Time Tracking Made Simple, Flexible and Free

In a recent post here, I reviewed Attorney Timekeeper, a cloud-based timekeeping application designed specifically for attorneys. Although I liked a lot about it, the one downside I saw was its price, a monthly subscription of $49.95.

My post elicited a reply from lawyer Mark Lyon, who wrote on his blog about a free timekeeping application, Toggl, which he said lets him “spend far less time managing timekeeping and more time doing productive work.” His post prompted me to try it.

The bottom line on Toggl is that it lives up to its motto, “Insanely simple time tracking.” Toggl is a cloud application that works in your browser and that also has apps that work on your desktop, your iOS device and your Android device. (There is also a mobile-optimized web version if you prefer not to use the app on your mobile device.)

The desktop app works even when you are offline and immediately synchronizes once you reconnect. All the versions synchronize with each other, so you can jump from your smart phone to your tablet to your laptop and Toggl keeps on ticking.

To begin recording your time, simply type in a task (or click on one you’ve already recorded) and press start. Click again to stop. If you forget to start the timer, you can always enter time manually.

Time entries can be organized by clients, projects and tasks. They can also be tagged by any tags you create. Associating a time entry with a client or project is a simple as typing the name the first time you use it and then selecting it from a drop-down thereafter. The same is true for tags.

The Toggl main page shows you a pie chart or bar chart that depicts the breakdown of your time, so you can see graphically what you are working on. Click the “Reports” tab for more detailed reports and for a weekly report.

toggl reports

The main reports page shows a summary of time entries.

A new, optional Timeline feature will record and show you how you spend your day. The Timeline records each website you visit and program you use for more than 10 seconds. The Timeline graph depicts your day in 15-minute increments, with one bar showing the portions of the day for which you have recorded time entries and another showing the programs and webpages you’ve used and for how long. (According to Toggl, only you can see this information and it is deleted after nine days.)

Toggl’s Timeline shows which hours you have billed and how you have spent your time.

Toggl can be used to track projects as a team. Only projects you set up for team sharing can be viewed by the others.

Everything I’ve described so far is completely free and includes unlimited projects and clients. The free plan limits team tracking to teams of five. Toggl also offers a “pro plan” for $5 per user per month. The pro plan includes unlimited team sizes, the ability to export reports to Excel, the ability to set billing rates and track billing in your timekeeping, and various other features.

Toggl can be integrated with several third-party applications, including FreshBooks for invoicing and Basecamp for project management. Currently, it also integrates with QuickBooks Online, but the Toggl site says that integration will be discontinued on Jan. 1, 2014.

By no means is Toggl a full-featured time-and-billing application. It does one thing and does it well — keep track of your time. But it is easy to use, can be used on any device, works even offline, and includes reporting to help you analyze your productivity. This is a good deal for a product with a price tag of zero.

Posted in: General
Updated:

12 Responses to “Time Tracking Made Simple, Flexible and Free”

  1. Kevin Maloney says:

    Thanks much for this post! I was able to cancel my $12/month Harvest account and switch to Toggl thanks to this.

  2. Wyckoff says:

    I suggest paymo.biz. It has freemium options and many more bells and whistles.

  3. Jim Conely says:

    I’m really thinking of quitting Harvest too. I’ve been testing Paymo which I like, but Toggl looks nice too.

  4. Noah Kovacs says:

    What a great tool. I had not seen this until I read you post. I cant imagine not using this now! Thank you for bring this to light

  5. S. Malman says:

    I absolutely use Toggl for all my time tracking at the firm. Thanks for bringing it to our attention again – it deserves to be in the sportlight. In my experience, the $49.95 can be worth it if it’s easily integrated into other software we use here on a daily basis. Still haven’t seen anything better than Toggl yet.

  6. Have you guys by any chance tried Trigger? It’s project management and time tracking rolled into one.

    it’s real simple, and we’re about to integrate it into freshbooks.
    While we’re not free, it’s only $8 per person, and you have everything in one place. you even have the ability to generate invoices from timesheets with 1 click.

    I dont mean to spam or anything, apologies if that’s how it comes across, we’re just letting people know there are alternatives out there. :)

  7. Jonathan says:

    ScheduSoft provide a fantastic solution to those in need of tracking time software. It is software with a difference. Hosting a load of exciting features it is definitely software for those that want the best!

  8. Lyssette says:

    Pardon me for my exaggerated ignorance but these programs everyone is commenting, example Toggl, paymo etc do they keep track of time AND allow for billing, or do you need something else for billing?
    I have been using a very old program that is no longer in production in that of Timeslips & am not very computer or program literate [obvious]. My Timeslips will no longer work & I need to be able to bill my work to court. Can I do it on one of these free or very inexpensive programs?

    • mariel says:

      Hi Lyssette,

      You’ll find that the majority of time tracking apps will integrate with accounting software like Xero, Freshbooks, Quickbooks, etc to handle the accounting side of their business (Tax reports, P&L Statements). Usually the integration will allow you to simply send over what needs to be invoiced, so you don’t have to double handle your info.

      Paymo and Trigger will allow you to generate invoices within the app to send directly to clients. Though, Trigger also integrates with Xero and Freshbooks. Not sure about Paymo.

      The best thing is to have a look at different software, give it a try and see what works best for you. There’s lots of choice out there! :)

  9. CaseFox says:

    Timekeeping is just one aspect of managing your practice. Why use many products (and pay them all separately) when one can do the same. Check out http://www.casefox.com. By the way, CaseFox offers timekeeping via SMS messages too.

  10. work4rus says:

    As of Mar 2014 Toggl has a new web interface. Read my detailed review of the latest version with many screenshots: http://pranas.net/toggl-review/

  11. Thank you! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for to assist with both billing and tracking of my efficiency.

Leave a Reply