Use a time tracker

How to use a time tracker to record client work

If you’re a Virtual Assistant who charges by the hour then you’ll need a way of recording your time. Clients need to know they’re paying solely for the time you spend on their task, and it kinda helps if you know how much to bill them for! If you charge by the project then you probably won’t need a time tracker, but if you charge an hourly rate then you will.

Which time tracker should you go for?

I know that some VAs use expensive all singing, all dancing time trackers but I personally don’t want to spend money on something that I feel is quite a simple objective. I don’t mind paying for stuff, but I’m definitely of the opinion that you don’t need paid versions of everything.

But which one to go for?

Annoyingly, there are a ton of time trackers out there. Some do everything except make the tea and others are literally stop clocks – which is what I was looking for when I first started researching which one to use. I just wanted to punch out when the phone rang or I went to make coffee, then punch back in when I started work again.

So which time tracker did I settle on?

Well I first used a time tracker called Screeperzone that came in the sidebar of Windows Vista (yes, I know that’s embarrassingly old!) and I was really happy with it, but then it disappeared and now I use the free version of Toggl.

What’s Toggl and why do I use it?

Toggl is an online time tracker that also has a desktop app. I like it because it’s clean, easy to use and free! I spent quite a while trying to find a replacement for my old one and was surprised at how many were out there and how hard it was to find one that fitted my needs.

Toggl is pretty simple – you basically punch in and out then create a quick exportable report for your client when you need to.

Obviously your client doesn’t know if you’re telling fibs and are logged in whilst on the sofa eating Jaffa Cakes in your jamas watching Cash in the Attic, but there’s no way to get around the trust issue on this one. Unless they’re using a webcam to spy on you then they have to take your word for it.

I’ve never had a client question me because they trust me.

I’ve heard that some VAs use a pen and paper or just a spreadsheet, but this isn’t the dark ages and I think that, psychologically, if a client sees you using technology they’ll see you as more of a modern Virtual Assistant.

Summary

There are so many time trackers out there and other VAs might want to chime in on the comments section, so I advise you to read their suggestions, try a few out and decide on which one you like best.

The most important thing is that you don’t over-think it and spend days trying to get it right. Just find one that suits you and allows you to easily record your time for your clients.

You might also find my blog post on how I keep my financial records useful plus I have a whole page of other apps and sites that I use and recommend over on my Resources page.

6 Comments

Ali Harriman

I use one called Worktimer, also free, which gives you various options for reporting to the client and will generate an invoice for you as well.

Reply
Loris Ayoub

Question,
I am so very new at this, so I was lucky enough to get my first job. I feel I was a bit slow on my work, not because I wasn’t doing a good job, but because I am new at some tasks and took some time. Now I am scared my client will say those are too many hours.
What do you think?

Reply
Joanne Munro

Hi Loris, first, well done for setting up your own business and for getting a client. Second, don’t worry about something that hasn’t happened yet. Invoice the client and see if they say anything first because I bet you they won’t!

You will get quicker as you go on and you will also become more confident in your own abilities and be able to take charge of your business. It’s all experience and you will learn a lot in a very short space of time. The main thing is not to lose or show a lack of confidence. If you look hesitant about your abilities or rates, then your clients will eventually lose confidence in you. If you’re still a little hesitant then just pretend you’re not – fake it until you make it! x

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.