Shipping our projects and finishing our tasks on time should be all the motivation we need to stay focus. But we're humans—distractible humans—who need little carrots and sticks to keep us productive. We're also forgetful creatures, who will lose track of the time whether we're being productive or not—and when you're paid by the hour by your clients, that can be an expensive flaw.
Freckle is a team time-tracking app that aims to help you stay productive, know where your team's time goes, and ensure you get paid for your time—all in one app. Unlike most business software, Freckle goes out of its way to make the inherently boring job of time tracking and invoicing a bit more fun and whimsical, even. It turns your tracked time into colorful pie charts on each day of the month, to give you a little motivation to get even more done today, and is filled with little animations and cute icons to give it more character than your average time tracking tool.
It all starts off at the Dashboard, where your cursor will automatically be in the Time box for today's date. Type in the time you've spent on a task, tab over to the client and description boxes to add more info about what you've done, then press your return key to save the time entry. You can create new projects right from the time tracking box, and can add #tags with a pound sign in your descriptions to easily find related tasks. Or, you can skip that all, and use its timer apps to log your time automatically as you're working.
Scroll down on the dashboard, and you'll see your team's time sheets that have already been filed, complete with clickable tags and project names so you can dive in and see what else has been done on a project. Every project is color-coded, so your pie charts in the calendar serve as a quick reference of where your time has gone. Or, you can dive into the Pulse tab to see more detailed stats on your time, the total time spent on specific projects, an Activity graph, and more. It's like a Fitbit for tracking your team productivity.
Freckle could be a great tool for tracking time spent on any project, but it's especially nice for tracking client work for invoices. Just open your Projects list, and you'll see a New Invoice button beside any billable project with time sheets. You can then customize the invoice, adding info about your company, client, and opting how much detail to show about the time you've spent on the project. Then, you can add a PayPal payment option, send off your invoice, and get paid directly through Freckle and PayPal. It's a simple way to directly turn your time into money.
Tracking time and invoicing for it isn't enough; you'll also need to make sure your projects don't go over budget, and that your team's being as productive as possible on client time. In each project, you can set a budget cap, then tell Freckle to notify you when a project reaches a certain percentage of the budget. Then, in the Reports tab, you can create reports about any project, team member, or time frame you want—just select the elements you want to include, and Freckle will pull the data together for you. Reports can them be shared with your clients, or kept internal and automatically updated as your work continues.
At the end of the day, what matters is that your team is being productive, and you're spending more time working and less time worrying about getting paid for your work. Freckle, like any time tracker, can't guarantee that you'll be more productive. What it does do is make time tracking and reporting simple enough, you'll have no excuse not to keep up with where your time's going. And its interface makes time tracking just fun enough that you'll want to keep it open all day long.