4 Time tracking methods to boost productivity

People generally track time either by using a simple, basic method (like paper, rule-of-thumb estimates, and spreadsheets) or by using a dedicated time tracking software.

Time tracking methods: timesheet or timer

We can thank several circumstances for the popularization of time tracking:

As more and more people are now relying on timekeeping, they're also learning about its many advantages. Accurate time tracking comes with many benefits for businesses and their employees:

So, the question that remains is — What’s the best time tracking method?

To help you choose, we will devote this guide to explaining 4 different time tracking methods. Stay tuned and take your pick at the end.

Types of time tracking methods

Time tracking represents the process of measuring and documenting your work hours.

People generally track time either by using a simple, basic method (like paper, rule-of-thumb estimates, and spreadsheets) or by relying on a dedicated time tracking software.

We will go into more detail about the following time tracking methods:

  1. The paper method,
  2. The honor system,
  3. The spreadsheet method, and
  4. The time tracking software method.

Let’s begin!

The paper method

The paper method
All you need is a pen, a piece of paper, and a stopwatch

For this time tracking method, all you need is a pen, paper, and your phone (or a stopwatch).

You use the phone or stopwatch to measure the time it takes you to finish an activity and then simply write down your time results on the paper.

Pros of the paper method

Some of the advantages of the paper method include the following:

Cons of the paper method

The paper method also comes with a few disadvantages:

The honor system

The honor system of time tracking relies on an employee's rule-of-thumb estimate.

The system works like this:

You report the time you think you've spent on a project to your project manager.

Your project manager creates a rough estimate of the amount you should be paid based on the hours you've worked and your hourly rates.

Pros of the honor system

Two reasons speak to the advantage of the honor system:

Cons of the honor system

However, the honor system can be problematic due to:

The spreadsheet method

The spreadsheet method
An example of an Excel spreadsheet

In the spreadsheet method, you use a spreadsheet template to manually add the time you started working on a project and the time you finished the project.

Excel spreadsheet templates are a popular choice.

The best practice to follow with the spreadsheet method is to divide your Excel spreadsheet into several columns and fill them in.

Some columns that you might consider adding are:

Pros of the spreadsheet method

The spreadsheet method is a great way to:

Cons of the spreadsheet method

Just like the other time tracking methods, the spreadsheet method comes with several disadvantages:

The time tracking software method

Track time using a timer or timesheet
Time tracking software allows you to track time automatically or add time manually

Time tracking software is a time tracking method that helps its users easily track the time they spend on specific tasks. It involves using specialized software to track time.

Thanks to time tracking software, you can:

Pros of the time tracking software method

Time tracking software comes with many benefits:

Cons of the time tracking software method

Time tracking software has a few low points as well.

Who can use time tracking software?

One great thing about time tracking software is that it’s one of the most universal time tracking methods of all.

Time tracking software can be used by a wide range of professionals:

Companies that usually work with many clients, such as various agencies, and tech or IT companies can rely on weekly or monthly time tracking reports to identify problems and bottlenecks.

Objective look at your business in one easy-to-scan chart
A detailed Clockify time tracking report

Let’s now see how you can use time tracking software to your advantage.

Difference between a freelancer, a contractor, and an employee How freelancers spend time

What types of time tracking software are there?

Clockify automatic time tracker
One type of time tracking software is the automatic time tracker

Depending on the nature of your work, you might want to consider different types of time tracking software.

For example, Clockify, a free time tracking app, provides you with the following:

Track your time with Clockify

All the methods we’ve listed and explained here might be suitable options for someone.

However, time tracking software stands out from the crowd because it:

Personal preference might play a role in choosing the best time tracking method, but above that, you should also think in terms of productivity, cost-effectiveness, and proper time management.

This is why we propose you go with time tracking software if you’re determined to minimize distractions, focus better at work, and boost your productivity in the long run.

Once you try Clockify, a time tracking software already used by millions, you probably won’t go back.

Clockify is available free of charge and for an unlimited number of users — you won’t have to worry about costs once your company starts expanding.

Plus, the software is continuously improving and adding new features, including integrations and browser extensions.

This means that if your needs change or your demand increases, you can be sure that Clockify will follow suit.

Beating procrastination and setting your priorities straight don’t have to be a pain in your neck. With great time tracking software such as Clockify, you’ll learn not to waste your time and become more effective.