If you decide to work from home as a virtual assistant, you may quickly discover that you need a way to track your time.
Since many virtual assistant jobs pay hourly, a time tracker is crucial for clients. After all, you need to make sure you’re billing fairly.
You’ll find that providing an accurate breakdown of your time is standard practice, and it makes invoicing a lot easier. The more transparent you are about your work, the more clients will trust you with their business.
Even if you aren’t being charged by the hour and instead are working for a flat-fee, the use of a time tracker can be helpful.
As a freelancer and entrepreneur, you need to know that you’re getting paid fairly for your time. Using a time tracker can help you determine how productive you’re being, and how much you’re really getting paid for your work.
If you’re looking how to track your virtual assistant hours, here are the top time tracking tools you can use.
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Built by Toptal, TopTracker is an option that’s totally free to use. If you have a client who asks for clear proof of your work, this is the platform you’ll want to sign on with.
Some of the many benefits of this time tracker include timed screenshots, free invoicing, activity tracking, and in-platform payments through Payoneer.
Even though this software takes screenshots of your work, you don’t need to worry about privacy. There are advanced privacy settings built-in, and all screenshots are blurred so that no information can actually be seen.
TopTracker is the only time management platform that advertises this kind of screenshotting, so if you have a client that likes this then this is the platform to use. Even if you don’t need that feature, don’t overlook this time tracker. It’s also a great tool to track your own productivity as you work from home.
The platform does basic time tracking through the web app, but it is recommended that you download the desktop application to get the full benefit of all its features.
Cost: Free for Basic Plan, $10/month for Starter plan
Toggl makes the list because it’s free, easy to use, and more than sufficient for the needs of most virtual assistants.
It’s perfect for the individual freelancer, but also works well if you are working with a team and need to coordinate projects and tasks with other people.
Toggl is easy to use on both a web and desktop app, a mobile app, or with a browser extension. Your work syncs across your accounts, making it even easier to track things no matter how you’re working.
This video gives a simple, brief look at what Toggl can do:
3. Rescue Time
Cost: Free for Lite Program, $12/month for Premium
If you’re only looking to track your own productivity and don’t need a detailed client report, try Rescue Time. This platform downloads onto your computer and quietly runs in the background as you do your work online.
If you’ve ever wondered how much time you’re really spending on social media or browsing the web, you may be in for a rude awakening. (I know I was when I started using this program).
If you find distractions to be a major problem when you’re trying to focus on work, this time tracker can help. Within the Premium version, you’ll find tools to help you focus and stay productive. For instance, RescueTime offers a focus session mode. This allows you to block certain websites until you’ve worked for a certain amount of time, helping you stay on task.
There is no manual entry with this tracker. Instead, it just reports everything that you’ve done online. If you want to track your work offline, you can add Offline Time to your profile so that it gives you a more complete picture of what you’ve been working on.
RescueTime integrates with all your favorite apps like Slack and Calendar, to help you be as streamlined and productive as possible.
If all you want is basic time tracking, you’ll be just fine with the Lite tracking software. If you’re looking for more advanced features like time reports, project and document tracking, and distraction blockers, you’ll need the premium version.
Clockify is a simple time-tracking program that tracks your attendance, productivity, and billable hours in a simple timesheet. You add what you’re working on at the top of the timesheet, press start on the clock, and it starts a stopwatch.
When you’re finished, you can mark the time as billable if you wish. You also have the ability to enter and edit hours manually. It also is a good option if you’re working on a project with other members of a team, as it’s easy to track progress across the whole group. It integrates with over forty other web apps, including Trello and Asana.
Clockify is free to use and is a good option if you want a time tracker that doesn’t need to download onto your computer.
Watch this video to learn more about what it has to offer.
Cost: Free Version or $12 / month for Pro Level
If you’re a virtual assistant who uses one of the many project management tools out there, you may love Harvest. Harvest is a time tracking app that easily integrates with many other platforms to make your work more efficient and productive.
Harvest offers many of the same features that some of the other time tracking systems provide, including comprehensive reporting and invoicing.
Whether you’re on the free or paid plan, you’ll receive:
- Time and expense tracking
- Unlimited estimates and invoices
- Budget alerts
- Timesheet approval
- Smartphone compatibility
- Integration with over 100 apps
- Phone and email support
The only real difference between the two versions is the number of projects you can do. Within the free version, you can only account for two solo projects a month. Paying for the Premium allows you to work on unlimited projects, and with unlimited members of team.
Cost: Free Version, or $6 / month for Pro version
If you will regularly need to submit time reports to your clients, you may prefer the robust features of MyHours. This time tracking software helps you organize your projects with a list of to-dos and tasks, and then makes it easy for you to track the time spent on each task.
Whether you need to coordinate with a team or you simply want to keep track of your expenses without going overbudget, MyHours can do it all. I love the flexibility of the platform, and how it’s a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to productivity, efficiency, and organization.
MyHours is free to use, but if you want to take advantage of some of its more advanced features and its full array of benefits, you’ll want to pay for the Pro version, which is just $6 per month.
How to Choose the Right Time Tracker
Unlike other gadgets and tools out there, I’m unable to suggest the very best time tracker for you to use, simply because there is no one-size-fits-all option here.
Much of what you end up choosing will depend on your preferences and the type of work you do. Some time trackers offer a clean, simple interface, while others have more robust features. Some download directly on your computer, while others work through a web application.
If you use a project management system or you work on part of a team, it’s essential that your time tracker integrates with the current software you’re already using. This will make things so much easier for you in the long run.
Most of the time trackers do offer some platform integration, but that information is always changing. Your best bet will be to double-check directly with the software when you sign up.
Really, the only way to tell which one works best for you is through trial and error. Luckily, all these options are either free to use or offer a free trial to check out.
Take advantage of these free opportunities to completely test out the tracking program and determine if you prefer it over the others.
The Importance of Tracking Time as a Virtual Assistant
Chances are that as a virtual assistant, your job never quite looks the same from one day to the next.
It can be really hard to put an accurate and thorough price on your services if you aren’t tracking how long it’s actually taking to get things done. You may actually be doing yourself a disservice and undercharging for your services. Time tracking is one of the only ways to figure this out.
Additionally, your clients deserve to know how you’re spending the time that they’re paying for. Offering a thorough, detailed hour-by-hour breakdown is both a courtesy and good customer service.
No client wants to feel like they are losing money due to poor organization or productivity on your part.
Use of a time tracking tool is an easy and ethical way to ensure that you’re getting paid for the work that you do.
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