Helping Creative People Create

Time Management Software

A list of the best free and paid time management software available for Mac, PC and mobile (updated frequently).

Time management is critically important to your day. Let’s face it: Everyone has the same 24 hours. It’s those who utilize those hours to the fullest that make the most of their days.

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” ~ William Penn

To help with the task of managing our day, there are some wonderful digital tools available for just about any platform. Unfortunately, a lot of them are outdated, antiquated, or just plain suck. I’ve taken the time to find the best of the best, so that you can quickly find the best solution for you.

If you think I’m missing a resource, please feel free to mention it in the comments.

RescueTime

Platforms: Windows, OSX, Linux, Android

RescueTime

RescueTime is easily one of my favorite time tracking applications. It tracks how you use your computer, from soup to nuts. It tracks what websites you use, and then breaks them into categories for more in-depth look. You can block yourself from distracting websites, and even set manual timers away from the computer.

RescueTime overview

RescueTime is geared more towards individuals just curious about their usage, and less towards companies trying to track their billing.

There’s a free and full-featured paid version of RescueTime available.

Price: Free, Paid($9/month)

TMetric Time Tracker

Platform: Platforms: Windows, Linux (in development), iOS (in development), Online.

TMetric

TMetric is a free time-tracking app with a simple interface for freelancers and teams of any size. It allows you to create new tasks, projects and clients, add tags, edit your working hours, and set billable time and rates on every project and task you work with.

TMetric's main interface

The software also allows you to get detailed reports on tasks and projects. TMetric also can be integrated with many other services you use, for example, Trello, Asana and others.

TMetric - task summary

Chrometa

Platform: Windows, OSX, Android, iOS

Chrometa

Chrometa is cut from the same vein as RescueTime in that it automatically tracks everything you do on your computer and neatly categorizes it. Emails, what article you were reading (and how long it took to read it), etc.

Where Chometa and RescueTime diverge is Chrometa also provides a way to bill clients. You can track meeting, phone usage, and even invoice clients straight from within the app.

Chrometa overview of features

Chrometa also has Android and iOS apps for tracking time on your mobile devices as well. Smart!

Price: $19/month-$49/month

Timers

Here are some simple timers for different platforms. I’ve found that timers on mobile devices are quite handy, so there are a few of those listed in here.

Timeless

Platform: iOS

Timeless timer for iPhone

Timeless is an absolutely stunning iPhone app that takes the default timer app by Apple to a whole new level. You can have multiple timers, stopwatch and countdown modes and gestures and sounds. Themes and labels help customize the app, and its brightly-colored schema is quite refreshing for a so-called boring application.

timeless screenshots

Price: $0.99

Timer

Platform: Android

Timer for Android

Timer–much like the above Timeless–is another beautiful mobile app that greatly enhances the stock timers that come with the phone. With more sounds, themes and overall polish, Timer makes for a great add-on to help with timing.

Price: $0.99

ManicTime

Platform: Windows

ManicTime

ManicTime is a simple, old school timer for Windows. While this list has only the best and most current timing software, I felt it fine to include this. ManicTime is a no-frills timer, and allows you to view interesting charts about your time tracked. It’s not automated though, so you’ll have to start and stop the timers.

ManicTime dashboard

Price: Free, $67

SlimTimer

Platform: Web

SlimTimer

SlimTimer is another dated application that hasn’t changed a whole lot since 2006. That said, it’s still quite handy (and free), so it’s worth noting. You create tasks and then time your work done on each task.

Price: Free

Klock

Platform: Windows, Mac

Klock is a slick project management time tracker that shows you a holistic view of where your time went while working. How much time did you spend on every aspect of the past project? Klock will tell you.

Klock screen of features

Klock is a bit different from other time tracking software for groups in that you can integrate it with other popular team management software like Harvest, Freshbooks, Basecamp, and others.

A nice bonus: you can also sync to their cloud platform for free with the one-time purchase of the software.

Here’s a video overview of the Klock dashboard.

Price: $19

hr

Platform: Mac

HR is quite simple. Create tasks, and then start timing each task. The app lives in your Mac’s menu bar, so it’s out of the way but still always available.

The minimal functionality and design is quite refreshing from the other programs offering boatloads of features.

HR timer for mac

Calendars

I’d be remiss to leave out some of the most important software when it comes to time management: calendars.

Google Calendar

Google Calendar

Platform: Web

There used to be other worthy competitors in years past, but Google Calendar has outlived them all and has become the de facto calendar of the Web. Useful and trusty, it’s the easiest of the online calendars to use. It also recieves bonus points for being integrated with other Google products like Gmail.

Google calendar - add an event

If you’re new to Google Calendar, here’s a video tutorial for managing the basics of GCal.

Price: Free

Paper-based systems

While it’s not software, there’s something to be said for a simple, paper-based task timer. The best out there (as far as I’ve seen) is Dave Seah’s Emergent task timer. Excellent for a quick printout to see what you’ve been up to while working.

Emergent task timer

I find that writing out exactly what I’ve been doing and how long it takes can sometimes bring a bit more clarity and awareness to how my day is going. Your mileage may vary, however.

Price: Free

Invoicing

For the web-based professional, there are plenty of tools that can help with time tracking and invoicing. Here are some of the best.

FreshBooks

Platform: Web, Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad, Android

Freshbooks overview

Freshbooks is the granddaddy of the “Web 2.0” invoicing and billing web software. They’ve gotten so much bigger and better over the years, it’s hard to compare. You can track your time spent on client work over a myriad of platforms (desktop, web, mobile, etc.), and simple billing as well.

Freshbooks - painless billing for freelancers

On top of all that, FreshBooks has an addons directory of tons of different platforms that FreshBooks integrates with to make working and tracking time easier. Everybody wins!

Price: Free, $19-$39/month

Other time management resources

If you’re like me and always wanting to learn more about how to make the most of my time, here are a few resources that I’ve found helpful.

26 Time Management Hacks I Wish I’d Known at 20

A brilliant presentation. Number 1 is probably my favorite, outlining how the author spent his days vs. how the author wished he’d spent his days.

The Pomodoro Technique

The pomodoro timer is merely a simple kitchen timer (pomodoro is Italian for “tomato”). However, there is a technique that involves setting the simple kitchen timer for 25 minutes, working on a task, and then taking a 5 minute break. After every four pomodor cycles, take a longer break. Easy.

The pomodoro timer method

The Pomodoro Method outlined visually (via The Pomodoro Technique

What I love about this time mangement technique is the simplicity. Just a kitchen timer (or any timer, really), and 25 minutes of head down work. I love it.

Phillip Zimbardo and the Psychology of Time

Phillip Zimbardo is a psychologist who gave an intriguing TED talk on how humans find happiness and success best: by putting perspective on our place in time. It seems like common sense, but Zimbardo neatly shows how those who can delay gratification have shown us again and again to be an indicator of success.

Food for thought, anyway :)

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