My favorite tools to keep track of my time are, honestly, pen and paper. What I lose in snazziness, I make up for in flexibility. I don’t have to turn on my computer or phone, which means I’m better about recording "off" hours. Since I’m not beholden to a spreadsheet or categories, I can describe my time however I want.
However, in this age of apps, many people want something a little more fancy. Lots of businesses need to keep track of employee time, and so the time-tracking product category is pretty crowded. What I like about the 10 apps in this post is that they can also help you monitor aspects of your personal time, so you don’t lose days to web surfing and TV—unless that’s what you really want to do.
With this app, you say what you’re doing, start the timer, and stop it when you’re done. You can code things as personal if you’d like, and create charts of what’s consuming your time. The basic version is free, and full features are $5 a month. Apple, Android, and Desktop.
Running in the background on your computer or mobile device, the free version of RescueTime tracks minutes spent on various sites or applications. This is most useful if you think you have a bad email or Facebook habit, and would like to get it under control. The premium version ($9/month) lets you track time away from the computer, too, and block distracting websites after a desired amount of time. Apple, Android, and Desktop.
This free app lets you track your whole life by tapping on your phone to start or stop each activity. It then produces reports on your day. The clean and uncluttered design is a nice plus, too. Apple only.
Structured to remind you about work-life balance, Eternity divides time broadly into work, sleep, and play categories. Play is good! $9.99 in iTunes. Apple only.
5. Now Then
This app features personal categories such as shopping, entertainment, and travel, and lets you break work into its subcategories as well (administration, meetings). $2.99 in iTunes.
6. TIME Planner
This free app combines scheduling and time tracking features for both work and personal activities. You can schedule a bike ride at 1 p.m., then be reminded to do it, then say if you’ve actually done it—all to keep yourself on track. Apple only.
7. My Minutes
This free app focuses on goal setting. You aim to work out for 30 minutes, or spend "at most" 45 minutes on email. The app gives you a nudge when you’re out of time, or a virtual pat on the back when you hit your goals. Apple and Android.
While primarily aimed at freelancers billing time to multiple projects (it creates invoices and expense reports—hence the price), Fanurio also lets you classify activities as non-billable, which much of our personal time turns out to be. This app nudges you to record time if you haven’t in a while. $59 for a license with free technical support for a year. Primarily for desktop (Mac OS + Windows + Linux).
Schedule your life, then log it. Primarily aimed at work time (you can bill time as you’re logging it), the interface is simple enough that you could create personal projects too. One user with unlimited projects is $10/month. Desktop or Apple devices.
This free app lets you use voice commands, track and bill work hours, and record off-work hours too. Android only.
What time-tracking apps do you use and recommend?
[Image: Flickr user Brian Suda]