Whether you run a home business or simply want to be more productive with your time each day, time tracking tools are a technological aid that can diagnose tasks that are efficient and those that are not worth the time invested in them. The time tracking tools that are available today are customized to suite different needs and preferences and help make productivity an achievable goal. We thought that our readers would find a list of time tracking tools useful, as well as a bit of information about each one.
- Rescue Time
This tool offers time tracking service in a neatly organized package that is easy to install and operate. Rescue Time works by tracking which applications the user is paying attention to, not just the ones that the user has open. It also has the neat feature of allowing users to set goals and alerts to keep themselves on track with the tasks that need to be done, rather than allowing themselves to procrastinate.
Rescue Time is compatible with both the Mac and Windows operating systems.
However, one disadvantage for some users is that this tool does store information away from the users own computer. The company does use SSL encryption and other measures to secure data, but some users may still not be comfortable with this.
There is a free version of this software for personal use, as well as the Pro version of the “Individual” product and ranges up through availability for business usage for groups of up to 30 people. The cost ranges from $8 per month for the Individual Pro version to $120 per month for 30 business-level users. One other thing to note is that data for users of the free personal version of this product is 3 months, while the storage for the paid versions is permanent.
- Productivity Meter
Fruitful Time has developed several useful products to help people with time management. One of their latest products, the Productivity Meter, is a time tracking tool that is free for personal use, with a small one-time payment to register the product.
This tool is compatible with Vista and XP, and all data is stored locally to ensure privacy.
The tool has the ability to automatically generate timesheets for client billing and can works offline so that it is still available when internet connections go down.
Sometimes it is difficult to find a tool that is available for both Mac OS as well as Windows. However, Slife Labs has developed Slife, a time tracking tool available for both platforms.
Slife is free, however it does require that Mac users have Leopard version 10.5 or later and at least 1 GB of RAM. For Windows users, the requirements are Vista or XP SP2 and 1GB of RAM. Though these requirements are a bit more stringent than for other tools, Slife is free and does not send any information to third parties. Usage can even be made more private by setting Slife to “Private Mode.”
One of the main advantages of Slife over other time tracking tools that it allows the user to view data from several different perspectives. Some of these are as follows: by application, day, month, document or web page and also by activity.
This useful time tracking tool presents data about what programs the user has spent time on in an attractive and simple graph form.
It also features “time tagging” so that the user can label the information on the graph to his or her preference.
The product is for Windows only and is compatible with XP, Vista and Windows 2003 and 2008.
One neat thing about this particular tool is that it does not share a user’s personal information with any third parties. All data is kept on a local database in the user’s computer. Free tutorials on the use of ManicTime are available here.
- Easy Time Tracking
This software is directed more toward business than personal use and includes many features for billing and such that one person may not find useful. However, the software is designed to have a very low learning curve to minimize the time it takes to use the tool productively.
The tool only runs on Windows, though, so Mac users will have to look elsewhere.
The price for use of the Pro version of Easy Time Tracking is about 50 dollars, but the free 5.0 version is also available for download.
For those looking for a simplified version of a time tracking tool, TimePanic might be worth a try. This tool was developed in Europe, so the cost for downloading the Windows version is 39 Euros or about $54-55. There is a free 30 day trial version available for download on the homepage.
TimePanic is only meant to work with Windows, and for handheld devices that use a Windows or Pocket PC OS the price goes up to about 82 US dollars.
- Time Analyzer
For those who would lean toward a simpler interface and less frills, the Time Analyzer tool could be the ticket.
Time Analyzer is designed for personal and company use and is compatible with Windows only. There is a free trial version available for dowload and the price for licensing one PC is about $30. However, if the user wanted this product for multiple computers, there is a site license available for around $200.
These are all great time tracking tools. There are also some web-based time tracking tools worth considering as well, such as Intervals, which includes additional features such as task and project management. Intervals helps you analyze where your time is going, just like the apps in this list, but in a web-based environment.
I’d like to share with everybody the instrument I used as the productivity tool. Life-log.com is an online service based on a very comfortable and productive approach which I really appreciate.What I really hated in similar tools was that it took so much time and efforts to track different things and daily activities. And you then spend a lot of time trying to understand what I did in the past and how much time it took. And then you still do not have clear picture.
In a theory I like DARPA approach to life logging (sure, I’d like to have all the information confidential and clar to me only), i.e. total trackintg of anything we do. But there is no readily available tools to track everything (and more important – get a real value out of those data to increase productivity, or make my life more conscious or simply become happier). So, when I looked into Life-log.com approach I told myself – ha, that’s what I like. Now, my personal comments on this tool advantages (sure, it is my opinion only, but I know that there are probably another 10% of all people who’s the same way of thinking):
1. It take some time to think of things you’d like to track, it’s priority scale, desired timing and cost/value per minute or unit. It can be activities in the office, it can be off-the-job activities or physical conditions of your body, or grass height on your lawn, whatever you feel is interesting for you to see changing in time. Once you decide – you create so called projects (any number of them) and put whatever you decided to track into those projects.
2. Then all the efforts for tracking things are simply clicking on the buttons named after things you decided to track (and sometimes putting in figures or comments, but very rarely). The system is based on chess clock principles, i.e. one activity at a time and start of activity means stop for the previous one, so you don’t need to think of too many things to track – just of one thing you are doing RIGHT NOW.
3. What is important to me is that there is an opportunity to track results in different areas. It is a fun to see that life is like a wave (and there is a real feeling of life wave frequency when you have enough data).
All the above is good, and in some time – couple of weeks, maybe month, I clearly understand where my time is spent. But what is the most interesting, that I started to feel how time is flowing, started to feel that I need a real target to spend my time to do important things in my life, with priority #1 at the best. I started to think about what my life is – my job, or my home, or something in future or…. Extremely unusual feeling.
Moreover, I also started to track different things – my exercises, blood presssure, weather, mood, productivity, how I sleep, how easily money goes in and out, how I talk to people etc. And I have a feeling that now I can predict the best time for each activity with quite high probability.
Maybe it was a bit emotional or boring, but anybody can go and check it back. Life-log.com (although a lot to do, say add mobile phones or i-Phone to the list of supported tools)