When I first started out being a freelancer and software developer, the one thing that is giving me a lot of headache is to estimate the project timeline and give a proper quotation. There are times when I quoted too less for an intensive project and end up receiving much less than the amount of time I have put in. There are also times where I over-quoted and resulted in an angry, dissatisfied customer.
Over the years, I have learnt my lesson. Now, before the start of any projects, I will tell my clients that I charge by hours and give them an estimate of the time needed to complete the project. I will then use a desktop time tracking software to track the amount of time I have spent in the project and then charge my clients accordingly.
If you are like me who provide your services on the hourly rate, here are some free and useful desktop time tracking tools that you can use to track the time you have spent on any projects.
Baralga is a simple and lightweight application that allows you to track the time you have spent on your project. On the home page is a big Start/Stop button where you can click to start the timer as you start on the project. There is also options for you to enter manually the total time you have spent on the projects. Best of all, it allows you to export your data to Microsoft Excel, CSV or even as a data backup.
Baralga is developed in Java and works in multiple OS.
Rachota looks slightly complicated than Baralga, but it is in fact a simple to use application with several useful functions. It allows you to define your working hours/day and give you a notification when your working hours are not reached/exceeded. It also allows you to define regular tasks (with priority) so that you can access to them easily on the front page.
While doing your projects, there will be times when you need to take a coffee break. Rather than stopping the timer, there is a Relax button where you can use to pause the timer. Once you are done with your break, simply click the Work button again to start the timer.
Rachota comes with an Analytics tool where you can use to compare the amount of time and work done that you have completed.
Rachota is developed in Java and in available for all platforms (that support Java)
Even though Klok is still in beta, it is surprisingly an useful and comprehensive time tracking application. For each project, you can further split it into smaller sub projects and manage it like any other projects. You can also create templates to be used for new creation of projects.
Once a project is completed, you can drag and drop to the Archive button (located at the bottom left corner) to archive it. At any point of time, you can also access the archive to unarhived any old projects. While Klok allows you to export your data to Excel spreadsheet, there is no ways for you to import any data. This might be a problem if you need to work on multiple computers.
Klok works in all platforms and requires Adobe Air to be installed in your system before you can use it.
actiTime Basic is a free, yet powerful timesheet optimized for your basic time tracking needs. Once installed, you can run ActiTime from your browser. Features include creating new users, setting up customers record and project details, enter the time spent for each projects, allocate your work schedule and best of all, generate an invoice for the time you have spent on the projects.
actiTime uses Microsoft Access or MySQL to store your data. Data collected by actiTIME can be exported to qbXML file and then imported by actiTIME Invoice Importer to QuickBooks® for invoice generation.
Time Tracker is a Windows-based application. One thing that I like about this application is its user-interface. It allows you to see everything in one glance. The projects, tasks and links to reports/charts are located on the left pane and allow you to switch between each project easily and quickly. The main panel that track the time you have spent on your project is of a spreadsheet format so you don’t have to spend a lot of time getting used to it.
The reports section comes with three different type of visual report: text, chart and grid. Depending on your preferences, you can choose the one you like.
Time tracker also supports plugins. However there are only few and limited plugins that you can use currently.
Time-Tracking-Tool is really what I call a lightweight application. Weighing at only 1.3 MB, it is by-far the smallest applications among these 6 time tracking software. Even though it is small, it still comes with the complete set of tools to track your time effectively. You can create new tasks and add sub-tasks to it, activate the timer as you work on the project, view the report with bar chart. One thing that is lacking from this application is the ability to export/import data.
Time-Tracking-Tool is developed in Java and works in all platforms.
What other time desktop time tracking software do you use to track your time?
Image credit: John-Morgan