What's your trick to tracking your billable hours?

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While I'm asking this from the perspective of an employed developer, I'm sure this would apply to freelancers as well. I'm notoriously bad at tracking my time and want to change my ways so I don't play the TimeSheet Guessing Game at the end of the period. I know there are some tools like Toggl and basic note-taking, but it's one thing to know and another to do. Has anyone with the same troubles found something that works for them?

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If you are an emacs user, org-mode offers pretty much anything you need related to time tracking and reporting. I have a blog post (alexpeits.github.io/blog/2017_06_2...) and a short gist (gist.github.com/alexpeits/2acedf36...) that roughly explain the process.

 

Toggl. But with one little trick. I have only one thing I'm doing, it is called 'Job'. And that's the timer, I'm starting whenever I'm working from home or I'm physically at the office. If I forget to start or stop it at the office, I can updated with the info from 'Moves' application.

 

This is a challenge I have yet to really successfully tackle. It's especially challenging if you are in a work environment without an established process and resistance to establishing one.

If you're just trying to do it yourself, it's a hard habit to form and I've never gone more than a week or two before slipping and eventually not wanting to bother anymore.

 

In my opinion (and experience), it's somewhat a creative process. Someone once said that she doesn't like strict counting of sitting-at-the-desk time. She said that when she goes to bed for the night she very often thinks on some work related things, or when she commutes, or when she takes coffe, or when she's at the market. You can't track all such important moments which by the end of the day can be hours of important thinking directly related to the work you should consider billable.

So use Toggl and be creative too ... if you have done a lot of thinking and planning in your head, add this time. Otherwise whatever solution you use works (spreadsheet, text file, todo, org-mode, Toggl) as long as you use it ;)

 

What about a good old spreadsheet? I have a part time job, and I track my hours in a Google Docs spreadsheet, along with my used/remaining vacation days. It works and requires little effort. When I freelance, I bill by value, and I do not need to worry about time tracking (I highly recommend doing this :).

 

I use RescueTime to track my time. I don't personally use it to bill hours or things like that, but I like to know how much time I spend on things like Youtube and Twitter.

 
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Charles D. Villard profile image
Web developer with a passion for front-end development and keeping the web accessible and available to all. His downtime is likely spent cooking, raising his kids, or reading up on development trends.