No matter who you are, time is an incredibly important commodity. We’re all allotted the same amount of time – 86,400 seconds every day – and it’s up to us how we spend that time. Do you feel like you waste your day away, not knowing where all of your minutes go by the time your head hits your pillow? If so, you aren’t the only one.
Of course, if you have to bill clients by the hour, tracking your time becomes absolutely essential. Tracking your time expenditure is a simple but effective way to see where all of your time is sinking. If you want to make the most of your day, then you need to know how your time is being spent before you can optimize it for productivity.
Fortunately, there are a number of apps for Android that allow you to easily tally your daily use of time, and some also let you produce reports for billing clients or other uses.
Toggl began as a web-based time tracker that has been around since 2006. It’s rather well-known and, due to its long history, has a reputation for being stable. If you use Toggl, you know that your time-tracking history won’t suddenly disappear tomorrow because the service shuts down.
Recently, Toggl extended their service by allowing a direct interface through their Android app. With it, you can automatically click “Start” to begin tracking a time session. When you’re done, you can fill in the details about the session itself, then it will all sync up with the web backend. Track your time everywhere and anywhere with a single click.
If you go to the Toggl website, you can view a full report of the time you’ve tracked. The report will break down the time during a specific period that you choose and it can be filtered by project, users, and tags. The data can be exported in CSV (Excel) or PDF formats. Unfortunately, if you want to use the Billable Time or Billable Amount features, you’ll have to upgrade to Pro, which costs $5 per month.
Like Toggl, Yast is a web-based time tracker with an Android app frontend. As such, you can track your time no matter where you go, then have all of that data sync up with the web server for a persistent history. Keep in mind, though, that you will need some sort of an Internet connection (either WiFi or 3G/4G) to use this program. There is no offline mode, from what I can see.
Using Yast is easy. All you have to do is set up the different projects (or activities) that you want to track, then click the “Track” button next to the particular project when you want to start tracking. If you want, you can even add comments onto particular sessions, describing what you’ve done during that time. The one complaint I have is that the app isn’t very pretty.
On the Yast website, you’ll be able to view reports of your tracked time. Select a time period and choose how you want to group the data, whether by project, month, week, day, user, or record type. This can all be exported into XLS (Excel), CSV (Excel), or PDF formats. You can even get performance reports that compare your current and past productivities, but this feature requires Yast Business which costs $14 per month.
If you only plan on tracking your time through Android (i.e., not ever using a web-based frontend), then Time Recording may be the app for you. It is far more sophisticated than Toggl or Yast, but that also means that it has a slightly sharper learning curve. Have no fear, though, as you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
Once you’re in the app, all you have to do is “Check In” and the app will begin tracking a session. You can edit particular tasks and fill in descriptive details. One useful feature is that you can set hourly rates for tasks, which can be used to track revenue or payment for work-related tasks.
In Time Recording, you can bring up a Worktime Overview that details a summary of the hours you’ve worked. You can choose a start and end date to signify a particular time period. You can also export your time data in CSV (Excel), HTML (Webpage), and XML (Markup) formats. This data can be sent out either by email, sent straight to Google Docs, or uploaded directly to Dropbox.Personally, I found Time Recording’s exporting system to be a little confusing, but once you get the hang of it, it’s fine.
There is a premium version of this app that will set you back $2.95. What do you get with it? The ability to synchronize your time tracking data with Google Calendar and Dropbox. If you think that’s something that you’d find useful, then it is well worth the cost.
Out of all the free time tracking apps I’ve examined, Timesheet is my favorite. The interface is clean and efficient, which is an aspect that I hold in high regard. However, Timesheet doesn’t sacrifice power or features for simplicity. On the contrary, it has a number of options and customizations that you’ll find useful.
With Timesheet, you set up a number of different tasks beforehand. When you want to start tracking, you select one of them from a dropdown menu and then click “Start Working.” The app will handle the rest for you.
Within each project task, you’ll be able to view a Details tab that summarizes the total time spent and the total salary earned (if any of your tasks had an hourly rate assigned to them). You can also export the data from Timesheet into XLS (Excel), CSV (Excel), or XML (Markup) formats for use elsewhere. When exporting, you can choose which project to export, the time period of data that you want, and which data fields to export (date, duration, salary, etc.).
If you think that time tracking apps are more of a hassle than a boon, then I’d ask you to reconsider. Think of it like a budgeting app for time rather than money–by observing where all of your time goes, you can then fiddle around with your schedule to free up more time for activities elsewhere.
Know of any other apps that keep tabs on your time? I like Timesheet as it is, but I’m always willing to try ones that I’ve missed. Share them in the comments!