The 5 Best Time Tracking Apps in 2023

Knowing how you spend your time is a powerful thing. As the old saying goes, “What gets measured, gets managed.” As a freelancer, I juggle multiple roles in my business, which means I have to be vigilant about managing my time effectively. Keeping meticulous records of the time I spend on each client project and business task helps me avoid undercharging for big projects or overloading myself with work.

But time tracking isn’t just for solopreneurs. There are numerous reasons why tracking your time can be beneficial, whether it’s recording billable hours, improving personal productivity, or streamlining your business processes. Time tracking apps make this practice easier, more accurate, and consistently reliable.

In my quest to find the best time tracking apps for individuals and small teams, I considered several criteria. The best time trackers offer both a built-in timer and the flexibility to edit or manually add time. They allow you to attribute time records to specific tasks and projects and provide detailed reports and invoicing features to transform tracked time into revenue.

After thorough evaluation, I have identified the top five time tracking apps that meet these criteria:

The Best Time Tracking Apps

  • Toggl Track for a free time tracking app

  • HourStack for integrating with your team’s project management software

  • Timely for automated time tracking

  • TrackingTime for visualizing time differently

  • RescueTime for reducing distractions

These apps cater to the needs of freelancers, individuals, and small teams, offering a range of features to streamline time tracking and maximize productivity.

What Sets the Best Time Tracking Software Apart?

Understanding how you spend your time not only provides valuable insights into your work patterns but also empowers you to make smarter business decisions. Time tracking apps can give you a comprehensive overview of your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly work. But what do you do with this information? One significant benefit is accurate invoicing, instilling confidence in your billing rather than relying on estimates after the fact. For teams, time tracking helps answer the question, “What have you been working on this month?”

When evaluating the best time tracking apps, I focused on the following key criteria:

  • Real-time tracking: Nearly all time tracking apps allow you to track time in real-time, enabling you to start a timer when you begin a task and pause or stop it when you finish.

  • Ability to edit or manually add time: The best time tracking apps let you correct or edit time tracked after the fact, accommodating scenarios where you accidentally leave a timer running or forget to start tracking altogether.

  • Reporting features: Powerful time tracking apps provide dashboards and reports, allowing you to break down time spent per project, person, or client on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

  • Invoice creation or data export: Aggregating all your tracked time is just the beginning; the ability to take action is crucial. The best apps enable you to create invoices automatically based on the time tracking data or export the information in various formats like PDFs, CSVs, or Google Sheets.

  • Multiple points of access: Top-notch time tracking tools offer convenient ways to start a timer, whether through a browser, desktop app, or mobile device.

What’s Not Included in This Roundup

In this article, I focused specifically on finding time tracking apps for freelancers, individuals, and small teams. I did not consider employee monitoring software or project management, invoicing, and accounting apps with time tracking add-ons. While these tools may offer time tracking functionality, I assume that if you’re in the market for a dedicated time tracker, you require a more robust solution.

Best Free Time Tracking App: Toggl Track

Toggl Track

If you need a free time tracking app, Toggl Track is the perfect choice. Its generous free tier provides access to all its apps across multiple platforms. Toggl Track stands out because it allows you to start tracking time right away without requiring you to set up clients, projects, and tasks in advance. The Chrome or Firefox browser extension makes tracking time effortless by adding a Toggl timer button to various web apps you use daily.

Toggl Track offers detailed options, including automatic time tracking based on browser activity, excellent idle detection, and even a Pomodoro Technique setting. To enhance flexibility, Toggl Track integrates with Zapier, enabling you to connect it with your favorite apps and automate time entries.

Best Time Tracking App for Integrating with Project Management Tools: HourStack

HourStack

HourStack seamlessly integrates with popular project management tools, making it an excellent choice for teams that want to plan and track time effortlessly. This sleek app combines a calendar and time tracker, allowing you to view tasks from project management tools within HourStack’s interface. You can also mark tasks as complete in HourStack, and they’ll sync with your project manager. HourStack’s simplicity and intuitive design make it a pleasure to use.

Best Time Tracker App for Automated Time Tracking: Timely

Timely

Timely stands out with its automated time tracking capabilities. By creating “Memories” of the software and websites you use, it effortlessly captures your activity throughout the day. You can then drag and drop these memories into your tasks or projects to create a Timesheet. Timely’s detailed and customized reports provide valuable insights into your work habits, and its integration with QuickBooks simplifies the invoicing process. To further enhance its functionality, Timely offers a task planner feature for better task management.

Best Time Tracking App for Visualizing Time Differently: TrackingTime

TrackingTime

TrackingTime offers a unique approach to visualizing time. It represents your tracked time in blocks or windows, similar to events on a calendar. This app provides extensive customization options, allowing you to choose between daily, weekly, monthly, or team views. The daily view offers a comprehensive layout, showing a full month’s calendar on the left and color-coded blocks of tracked time on the right. TrackingTime emphasizes planning, allowing you to schedule time blocks for future tasks and recurring events. Furthermore, its integration with productivity tools simplifies time tracking across various apps.

Best Time Tracking App for Reducing Distractions: RescueTime

RescueTime

RescueTime is an automatic time tracking app available on multiple platforms. With a focus on reducing distractions and promoting focus work, RescueTime observes your computer usage in the background. Its innovative features include the RescueTime Assistant, which helps manage your daily progress and goals. The app also offers a “Focus Session” feature that blocks personal activities like social media during dedicated work time. RescueTime provides insights into your productivity habits without tracking time for specific projects or tasks.

The Best Time Tracker for You

The right time tracking app eliminates guesswork from your workday by simplifying timer control, allowing manual time edits, and providing insightful data for accurate invoicing and planning. By automating the flow of data between your time tracker and other apps, you can save even more time. Choose the app that suits your needs best and spend your time where it matters most.

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This article was originally published in September 2018 by Emily Esposito. The most recent update was in November 2022.