Ask DN: How do you track your time?

over 5 years ago from , Design @ Nested.com

I always struggle with this, either I won't keep on top of my university work because client work gets in the way or I decide to go out (again). Or maybe I lose track of how long I have spent on that client I am charging per hour, I always struggle. I've tried Timely and I'm now trying Dayswork but neither seem to really work for me.

So what do you guys use?


  • William GuerraWilliam Guerra, over 5 years ago

    "Hmm, that was about 3 hours, right? Yeah. Lets go with 3"

    10 points
  • Erik DjupvikErik Djupvik, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    We have used Toggl for quite some time now. Personally I find their native apps a bit of a hassle to use, so I mainly use their web app.

    They have some nifty features (like notifying you by email if you forgot to turn your timer off, and the ability to differentiate between billable and non-billable hours), and a useful overview with advanced filtering options.

    3 points
  • Courtney ⭐️Courtney ⭐️, over 5 years ago

    Use Hours. It's an absolute breeze and the reporting (aka data you can export from it) is very rich and flexible.

    3 points
    • Taron GhazaryanTaron Ghazaryan, over 5 years ago

      I use hours as well but I wouldn't say it's a breeze. The app has a very steep learning curve. Definitely doesn't feel intuitive at all (why is exporting under settings?!). A lot of other design decisions boggle my mind. I haven't used anything better on iOS so i'm going to stick with this for now. There is definitely room for improvement in hours.

      0 points
      • Jeremy OlsonJeremy Olson, over 5 years ago

        Hey Taron,

        I'm the founder of Tapity, the company behind Hours. Would love to chat with you sometime about the things in Hours that you found frustrating. We think we have a pretty good starting point but we realize we have a long way to go so we would love to talk to you about it. We of course use it ourselves and have found it really helpful but we have also run into issues with it that we need to work on.

        Mind sending me and email so we can set something up?

        Jeremy at tapity.com

        0 points
        • Taron GhazaryanTaron Ghazaryan, over 5 years ago


          Thanks for following up, I'll email you some of my thoughts tonight. I wish I wrote down the things that confused me at first since I've already learned my way around the app. I'll do my best to remember them.

          0 points
    • Jeremy OlsonJeremy Olson, over 5 years ago

      Thanks for the recommendation Courtney! Really appreciate it. Would love to talk to you and others at Savvy Apps about beta testing and giving feedback on our web / team version. I'll send Ken a note about it.

      0 points
  • Christoph OChristoph O, over 5 years ago

    Notes (the OS X system app). Every week has it's own note, broken down by day. I write down all my tasks, how much time I spent on them and any important details. At the end of the day, I review and move stuff to the next day as needed. Requires some discipline, but there's no UI to get in the way and it syncs across all my devices.

    Since I work with various agencies, I need to use whatever systems they use. So I keep my own tools minimal.

    3 points
  • Andreas DruschelAndreas Druschel, over 5 years ago

    ding.io (clean, simple, uncluttered)

    2 points
  • Jeff Dingwell, over 5 years ago

    If you're using Adobe apps - there's nothing simpler or better (that I've found) than Creativeworx's "TimeTracker". Basically you set up a project on day one - point a project at a folder and anytime you are working on files from that project, your time is being tracked (the file need to be open and you have to be doing something in it, so leaving a file open for hours won't cause hours to be tracked).

    I've always loathed time sheets so this has been a saviour to me. Even if you are working on a project that you haven't assigned to the application, you can open a view that shows you the files that you were working on at the time - pretty useful when you're going back several weeks ago and wondering - what did I do that Monday?

    Check it out: http://www.creativeworx.com There's a free and a paid version. Curiously, the Adobe stuff is the free version, the paid version integrates Microsoft apps. These are the apps that it tracks:

    Adobe Creative Suite (CS5+): Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign/InCopy and Flash Professional Microsoft Office (2010+): Word, Powerpoint and Excel Microsoft Exchange: Calendar

    1 point
  • James LaCroixJames LaCroix, over 5 years ago

    A large majority of our work is priced by project, but we also do a fair amount of hourly or weekly work. For both types of projects, we use Harvest for tracking all of our time. For both client and most internal projects, we use the chrome extension to track time directly from tasks in Trello. This way, we can better assess the time required for types of tasks.

    As of late, I've found it helpful to track non-billable time as well. For example, I've begun tracking time spent meeting with potential clients and writing for our site.

