As a freelancer, my entire revenue source is dependent mostly upon time tracking for clients. This is rather new to me as I’ve only been at the freelance thing for a few years now. At first, it was a bit of a chore, but now it’s just second nature. What makes it easier now is the tools I use to conduct that activity.
I interface mainly with two time tracking systems, Freshbooks and Basecamp. Freshbooks is really top notch for Accounting/CRM/Billing, etc… This is one of the best systems out there, and is affordable. Basecamp is really more of a project management system, but has a time tracking component that some companies use. As of March 2012, Basecamp will be phasing that feature out of the ‘Next’ version they are rolling out.
For both systems, I started using the online time tracking tools they had. That was pretty onerous, as you could only do one task at a time. Rather clunky IMO. Luckily, I’ve discovered some nifty desktop apps that really make time tracking a snap. On both systems I can start timers and pause them, and have multiple timers at any point so that I can switch between clients on the fly and track all that time without having to make an educated guess on how much time I spent.
The Freshbooks timer is called ChronoMate. It’s a lovely MAC OSX app that integrates seamlessly with Freshbooks, and let’s you track your time easily. It let’s you create timers, but also clients, projects, tasks and expenses. It’s a dynamite app.
The Basecamp timer I use is TrackRecord. Track record is just as snazzy as Chronomate, but can only be used for time tracking. No client/project interactions on this one. It lets you do multiple timers at once (though only one tracking at a time) as well.
Both apps are essential in my day-to-day client management, and have taken the burden out of time tracking for me completely 🙂