed and ease of use. It has a simple interface that is quick to become comfortable with. This is another rare free tool (there is an upgraded version for a fee, though). It’s basically a punch system, where you clock in and out. You can access it from your desktop, smartphone or Chrome Extension. If you ever forget to use the timer you do have the option to add past time records. All of the data can be used to organize timesheets by adding details such as project names, nonbillable hours, color coding and more. It also has a multitude of reports, including the ability to analyze productivity. Finally, it supports a number of export options including automatic uploads into other programs such as FreshBooks to make invoicing easy.
TopTracker is 100% free (there isn’t even an optional upgraded version to upgrade to), which is quite a find in the world of time tracking apps! This is an unobtrusive system that can be used from any device and even has hotkeys to quickly start and stop your time. It records all of your activity details regardless of the device you are using. However, it is lacking in features that several of the other tools listed have, one of the most notable being invoice creation.
Add these top tools to your toolbox and let the stress and uncertainty of time tracking become a thing of the past!
Christina Holzhauser is the founder of Tips for Assistants, which is an online resource designed to give advice and resources to assistants and administrative professionals to help them to perform at the highest level. She has more than a decade of experience in a wide array of assistant and administrative roles. You can follow Tips for Assistants on the following platforms: