There’s a few different problems that Toggl was created to solve. The first is that it can be hard, for freelancers who get paid hourly, to figure out exactly how much time has been dedicated to a particular project.
At its most basic, the platform – which comes as a website you sign into from a desktop computer, a browser extension and also a mobile app – allows you to start a timer running as you open up a particular piece of work, then assign a client and a task to that chunk of time.
The service then automatically creates detailed invoices and compiles this data into various reports you can click on to figure out how long a project took, what proportion of your week was dedicated to a particular client, how your workflow varies from day to day, and various other metrics.
It’s simple and effective, although the addition of a few other features might make the process more seamless. For example, the app doesn’t detect idle time like some other time trackers. You could have gone for a coffee break or be staring into space for 10 minutes and forgot to pause the timer, so it will all go into the report as productive time.
With the free basic version of the app, you can track the working hours of up to five people working together in a team – making it ideal software for a small business. This is where Toggl is useful in a couple of other ways: first, team leaders can keep an eye on the progress of the group, and secondly you’ll build up a database of how many hours it took to complete various projects. This makes creating estimates more straightforward next time: it can be easy to underestimate how long projects take, especially when dealing with demanding clients.
Toggl can be a real boost to efficiency, helping teams to quantify what they’re already doing and figure out where their efforts are best concentrated. But it’s not designed to transform how productive they are or to really reorganise their workflow.
For those juggling multiple jobs at once or having problems focusing and prioritising, it’s best used in tandem with other productivity apps and task-management software.
q&a seamless productivity
Jessica Holland expands on the uses of Toggl:
How does the mobile version work?
Much like the desktop platform, it allows you to track working hours while you’re out and about. It works even when you’re offline and syncs back to the cloud once you’re connected again. However, some iPhone users have reporting syncing problems.
Is the software compatible with my devices?
It works on iPhone, Android, Windows devices, Mac OS X and Linux, and there’s a Chrome extension. It also integrates with a tonne of other productivity software, including Salesforce, Freshbooks, GitHub, Asana, Trello and Basecamp.
What does the Pro upgrade get you?
For $9-$10 a month (depending on whether you pay monthly or annually), the Pro plan will allow you to mark certain hours as “billable”, and assign them a monetary value. It will allow you to add an unlimited number of team members, create tasks within projects, export reports to Excel so you can carry out more complicated number-crunching than the automatic reports allow, and a few other extras.
How about the Business plan?
Among the features you get in this plan (which costs US$49 to 59 monthly) are automated tracking reminders, time audits (these help you find entries that have been mislabelled), a dashboard that managers can check to get a sense of what’s going on, and automatic emails with reports at certain key stages of each project. There’s also an intermediate “Pro Plus” plan ($18 to $20 monthly), introduced in March 2016, which allows you to attach one Business feature to a regular Pro plan.
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