Time Tracking Tools Explained

Image: Unsplash

By Sam, 10 months ago (3 min read)

Let’s face it: like it or not, we’re pretty much ruled by Father Time. Whether it’s the amount of time available to binge Netflix shows on an evening, how long it takes for our latest Insta posts to rack up ‘sufficient’ likes or jumping to attention when our smartwatches tell us it’s time to move, we’re all slaves to the rotation of the Earth.

And while we’re all too happy to throw around overused expressions like “there are not enough hours in the day”, in business, unless you take time seriously, you’ll find yourself watching it run out. This is especially true if you juggle multiple responsibilities, accounts and clients. So, how do you manage different budgets and priorities when there are just 7.5 hours in the working day? The answer = time tracking tools.

The tools

There are a handful of well-known time tracking applications – and a couple of our favourites are Toggl and Harvest. These platforms are similar in what they offer, and both include a desktop app in their suite of solutions so you can see your timer running at a glance and stay on top of the time you’re spending on a particular task.

Some of Toggl’s best features include reminders when the tool suspects you’ve forgotten to track time and also recognises idle time, so you can change your entry later if you’ve forgotten to stop tracking. Toggl also offers integrations with over 100 tools, making it even easier to manage your working day.

As well as the time tracking features you’d expect, Harvest also allows you to track expenses and invoices through the platform. This is perfect if you want to be able to keep accepted quotes and billable hours tracked in the same place. Like Toggl, Harvest also has plenty to offer in the way of apps and integrations.

The pros and cons

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

If you’ve ever worked in retail during the festive period or a bar on a busy Saturday night, you’ll know all too well the pain of clock-watching. If not, lucky you. This is an unenviable experience that involves the sufferer checking their watch every few minutes and realising it is, in fact, possible for time to stand still. Okay, I might be exaggerating slightly, but you get the idea – time drags.

On the flip side, for those who are used to balancing budgets, projects and responsibilities on a daily basis, you’ll know that time does anything but stand still. In fact, you only have to blink and the next quarter will be upon you! With the fast-paced nature of business, time tracking can really help you to take stock of what you’re doing and how long it’s taking – so that you can decide if you’re actually delivering value.

So, what are the cons, then? Firstly, you can become so obsessed with accurately tracking every minute of time that you actually spend longer on your entry than the task itself. This is clearly counterproductive and will mean you’re not actually giving your customers or clients genuine value for money. Secondly, it’s just not great for your state of mind. As mentioned above, time already rules so many areas of life, so don’t let it dominate every aspect of your working day as well.

Whether you need to know how long was spent on a particular project, keep tabs on internal meetings or measure team efficiency in the long term, time tracking tools are the key to getting organised and staying that way. Just don’t become obsessed with documenting every tiny aspect of your working day.

If you’re keen to work with a team of digital experts who have their time management nailed, give us a call on 0191 5111014.