If you’re a freelancer like me and bill out your services based on time spent on projects, there’s a couple of free small desktop utilities you can try for time tracking.
For years, I’ve been noting down time spent on projects on a sheet of paper by my keyboard. Start time, stop time, working out the interval in minutes then totalling them up to give the overall time spent. Yes, not very productive, so when I read a post about Light Tasks on MakeUseOf, I thought I’d give it a try for a week or so. Light Tasks is open source, small and doesn’t need installing. There are versions for Windows and Linux. For Windows, you just extract the exe file and run it. I found it useful to pin it to the taskbar so it’s always available while working. Running the utility couldn’t be simpler. Just click the Add New Task button and give your project a name.
It’ll show in pink meaning it’s not recording. When you want it to start recording time, click it and it turns green.. and that’s all there is to it. Click again to pause when you take a break, or work on another project or finish work for the day. Each time you click it on, you have a cumulative total of the time spent on that project. I’ve found you can even have several project times running at once if you need that. Right clicking on a task allows you to move that button up or down, rename it, adjust the time, reset the time or delete the task.
The downsides? Well just one that I can see. It’s easy to walk away from your PC and forget to pause the timer, but then that used to happen with my old paper based system too. If that happens, you can always adjust the timer time as I’ve just mentioned. Would also be nice if the program icon in the taskbar changed colour when recording so you could see at a glance if it was recording.
timeEdition runs on Windows, Mac and Linux OS. It’s similar to Light Tasks but gives you more control. For example, it allows you to pause the timer after a certain period of inactivity that you can define, getting round the problem I just mentioned with Light Tasks. You can also classify your task according to customer name, project name and task name. When you choose a customer name, you can also choose the colour for that customer which is a nice touch. It also gives you a breakdown of time spent on the project by day, the current interval and the overall time spent. Clicking the Extras menu, then either Records or Overview gives you all the information you need on time spent on that project on a daily basis and overall.
Downsides? Well seeing quickly if it’s recording or not isn’t quite as obvious as the red-green of Light Tasks. You just get a red dot beside the timing clock as shown above. And again, it would be nice if the icon in the taskbar changed colour when recording. Also it minimizes to the system tray rather than the taskbar which I would prefer.
So if you’re looking for a free utility to track the time you spend on projects, I’m sure one of these apps will be worth trying. I think I’ll stick with Light Tasks for its simplicity. What do you use to track time on tasks? Drop a comment below.