how to track time online

In today's fast-paced digital world, managing our time effectively has become more crucial than ever. With an increasing number of tasks, distractions, and responsibilities vying for our attention, keeping track of how we spend our time online has become a necessity for professional productivity. Whether you're a freelancer juggling multiple projects or an employee aiming to boost work efficiency, mastering the art of online time tracking can be a game-changer. In this blog post, we'll explore practical tips, tools, and strategies to help you gain better control by leveraging time tracker online apps and making the most of your valuable time. Let's dive into the world of effective time tracking in the digital realm.

What is a time tracking app?

A time tracking app (Mac, Android, etc.) is a digital tool that helps employees, teams, and entire organizations in monitoring and recording the time spent on various tasks and projects. You can think of it as a digital clock that users can start and stop to log the duration of specific activities throughout their workday. Some are simple manual entry systems, where users input the time they spend on different tasks, while others can be more advanced tools that automatically track activities based on computer usage or specific projects. Time tracking apps provide a comprehensive view of how individuals allocate their time, helping them understand where their efforts go and enabling better efficiency and productivity. They are widely used in professional settings to improve time management, analyze work patterns, and enhance overall productivity.

How can I track my time online?

For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on how to incorporate a work time tracker.  For an employee, a time tracking app can be a huge help when figuring out how to allocate time throughout the day.

Each individual has a different way of working that is best for them. Luckily, there are multiple methods available to choose from when looking at time tracker online options.

  • Manual time tracking tools

    These allow the user to enter time spent on various tasks manually. Some may prefer this option when tracking time allotted for meetings or responding to emails.

  • Automatic time tracking apps

    With this option, the user can record their online efforts in the background, as they happen. This could be helpful if a variety of different apps and websites are being used, as it gives a view into the overall digital behavior.

  • Browser extensions

    These enable the user to track time spent when working within specific websites. Some may want insight into internet usage patterns - this would be the option for them.

We’ll also note that some project management tools leverage time tracking as a feature, so that users can directly connect time spent to logged projects and tasks. 

How can I keep track of my own hours?

At the top of many employee priorities is how to keep track of work hours and pay when embarking on a new project.  We bet you’re asking, ‘what is the simplest way to track time?’ We’ll break this down into a few straightforward steps that involve tracking work as well as pay:

  1. Review your past projects

    Understand how long and what resources were required to deliver a similar project. This will inform your conversation with your client or manager and dictate the project completion estimate and terms. (When using a time tracking app like Harvest, you can send the client an estimate, and they can review, sign, and approve within the app)

  2. Create the project

    When creating the project, determine the team that will be assigned, or if you will be handling it solo. Assign stakeholders on a project and task level.

  3. Kick off the project

    Communicate to your team and/or your manager/client exactly what the project involves, including expectations around the time tracking process.

  4. Align on the pay/budget process

    Assuming your project has a budget and is tied to pay, you’ll want to enter the hourly rates into the project (or the monetary breakdown agreed upon). This way, you can track against a fee-based budget or an hours-based budget. Either way, you’ll have the burndown rate of all hours on that budget. Ensure you can see an accumulation of your billable amount over time.

  5. Identify project cost rates

    Some time tracking apps, such as Harvest, allow you to include the cost rates. This allows you to accumulate the internal costs over time, as team members (or yourself) are tracking that time. Comparing the cost to the billable amount will give a sense of profitability.

  6. Agree upon time tracking status reporting

    Set a due date to check in, perhaps every week. At an agreed upon weekly time, all project stakeholders report their time/progress for that week. You can then break down your budget across different people or tasks. This way, you can see where the project is ahead or behind so you can quickly course correct if needed. (If the project is client work, this is also a good opportunity to to renegotiate the contract if the project is proving to be more/less resource intensive than originally planned). 

The practice of tracking time online is a powerful one. Whether through manual input, automatic tracking apps, browser extensions, or integrated project management tools, the ability to catalog online activities offers valuable insights into time allocation. By gaining a comprehensive understanding of our digital behaviors, we empower ourselves to make informed decisions about task prioritization, time management, and overall efficiency. Harvest has all the time tracking features your team needs to keep track of billable hours and projects. To see how much of an impact Harvest can make for your team or company-wide, grab a free trial.