Among all the tools I use in my Virtual Assistant business, I am most thankful for time tracking software. My first experience with time tracking was at a summer job in the ‘90s, where we would write our start time and end time in pencil on a little piece of paper.
Being a child of the ‘70s and not totally used to technology, I used that same method when I did my first project as a Virtual Assistant. But it involved looking at my watch before and after a task, and I didn’t always remember to do that. So then I decided to use an oven timer. The problem was that it beeped sometimes and made me salivate like Pavlov’s dog, expecting there to be cookies in the oven.
Toggl and MyHours
Then I entered the 21st Century and discovered the beauty of web-based time tracking tools. After using FreshBooks for a few years, I recently had a chance to try out Toggl.com and MyHours.com. Here’s a brief description of both tools:
Toggl has a one-click time tracking function that can be done in real time or entered later. You can use it in your browser or as a free desktop app and mobile app for iPhone and Android. It syncs on all your devices and continues timing even when your device goes offline.
Basic time tracking is free, and three paid plans (Starter, Premium, and Enterprise) are available as a 30-day free trial.
Toggl works great for individuals or teams. You can mark times as billable and organize your time tracks by project with tags and color coding. Reports provide an overview of billable time and team progress, and you can export timesheets and email them to customers or supervisors. Toggl also integrates with many other productivity tools like Basecamp, Asana, FreshBooks, etc.
MyHours has a one-click timer you can either use in your browser or as a free iPhone or Android app. Individuals can use MyHours for free, or you can pay a $2 U.S. per month for each team member added. A paid Pro plan (available as a 30-day free trial) is $3 U.S. per month and includes team management, budgeting, and invoicing.
With MyHours, you can either use the timer in real time or enter your time manually afterwards. You can mark your projects and tasks as billable or non-billable and indicate the pay rate. You also have the ability to approve time tracks if you’re managing a team.
Time tracks can be used to generate invoices with a choice between three types of pay rates: hourly, task, and person.
Quick Time Tracking Comparison
After trying out Toggl and MyHours, I compared them to see how their features stacked up. As a Virtual Assistant who doesn’t enjoy math, there were certain things I was looking for. For example, I was hoping they would be easy to use without requiring me to have a lot of accounting skills. I also wanted them to be user friendly so that I wasn’t wasting time and energy that could be devoted to client work.
Both tools did their jobs well, and it was easy to sign up for 30-day trials of the paid versions. Here’s a quick summary of some things that stood out for me:
And the Winner Is…
Of the two time tracking tools, I preferred Toggl to MyHours. It had clean, simple interface that was easy to dive into. Entering my first time tracking project reminded me of updating a Facebook or Twitter status, so I almost started typing, “Used hairspray today and accidentally gave myself a ’90s hairstyle.” Just kidding, but you get the idea. It felt familiar and comfortable.
MyHours had a more complicated interface that wasn’t bad. It just didn’t feel as comfortable to me and made me feel a bit nervous about getting started.
Toggl’s apps had more customizable features than MyHours’, and I especially liked the Desktop app. It syncs with your browser account and includes a Pomodoro timer and notifications for when your timer/computer is idle.
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, “Seven Ways to Thrive While Working from Home,” it’s important to remember to take breaks from your computer work. Toggl’s desktop app allows you to set reminders so that the app will notify you to take a break after a certain time interval.
In terms of support, Toggl’s Twitter and Facebook Page seemed more active than MyHours’, and I preferred Toggl’s FAQ page because it includes both text answers and great photos to illustrate concepts for visual learners.
Toggl’s follow-up emails gave valuable information about apps, subscriptions, and features. Within the space of a week, I received 6 emails from Toggl, including one from a support person asking how my Toggl experience had been so far. It was a few too many emails for my taste, but an unsubscribe feature is available if you want to stop receiving them.
Other Toggl Features
Some other interesting features within the Toggl interface are notifications about new blog posts that keep you up to date on what’s happening with Toggl, and a fun achievement page that notifies you when you reach certain time tracking or project milestones.
The major disadvantage of Toggl is that no invoicing can be done within Toggl itself. Since I already use FreshBooks, I don’t mind because I can just integrate FreshBooks into Toggl. However, if you’d like an all-in-one solution, MyHours is a good option because no integration of other cloud-based accounting services is required.
So all in all, I agree with Bradley Chambers, who wrote an article titled “The Best Time Tracking Solution for Freelancers.” Chambers says,
Toggl offers native apps for Mac and iOS for tracking time, while also including a robust website for overall account management. The free option offers plenty for the freelancer with one or two clients, and the paid options offer a nice step up for people with additional needs. Toggl offers the ability to build clients and projects, but also maintains the simplicity of a simple time tracker. As a freelancer with a full-time job and three kids, the last thing I need is fiddly software. Toggl meets all of my needs without getting in the way.
Do you use Toggl and/or MyHours? What are your thoughts on these time tracking tools? Any others you would recommend?