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.