How fast do you write? Or edit? Do you know?

My inaugural blog for the Society for Technical Communication, published February 11, reviewed the excellent second edition of What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants. But why should you, especially if you are an employee, care about charging for your work? As I wrote in the blog, author Laurie Lewis suggests that we should “log every activity on every project and then mine those logs to understand more clearly how long the tasks of a prospective project might take.” I would argue that employees and freelancers alike need to know how long your work activities take so that you can provide valid estimates of future work when asked. Knowing how long tasks can take could help you prove to a boss or client why it is impossible for you or anyone to write 30 pages a day or edit 150 pages a day.

Well, Lewis has convinced me: I now use my kitchen timer while performing many of my work activities and then capture my time on scraps of paper or Excel spreadsheets. Several of my freelance friends have suggested a better way―digitally capturing time using time-tracking software.

So I did my due diligence and researched some of the programs on the market, spending 2 hours and 22 minutes (according to my kitchen timer). I’ve narrowed my options to Category 1 below, and I include the others categories that I found so that you, too, might know what your options are if you should want to track your time digitally.

Four main types of time-tracking software

  1. Standalone―used only to record timesheets and generate reports
    1. http://slimtimer.com (free cloud)
    2. http://www.epiforge.com/Grindstone/ (free desktop, away detection, team option [$])
    3. www.pcfworks.com VeriTime Time Tracker (free desktop [shareware], Pro version $)
    4. www.spudcity.com/traxtime/ TraxTime (desktop $, free trial, Windows-based only)
  2. Integrated into accounting system―timesheet data feeds into company accounts
    1. http://quickbooks.intuit.com/ Quickbooks (desktop Mac and Windows, $, payroll)
    2. www.springahead.com/ SpringAhead (cloud, $, free demo, payroll)
  3. Integrated into billing system―used to generate invoices, especially used by contractors and professionals such as lawyers
    1. www.easyprojects.net (cloud, 15-day free trial, $ to purchase based on # of users, invoicing, reports)
    2. www.getklok.com Klok (Klok Cloud Sync for Mobile, Klok Mobile, Klok Desktop) (cloud and desktop, $, free trial)
    3. www.myintervals.com, Intervals (cloud, $ to purchase based on # of users, free trial, invoicing)
    4. www.bill4time.com (cloud, free trial, $, mobile app)
    5. www.getharvest.com (cloud, $ subscription, free trial, add contractors, Mac app)
    6. www.officetime.net OfficeTime (Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, desktop, $, free trial)
  4. Integrated into project management systems
    1. http://www.dovico.com/ Dovico Timesheet (cloud; free for one subscription, $ for more, free trial, mobile app)
    2. www.paymo.biz, Paymo (desktop, mobile, cloud; online invoices, free for one user, $ for more)

You’ll find an interesting matrix of time-tracking software on Wikipedia (it reviews many other programs not listed above).

And now I’d like to ask you to help with this research. If you have used any of the time-tracking software above, please share your experience by answering my one-question survey. (Or you could just comment below, if you wish.) I’ll share your helpful comments in a follow-up blog and article.

2 Responses to How fast do you write? Or edit? Do you know?

  1. Thank you for a really helpful post! I’ll try those two systems that you mentioned–BTW, are you on a Mac or PC?

    Thanks again, Caroline!

    Bette Frick

  2. I work with someone who tracks each minute of time for my projects. He uses Harvest (mentioned in your post), which is a subscription service and also does invoicing. I haven’t tried it. I’m excited to learn more about Rescue Time!

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