I’m often asked digital world questions by clients, friends or colleagues, and sometimes I think they’re worth sharing with the wider world. This is another in the series of Digital Q&A. If you have a question, send it in!

Q. You mentioned a while back that you use an online tracking system to record your hours – is it free? I’m guessing you’ll have found a good one, can you recommend it?

Can it simply be log on/log off for start and end of day, for people doing more manual stuff in the warehouse?

Good question – there are a few different options for time tracking tools, let’s have a look.

Time tracking tools for online and offline useCurrently I use Freeagent.com to do all my accounts and invoices, and they have an online time tracker. The time tracking is their weakest feature though – it works, but there are no apps to help you out, certainly for windows anyway. The basic form is that you just track it yourself and input a timesheet, but recently they released a mobile website to help with automatic tracking. This means you can open up your phone, log into the website, and then use a timer to track and log your work. It’s a bit of a pain that it requires the log-in each time, and can log you out on longer jobs, but it does work.

I used to use Harvestapp.com – it’s got a much better time tracker app, coming with a desktop widget for Windows. The accounting options are more limited that Freeagent though so I stick with the latter.

Lastly, I use Toggl.com sometimes to track my daily activity. It stays on in the background and tracks what windows/apps you have open, so it’s good to monitor what you’ve been up to, and assess productive time vs non-productive. You can also use it to deliberately track certain tasks, actually hitting the start/stop button at the beginning and end. It’s a nice little tool, and is free for the light version. The paid version has a lot more power to track tasks and subtasks, but I’ve found the free version to be totally adequate for my use.

I think for pure online work, Freeagent and Harvest are great. If you’re just looking for time tracking and billing, Harvest is the best, but you can’t beat Freeagent for putting together all your bookkeeping tasks in one place.

For offline use too, I can imagine using Toggl to track workers who do manual stuff in the warehouse too. So, someone comes in for the day, fires up Toggl, and then starts to record their tasks. If they pop out to the warehouse they would just start a new task, type that into the description bar, and hit record. Then they could stop it when they come back to their computer.

I’ve definitely not carried out an exhaustive search into these tools, but I have tried a few and these are the ones I’ve found to work the best. Hope that helps!

A question for you – what time tracking tools do you use? How do you track work done in an offline sense, ie. out at meetings, or working in the field? Please let me know!


Colin Gray is a web designer, internet marketer, small business development advisor, elearning lecturer and current PhD student. Find out more about Colin Gray, or contact him on Google+