It is amazing how some people manage to get so much done in 24 hours. While some, like me, have no idea how to get anything done. Time tracking is a must have managerial and life skill. We often throw around the phrase ‘But I don’t have time to (insert anything people ask you to do here)’ but is that the problem? We cannot buy time, and we need to manage it.
There is a very popular saying: what gets measured gets managed. With this thought in mind, I have been dabbling with time tracking apps for the last couple of weeks. There is Toggl, a popular time tracking app that is used by individuals and solopreneurs alike. On the other hand, we have Harvest which is equally popular and feature rich.
Both Toggl and Harvest carry a stylish design, offer a clean and minimalist layout with all the options easily accessible.
Harvest comes with a sample data that it will fill in for you, so you know how everything looks and works.
Interestingly, most features are available in the web version while the mobile apps more concentrated on logging time.
The options are pretty much straightforward, and you will get familiar with them by the end of this guide.
Also on Guiding Tech
2. Teams, Clients, Projects
Whether you are a freelancer or want to track personal life, the basic premise remains the same in both Toggl and Harvest. You add a client, say GuidingTech. You create projects to assign to that client like ideation, writing, editing, social media marketing, and so. To do so, click on Project, select Create and name it. Most of those things depend on your field of work.
In the same way, create clients if you are working for more than one employer. Also, you can create projects for your home to track household chores too like cleaning, shopping, watering plants, etc.
If you are working with a team, you can add people (spouse or employees) and assign different projects to different team members in both Toggl and Harvest.
Not all the work we do is billable. So you can assign billable hours to projects and employees based on what they will be doing. In Harvest, you can also assign Capacity or expected number of hours the person will work on forecasting monthly/yearly expenses. Helpful for budgeting and allocation of funds and time. That will also generate some additional reports.
For the most part, they handle teams, clients, and projects pretty well and in the same fashion.
3. Logging Time
Things begin to shift in favor of Toggl here. You can log time using a timer where you enter the project details, start the timer, and then stop it when you are done. There is a manual mode too for letting you punch the timer before you begin work. In that case, you can switch to manual mode, enter the start and end time manually and save.
In Harvest, you can only use one of these methods at a time for some reason. If you want to switch to the manual mode from timer mode, you will have to change this in the settings. That is cumbersome and a waste of time.
I forget to punch the timer more times than I care to remember, but Toggl makes it dead easy to correct it. In Harvest, when I enter time by duration, there is no way to change the date. I have to save the entry, go back and select edit, and then change date. I am not that forgetful but still that's quite a chore.
Here is the date option now.
Again, in Toggl, you can change the date and time to whatever you want and just be done with the entry. Also, Toggl shows a live timer in the tab, so I don’t have to switch back and forth when working to see how long have I been working. Useful for taking short breaks.
Actually, there is no timer in Harvest. You create an entry and then start or stop the timer. That is a little confusing because, at the time of creating an entry, I am asked to enter a time. In Toggle, you choose the timer mode and click the start button and get busy working.
Harvest will automatically create an entry when you stop the timer.
Smart features aside, the timer is the most used feature of any time tracking app and Toggl gets it better than Harvest.
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4. Useful Features
Toggl and Harvest come with many reports like time reports and billable hours. But Harvest takes things a notch higher here. You can also create expense reports, create an invoice for your billable hours and send it directly to the client. Harvest integrates with PayPal and Stripe to track payments. Tracking expenses can help keep your budgets in check.
Toggl doesn’t offer invoices and budgets. There are some other interesting features like Pomodoro timer to boost productivity, reminders to track timer, and Timeline which will automatically track websites that you visit for more than 10 seconds. Stop using social media so much, unless you are working. There is also Idle Detection where Toggl will keep track of time you spent away from the keyboard. Going offline is a privilege these days.
5. Pricing, Platform, and Integrations
Both Toggl and Harvest integrate with some third-party apps like Trello, Basecamp, Asana, and Freshbooks. Harvest has a long list of other apps that it also integrates with and is leading the race here. Both time tracking apps are available on all desktop and mobile OS with browser extensions. Toggl also works on Linux, and Harvest does not.
Harvest offers simple plans. All features are available for all plans including the free one which is limited to 1 person and 2 projects. After that, you pay $12/month for unlimited projects for 1 person and $12 per person monthly for unlimited projects and users.
Toggl has a free plan which offers all the goodies like Pomodoro timer, offline tracker, reminders and more. To get advanced reporting and project management features, you pay $9 per user monthly and $18 per person monthly for team management features like admin rights, roles, and profiles.
Time is Ticking Away
Harvest is more suited for individuals and teams who need budgeting and invoicing features. For everyone else, there is Toggl. Take control of your life, your time, and do more of the productive stuff rather than wasting too much time doing things that won't matter in the long run. The only way to do that is to track time. Remember, whats get measured gets managed.
Next up: Are you a Toggl user? Here is an in-depth review of how it works and how you can use it to get more done.