    This helps to gain a better perspective on how my day, week or month was utilized. Quite often this will point out areas of inefficiency. Or, in the example of meeting or calls with potential clients, it provides a better representation of the time investment require to onboard new clients. This in turn helps us to better price projects going forward.

    1 point
    • Taylor Van OrdenTaylor Van Orden, over 5 years ago


      So glad to know I'm not the only weirdo who uses Harvest to track ALL my time - especially unbillable or new client hours. It's so interesting to see what time went where week to week.

      I have my personal time as a separate client with projects and sometimes I create an invoice for my drunk / hungover time just to feel shitty about myself and get my ass in gear.

      1 point
  • Varun VachharVarun Vachhar, over 5 years ago


    1 point
  • Johannes WeberJohannes Weber, over 5 years ago

    logmytime.de or toggl.com. And fastbill.com for everything invoice-related.

    1 point
  • Philip LesterPhilip Lester, over 5 years ago

    If I'm tracking time for client work, I use http://chronomateapp.com/ but it's only compatible w/Freshbooks.

    For all other computer time tracking, I use the free version of RescueTime https://www.rescuetime.com/ It's always running in the background, keeping track of what I'm doing each day.

    1 point
  • Bogdan ShumeiBogdan Shumei, over 5 years ago

    I used to work for a company which recorded my activity usinf yaware time tracking but it is paid. I think time doctor is great and seems free. You can set the title for each activity youare doing and then have the report how much time was spent on every project

    0 points
  • Mariusz CieslaMariusz Ciesla, over 5 years ago

    I use Timely.

    0 points
  • Adrian HowardAdrian Howard, over 5 years ago

    The times when I need to track my time I use Harvest.

    Generally though — I don't. Track my time that is.

    Work wise we mostly don't charge on an hourly basis — so it's just waste from that perspective.

    When it comes to organisation/discipline I find it much, much more effective to block out chunks of the day in my calendar for when the work happens. I know I'll be doing 17.5 hours of "work" because that's what the calendar says I'll be doing and I stick to that.

    If I find that I'm not actually working in those times I might start tracking interruptions — so I can see what they are and stop them happening — but not time.

    0 points
  • Philip KleudgenPhilip Kleudgen, over 5 years ago

    Good old Kitchen Timer works best :-) 30mins of strict focussed work!

    0 points
  • Tim HelbergTim Helberg, over 5 years ago

    I have used Snail for quite some time now. It's dead simple and only does one thing. Time Tracking.

    0 points
  • Victor WareVictor Ware, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    I use Toggl. Toggl is great because it will bug you if you don't enter time for a while. I think the biggest hurdle for time keeping is to remember doing it. You want to choose a system that is going to be super easy to enter time and remember to do.

    The most effective time keeping system I've ever had was at my first ever design job. I was an intern for one of my professors. At his studio we logged time in 15 min intervals . I just kept a notepad next to me and jotted down the start time and when I switch to a new task I jotted down the end time. Super simple.

    0 points
  • Gokhun GuneyhanGokhun Guneyhan, over 5 years ago

    I use Timing to track and Ding to log.

    Ding is simple and easy to analyse past logs. And Timing is one of the most useful apps I've. When you set it to start at login, it records every second of your session, so when you forget to start your timer you can simply reach how much time you spent on photoshop or even on single psd.


    0 points
  • Christopher Mansfield, over 5 years ago

    I simply log the time I start and stop on a project in a old school notebook. Then once a week I type my hours into into our offices time registration service which is timelog. Very simple.

    0 points
  • Taylor Van OrdenTaylor Van Orden, over 5 years ago

    Fulltime freelancer, always working from home and occasionally random offices.

    I use harvest (https://www.getharvest.com/)

    I don't use all the features, I mainly use:

    The app for mac osx: quick timer start, fill in client, project, task, any notes and done. It automatically notices if you walk away from your computer and when you come back gives you a "you've been inactive for 43 minutes - remove that time or keep going?" You can also manually insert or change amount of time by clicking the item and typing it in. You can go back and edit each day, or see how productive you were day to day, in the app.

    On the website:

    Invoicing by unbilled hours is super simple and awesome. It's cut my creating invoices time down so much. You click create invoice, unbilled hours, and whether you want it by task or person or project whatever. It pops out a invoice where you can edit, add, remove, change rate, etc. Update your rate, and it auto does the math for you. Add a discount, etc. It'll pull any information you have about that client saved in harvest (like rate, address, etc) but you can also change it on the invoice.

