Roman’s Recs: 5 Apps to Help Freelancers Stay Organized
This is the second in a series of posts about apps and tools freelance developers can try to keep them focused and productive.
In our last post, we focused on Roman’s recommendations for apps that help workflow and inspiration. Today, we’d like to take a look at great tools that can help you track both your time and money.
Time Tracking Apps
If you’re a freelancer, you already know that every minute counts. Time is valuable and spending it inefficiently can negatively affect your business. As they say, time is money, but this idiom is never more true than when you’re self-employed.
Whether you want to keep track of the hours you’ve worked or find the most inefficient parts of your workflow (and cut them out), finding a solid time tracking app is essential.
Here are the apps Roman suggests testing out:
Several people from both Testomato and Wikidi use Toggl to log their working hours. Although we aren’t freelancers, we often work remotely so it’s a great way for us to keep track of the time we spend on our tasks.
One of the reasons we like Toggl so much is that it doesn’t try to be more than it is: a simple time-tracking app for both individuals and teams. The design is simple and intuitive: fill in your task and start/stop the timer. You can also get detailed summary and detailed reports of your working habits.
Toggl has web, desktop, and mobile apps. Basic time tracking is free and its full features are just $5 per user / month (plus a 30-day free trial).
In the words of Freckle: “You’ve got to make sure every minute counts… and can be counted.”
This light and easy time management app is great for getting a full overview of your day – just enter the time you spent, the project you worked on, and use a tag to identify what you did.
The smart tagging system works especially well if you tend to go with the flow when it comes to organizing your day. There are also billing features that allow you to invoice using the timesheets you create.
While Freckle only offers paid plans, you do get a 30-day free trial before you make your final decision. The only downside is you have to give a credit card number for the initial sign up.
Just a note: If you’re not into bright, fun interfaces this might not be the app for you.
Timely is an app that takes a slightly different approach to time tracking by using a timesheet-style calendar. Basically, you can track and schedule tasks throughout the week. It’s a great app for getting a full overview of your working hours and it’s a nice way to schedule your hours.
Timely offers a free version and paid plans with a 30-day free trial (no credit card required).
In addition to these recommendations, you can also try Roman’s simple time tracking Chrome extension, which lets you add and track tasks for single sessions.
There’s plenty of other options out there (we also like RescueTime), so if we haven’t mentioned one you like – there’s something out there for you.
Keeping track of the time your work as a freelancer also means you’re responsible for getting yourself paid. It’s tedious work and can even get pretty stressful, depending on how many clients you’re working with.
Some people choose to go the old-fashioned way and use invoice templates from Word or Google, but chances are you’re using (or want to use) an app to simplify the process and make your life easier.
Here’s 2 of Roman’s favorites for invoicing:
Expensify is less of an invoicing tool and more of an expense tracking tool. The app’s main focus is trying to create “expense reports that don’t suck”, but last year they added invoicing options.
So, if your work requires that you keep track of what you spent on a project for a client – this is a great tool to help you simplify the process.
Expensify has a free plan for simple expense tracking and full featured paid plans for businesses.
Added pluses: One click sign up and Bitcoin support.
Simple Invoices is a free, web-based, open source invoicing application that’s easy to install on your server or a Windows PC. It has export options for PDF, Word, Excel, or plain text with multiple types of invoices. Other features include custom fields, tax support, multiple accounts, and more.
If you don’t feel like setting it up yourself, there’s also a Simple Invoice hosting service option or you can check out their marketplace for other service providers.
How do you invoice and track your hours? What are your favorite apps?
Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook. You can also tweet us directly @testomatocom.