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by Almar Klein | published 03-05-2022 | last edited 03-05-2022

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Effective time tracking for freelancers

Laptop & coffee

Most time trackers are build for managers

Most time trackers are build for companies to keep track of their employees time. Many try to address individuals too by allowing single-user accounts, but this does not automatically result in an effective time tracker for freelancers. These apps are sold to managers, not to the people who fill in their time, and managers have specific needs:

Surely, a time tracker made for companies aims at an intuitive experience for the people filling int their time, but it won't be the primary goal. You cannot take a company time-tracker, make it available for individuals, and expect it to be effective. While these apps often have a lot of features, most are not that useful for the average freelancers, and they can make the app feel cluttered and/or complex.

What freelancers need

As a freelancer, you're probably aiming for a lean way of working. You pursue a certain degree of freedom, while also being accountable for the work that you deliver as a professional. You might have multiple gigs running in parallel and need a tool to help you balance your time. In short, your time-tracking needs are quite different:

A special mention for apps that track you

I have seen discussions where freelancers were asked to use a particular time tracker that would periodically take a screenshot of your desktop. This is not a time tracker made for freelancers, but a surveillance tool for people with trust issues. If a client asks you to use such a tool, you are not in a professional relationship, in my opinion, and I'd personally never agree to that.

TimeTagger is for freelancers

TimeTagger was build from the ground up to target individuals. This has affected many design choices, and resulted in a single-page app that is easy to use, and becomes quite powerful as you get to know it better.

TimeTagger uses an interactive timeline and shows an overview next to it, giving you direct insight in your spent time. You can also set targets or use the Pomodoro integration to help you get more productive.

We put in some extra ♥ for developers and tech enthusiasts: it's open source, we actually value privacy, the UI has keyboard shortcuts, you can export to a spreadsheet, it has a web API, and there is a CLI tool!