    The next time you review your timesheet, the hours that have been paid are grayed out. This is amazing if you (like me) have some longtime clients that you only occasionally bill because you'll never forget any hours and you can see how much money you have coming.

    Personally, I throw the numbers from the invoice into my branded invoice but I use harvest to keep the invoices, mark as paid, notes, etc. When I do my taxes at the end of the year, I can easily see that "Remote Deposit Check $839.39" in my bank account was for client XYZ in harvest. This is super helpful because I fail at doing that as I go.

    The timesheet view is a very sweet way to see your productivity as well. You get total hours per project and total hours, total. I actually use harvest to track my down time, personal time, drunk time, sleep time, etc so I can see them week to week.

    It's free for like one project and theres a 1 month free trial - so check it out and see if it works for you. It's exponentially worth it for me since it saves me at least 2-5 hours a week in tracking, invoicing, etc and who knows how many hours in guestimating hours while invoicing. Then it's $12/month.

    0 points
    • Glenn McCombGlenn McComb, over 5 years ago


      I'm a full-time freelancer and I use Harvest in much the same way. The invoicing is a massive time saver. I create lots of subtasks which I re-use on most projects (i.e. sketching, wireframing, high-res mockups, front-end dev) and Harvest will automatically itemise these on the invoice. On top of that, it's very helpful for quoting because I have an ever increasing back catalogue of timings. At $12 / month this is definitely a worthwhile SaaS for me.

      1 point
  • Benjamin Mikiten, over 5 years ago

    Todoist + IFTTT + Google Calendar.

    Whenever I complete a job in Todoist, IFTTT makes a google calendar event for me, then I can infer how long whatever I did took me.

    All I really need to be doing is making sure that everything I work on in the week gets billed within maybe a half hour.

    For the past few years I've been relying on memory and my flagged/sent email folders, but when that failed, a lot of things didn't get recorded.

    As a developer, I hop around a lot, usually because people are coming to my desk and asking me to fix THEIR ISSUE RIGHT NOW, whereas new jobs are submitted to me via email and I can keep a good record of them. These verbal jobs tend to fall to the wayside, especially when I'm slammed on another project and I have 2% bandwidth for this new thing.

    Incentive to put things into a list -> instant time tracking.

    0 points
  • Jeff SmithJeff Smith, over 5 years ago

    Hours Keeper iOS app and upload to Google Spreadsheet shared with the client. Keeps the client up to date and on the same page.

    0 points
  • Account deleted over 5 years ago

    Like Paul, I'm old-school...pen and paper. I have a dedicated Field Notes book and simply write down the day and then start/end times as I work... jotting notes on the side to remind me what I was doing.

    It's the only thing that has stuck for me throughout all the years. If it's a digital program I'll always forget to start the clock or stop it. The notebook laying out in front of me never gets ignored.

    0 points
  • Paul LPaul L, over 5 years ago

    When I'm working from home, I'll use traditional Pen / Paper. I manage my time pretty well, so I'll write down the time / activity everytime I start something new. And I'll log the time again after I've finished.

    At the office we use Harvest. It's pretty handy, but there are better OSX alternatives that other users have posted here.

    0 points
  • Denis HDenis H, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    Even though I'm gonna recommend you a product I'm working on and I'd like to make that clear, I think it could help you. As for what I understood, you wanna track your time, check some reports and bill your clients. Just check it out if it fits you and if not, I would definitely love to hear your feedback too :)

    It's called primaERP TIME TRACKING, you can check it out at www.primaerp.com

    We have also mobile clients, which are great if you're on the move a lot. I personally use it the most.

    Have a nice day and happy time tracking! :)

    0 points
  • Alex PopescuAlex Popescu, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    As I was saying here I've been using Paymo for quite a while. I've first been attracted by simplicity – it got more features ever since but the time tracker remained pretty basic/uncluttered – and I love the reporting feature.

    I've also tried Rescue Time but it takes some setting up, and sometimes I'm on the same website but for different reasons (work or entertainment).

    Slightly off-topic, I found out using a time-tracker also helps a bit with fighting procrastination – whenever the time ticks I am a bit less prone of indulging in non-related activities.

    0 points
  • Renato de LeãoRenato de Leão, over 5 years ago

    When i started freelancing i was using OnTheJob. Despite of the prehistoric design, it does the job really well, and take care of the invoice process in a blink of an eye.

    At my current work, for some clients, we use toggl which has a way better design experience, although it has some flaws in the UX field (those obvious tasks like assigning projects, or create workspaces are not out of the box tasks for new users and they should).

    0 points