It’s easy to lose track of everyone’s time, especially if you are managing a freelancer… or even a whole team of freelancers.

A common productivity hindrance for remote freelancers who is the constant barrage of different online distractions. Whether it’s social media or video streaming sites, these distractions vie for attention and divert focus to non-important things.

As a manager, you put a lot of trust into your freelancers to get their work done on time, on brand and on budget. That could be a whole job unto itself. With everything you’ve got on your plate, using the right time tracking apps can streamline your efficiency and automatically. help you keep a closer eye on what your freelancer partners are up to.

Using an app to track freelance hours will help you with time management and accurate billings. Whether you’re working with web designers, digital marketers, or freelance journalists, keeping track of time and productivity is invaluable for everyone.

Making it easy for your freelancers to keep an accurate record of how they’ve used their time helps free up your time so you can use it to grow your business. It also allows you to review and pay your freelancers’ invoices accurately and transparently.

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Things to consider before choosing an app

Before you dive into any particular platform, you should ask a few questions:

  • Does it integrate with the platforms I use (like Android, iOS, PC, Mac)? Will it suit my desktop work, as well as my mobile needs?
  • Is it the right price for my budget?
  • Is the program scalable? That is, if I start with a free version, will the pay option address my potential needs as my business grows? (Consider factors like the allowable number of users and projects, trackable hours, and so on.)
  • Do the features match what I need and do? If I choose this higher-cost option, will I actually use all that functionality, or will I be paying for features I don’t actually need?

Just because an app is either the cheapest available option or has the most number of features doesn’t mean it’s the ideal one for you. There’s no such thing as a definitive best app. Each one will have advantages and disadvantages over another, so it’s important to take your time first to know what you need before making a choice.

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Reasons freelance managers should use an hours tracker

Poor time management skills can cause freelancers to approach work in a way that scatters creative potential and wastes their time. When they lack focus, their attention is easily diverted or split between tasks. This results in low productivity and, often, mediocre output.

It’s easy for freelancers to switch between tasks and not truly know how much time they’ve spent on a particular project. That translates to inaccurate billing, which isn’t good for anyone. You can overpay and your freelancers could miss out on revenue.

Here are the reasons why you need an accurate hours tracker.

1. Estimates, not guesstimates

When you ask a freelancer how long a project will take them to complete, you might think to yourself “I have no idea.”

Of course, every project and freelancer is different. But with an hours tracker, you can see exactly how much time they spent on a similar project in the past and go from there. It makes it instantly easier to budget both time and money for similar projects in the future.

Because tracking hours has never been easier or more accurate, you can see exactly how your freelancers spend their billable time. There are hours tracking apps for both desktop and mobile platforms that make it easy to switch between projects, tasks, and individual freelancers with just a few clicks.

You can also get a clearer picture of how they spent their days with advanced features like optional screen capture, activity level tracking, timesheets, and invoicing.

These features allow you to more accurately track every phase of a project. The more data you have on how your freelancers are billing you, the better 360° view you’ll have on your team and projects.

2. More time in deep work

You know that feeling of getting into a rhythm and moving through projects with ease? That’s what time tracking apps allow freelancers to do more, well, freely. Hours trackers let them focus on the task at hand without having to interrupt their creative flow just to record their own progress.

These kinds of apps run in the background, gathering data and insights that you can review after they’re done. With an hours tracker, your freelancers can carry on with their work while you can track their progress in the background with zero interruptions.

Once you’re ready to review everyone’s hours, you can analyze your freelancers’ timesheets to better understand their work tendencies. Did you all spend too much time upfront on research for what the project required? Did someone get pulled down a rabbit hole that derailed a task? What processes could you improve on in the future? Hours tracking helps you identify and optimize your team’s performance so everyone can be more productive, now and in the future.

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3. Cut down on non-billable hours

From both businesses and freelancers, wasted time is wasted money. When a freelancer is billing on an hourly rate, spending time on non-billable work like creating invoices and sorting through work logs is painful for everyone involved. Especially if you’re using a separate project management tool (or worse — spreadsheets), and are trying to keep track of time manually.

Imagine the extra productivity if you used the hours you spend on reviewing invoices or following up on billable hours for something that really mattered. Or the time could you save and spend on personal activities if you didn’t have to track freelancers who are manually filling in work logs.

4. Your own personal project manager

Using an hours tracker is like having your own freelance project manager. You can see which tasks are taking more or less time so you can adjust timelines accordingly.

When your work hours tracker is synced with your project management app, you can see the project to-do list, deadlines and hours spent at each phase of the project in one place.

5. Paying freelancers is a breeze

Everyone likes getting paid. For freelancers, who can often deal with big wait times between invoicing and getting paid for their work, you can stand out as a star employer by making sure they’re getting paid correctly and on time.  This is why automatic payroll features are included in most work tracker apps. Once time is tracked, you can easily see invoices and create payroll directly within the billable hours tracker.

For this reason, it’s also important for work hours trackers to integrate with useful business and financial management services like QuickBooks, PayPal and Xero. This offers a better billing process, saves time on taxes and invoicing and leaves both you and your freelancers feeling confident when the next payday rolls around.

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Hubstaff and Hubstaff Tasks: the perfect freelance management combo

If you’re looking for a way to maximize your productivity and streamline the entire freelancer management process, one of the best things you can do is to use Hubstaff and Hubstaff Tasks together.

Hubstaff has everything you need from a time tracking solution. It accurately records every hour and second that your freelancer team works, generates detailed timesheets and activity reports, and even simplifies the invoicing process.

Hubstaff seamlessly integrates with Hubstaff Tasks, an Agile project management solution. Hubstaff Tasks lets you organize your tasks and move projects forward smoothly through an easy-to-use and intuitive user interface.

Plus, using the two apps together is incredibly easy. You can see all your teams’ assigned tasks on Hubstaff Tasks through the Hubstaff hours tracking and track every second they spend on every task with just the click of a button.

Once you’re done with a project, your freelancers can use Hubstaff to automatically generate an invoice based on the total hours tracked and the bill rate to send back to you.

Hubstaff Tasks, on the other hand, helps make sure that you’re never overwhelmed with task deadlines again. You can view all your team members’ tasks and which project stage they’re currently in from one handy desktop and mobile app.

Hubstaff Tasks lets you move tasks from a project phase to another with a drag-and-drop mechanism. You can also create custom workflows that will automatically move a task forward with just a click. With Hubstaff and Hubstaff Tasks, you can focus on finishing your work instead of worrying about freelancers missing deadlines and manually managing invoices.

What’s next?

Many hours trackers aim to simplify the parts of freelancer management that you don’t want to spend your time doing. With the right hours tracker, you can eliminate cumbersome processes and more accurately track your teams’ billable time. Your career, your freelancers, and your bank account will thank you.

This post was originally published in February 2018. It was updated by the Hubstaff Blog Team in October 2019.