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Tools, Programs, and Apps: Electronic Time-Tracking At Its Best

Lindsay Olson

If you need to keep track of the time you work on a given project or for a particular client, it's time to move away from the spreadsheet. There are plenty of useful tools, programs, and apps that help you track your time on any device, from your laptop to your smartphone.

1. Basecamp. In addition to having a great time-tracking tool for paid memberships, Basecamp helps you manage team projects, assign tasks, and track milestones. You can tie the tasks to time spent, so that your project leader can easily see where you're spending the most time. You can also share files with other team members online.

Cost: There's a free trial, and then plans start at $20 a month to manage 10 projects.

2. Toggl. If you're looking for an extremely simple time-tracking tool you can use on any device--mobile or otherwise--Toggl fits the bill. And it works the way you do, so if you prefer to use a timesheet format, you can, or you can opt for live-tracking of your activities. Toggl has both Android and iPhone apps.

Cost: There's a free trial, then service is $5 per user per month.

3. Tick. For those in the service industry who work with a time budget each month, Tick helps you hit your budgets. You can track time spent on each client project, while viewing where you are with your overall time budget. You can analyze your past time spent on a project to estimate how much time you'll need in upcoming months.

Cost: Free trial available. You can manage one project for free, or three projects for $9 a month. Pricing rises accordingly.

4. OfficeTime. Built as an app for PCs, Macs, iPhones, and iPads, OfficeTime helps you assess where your team is on a project, including who's over time budget and who hasn't put the time in. You can use multiple timers to track your time on different projects simultaneously.

Cost: OfficeTime for Windows or Mac is $47, while the time tracking app is free for Apple products.

5. Cashboard. Cashboard provides a little more functionality than the typical time-tracking tools, as it allows you to send invoices tied to your time spent on a given project. You can also accept payments online.

Cost: To manage two projects and bill one client a month, the software is free. To bill unlimited clients, the fee is $10 a month plus $.25 per client invoiced.

6. Harvest. Harvest also allows you to track time spent on projects as well as invoice for it. You can track time using a PC, Mac, smartphone, desktop widget, Twitter, Gmail, and other popular applications like Zendesk. You can send reminders to your staff to submit their timesheets when they're due.

Cost: For a single user, the monthly fee is $12. Free trial available.

7. On the Job. On the Job is a desktop application for Mac computers. Once you set the timer, if you walk away from your desk, the idle timer will detect your absence and give you the option to take that time off of your tracking. The program runs inconspicuously in your toolbar.

Cost: The software has a one-time fee of $39.95.

8. Sage HRMS. If you're looking for time-tracking software that ties to payroll, Sage HRMS provides a little more in-depth functionality. Employees can log their time worked, just like clocking a time card, from their computers. You can easily compute payroll and days off.

Cost: Contact the company for a quote.

9. HoursTracker. HoursTracker lets Apple-product users easily keep track of time spent on projects, as well as generate reports on where they're spending their time. You can input your staff's hourly rate to calculate their earnings.

Cost: The app for iPod, iPhone and iPad is $4.99.

10. FreshBooks. Ideal for small business owners and freelancers, FreshBooks has time billing built in so that you can tie hours worked to invoices. You can assign different rates for different projects, as well as collaborate with Team Timesheets.

Cost: The free plan lets you manage three clients, while managing 25 starts at $19.95 a month.

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.

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