When you own a small business or do freelance work you must find a great time tracking tool to make it easier to invoice your clients. There are many out there, but when just starting out it is often best to try a free product first. I tried a number of systems and landed on one I have stuck with for over a year now, Paymo.biz.
Paymo is easy to use and has a lot of different free features. They do have an enhanced version available for a small fee ($3.99/user/month). The free version will work just fine and you will only need to upgrade if you have more than two users and/or need to produce more than three invoices in a month.
There is a timer available for use through the Paymo web interface or you can download a desktop application. I prefer the desktop widget as it has a great feature that tracks when you are using your machine. So even if you stopped working, walked away from your computer and forgot to stop your timer it will prompt you when you come back asking you if you want to count the time you were gone.
I do not have an iPhone, but there is also an app that allows you to track your time on the go. The app works similarly to the desktop widget in that it works offline and syncs to your online account when a connection becomes available.
I don’t use Paymo to create my invoices, but easily could. You can store timesheets and Paymo will automatically create invoices for you. I prefer to run a report and plug the numbers into a template I find that works best for me.
Paymo allows you to save report templates and save them for future use. Reports can include charts, by project or by user and can be exported as CSV or PDF files. This is a great way to get a visual picture of where your time is being spent.
Not charging by the hour?
Even if you are not billing clients on an hourly basis I recommend you test out Paymo. I suggested Paymo to a freelancer who was is not charging by the hour, but was not sure if the pricing he set for some services yielded him the best profit. After testing out Paymo he was sold. He plans on continuing to use it for the next few months to determine his future pricing strategy as well as track how much administration time he spends (non-billable) on his business. Having these statistics will better allow him grow his business and his pocketbook.
Do you use a time tracking tool? If so, which one have you found works best for you?