The time clock looms above the working man. He toils away as the clock ticks, measuring every second to ensure he works at full capacity. It’s just a picture of every person in the world at his job, be it in a factory or an office.
A time clock rules the working person’s day. Work, depending on your job, is defined by shifts, punch cards, project plans, invoices, billing, etc. Each one of these depends on time. If you get too consumed in thinking about it, you can start to feel like you are in an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
We’ve all gotten so deep in planning our day that it feels like we’re ruled by numbers. You plan to work on this project for this amount of hours, that project for that amount of time, and so on into eternity. Project planning and understanding and strategic scheduling is important, but if you get too caught up in time tracking, you’ll have nothing left to give to your creative projects.
Consider the folks at Bric as the time tracking department of your business. We do all the thinking about time tracking and time clocks for you, so you can just use our resources and go on with your day. If you’re ever curious about what we’re up to, you can read our blog and rest assured that all those time clock stresses in the back of your mind are taken care of by us.
Today we review time clock calculators and time clock softwares that flood your Google searches when you’re looking for a new way to track time. Before we get to those reviews, we at Bric want to know: how did this whole time clock thing get started?
This is some food for thought. To understand time tracking, why we invented time clocks, and why it’s important not to get caught up in a time-centered frenzy, we thought it would be neat to study how humans began to measure time (information adapted from Wikipedia).
You don’t need a watch, a Fitbit, or a time clock to measure time. All you need is to look at the sun (indirectly, of course). And that’s exactly what people did for centuries. Egyptians in particular spent a lot of time looking at the sun, so much time that they decided to assign value to its movements. Not with numbers, but with shadows. The sundial was born.
Eventually, they inscribed numbers around the sundial (the number 12 indicates the 12 lunar cycles of each year), and from there dreamt up machinations of future time clocks. The Egyptians invented a device called a water clock, that could measure time with regulated drips of water, even at night. A whistle was later attached to a similar device, creating the first alarm clock.
As time progressed, explorers and churches used hour glasses and melting candles to measure time. Ship horns and church bells alerted the lay people of the progression of the day. The hunt for precision in time tracking continues today. The smallest duration of time is Planck time, which is 10^-44 second. Can your Fitbit measure that?
What is this hunt to measure time in different ways all about? Why can’t we all step outside and look at the sun and perform some simple subtraction to figure out the time? Why are time clocks so complicated?
The answer lies in our culture of work. Back when water clocks were just an idea in some Egyptian’s head, wealth meant the ability to lay around all day. If you had money, that meant you didn’t have to work. Today, it’s the opposite. Our culture as a whole respect those who are busy. The people who don’t have time to relax are those with high paying, emotionally-demanding jobs. This is sweeping statement this isn’t always true, but the point is this: we Americans don’t have time to think about time. So we have to find ways to measure time that don’t take as much time.
Let’s unpack that a little. In the United States, we value those who optimize their time so they’re working as hard as they can as much as they can. We invented cars so the commute to work is shorter. We invented fast food so we don’t have to waste time preparing food. Computer, printers, and all of these inventions make our tasks more streamlined. All we have to do it is work now. But we still hit the roadblock of inventing the perfect time clock. A time clock that measures itself for us, so we don’t have to constantly fret about how is time is spent.
See how thinking about time gets confusing, defeating, and tricky? Take a breathe, we’re here to help you navigate.
Sand, springs, gravity, electricity — humans continue to experiment with ways to capture time. But now there is the Internet. You can find time clock softwares that simply countdown time. Some automatically log hours in spreadsheets. There are a thousand different project management tools that claim to make your time more efficient.
But which one will make you, and your entire office, happy? Which is the least confusing, most efficient, and most effective at taking the worry out of time tracking?
Bric wants to help you navigate this, so we’ve compiled some quick lists of time clock calculators and softwares that may better help your business navigate the time tracking realm.
First, we explore free options for time clocks calculators available on the internet. Time clock calculators don’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but for some, they get the job done.
These options are sort of the sundials of time clock options. If you’re looking for a water clock, you may have to pay for it. But don’t break your bank, there are more sensible options.
It should be no surprise for you to learn that Bric is a time tracking and project management software, complete with a time clock and employee dashboard. Still, we want you to know your options. We found three other similar time tracking softwares and reviewed their pros and cons. At Bric, we believe in educated choice.
First up, Tracking Time.
Pros: Tracking Time has a few different versions of itself, all of which are relatively inexpensive. It lays out individual projects in calendar format, synchronizing with other calendars on your device. You click on a project, and enter the times you worked on it. It allows you to sort work by clients, and allows for team time tracking. It also has analytic functions to see data from your time tracking.
Cons: Tracking Time doesn’t actually have a time clock. Meaning, you can’t start a clock with the app while you work. You have to keep track of time somewhere else. It also lacks a function that lays out information on each employee, what they are working on, and if they have availability that week for more projects. In that way, it lacks essential capacity planning functions.
Up next, Timely.
Pros: Timely separates time tracking by employee, and lays out employee’s tasks on a dashboard. Like Tracking Time, projects are laid out on a calendar that syncs to other devices. You assign different “tags”, or labels, to different tasks, so you won’t forget what exactly you worked on when you look back at your hours. Oh, and it does have a time clock.
Cons: Timely does have a free version that works for freelancers, but otherwise it is a bit pricey. It’s also a bit confusing for some users. There’s a lot possible on Timely, but there’s also a lot to learn. Implementing timely in your office may take a good number of team meetings and weeks to get accustomed.
Pros: Unlike the two previous time clock softwares, Paydirt is not calendar-based, but client-centered. To start tracking time, users click on the name of the client whose project they’re working on. If you forget to start time tracking, it allows you to backtrack and plug in the minutes you lost. It has easy features that allow you to create invoices on the go.
Cons: Paydirt is the priciest of the three softwares. And, although pleasantly straightforward, it lacks data analysis capacities and fails to provide an employee dashboard. It is a very nice, albeit very expensive, time clock but lacks project planning and capacity planning tools.
Deciding which time clock software is right for your office can be a hair-pulling experience. We hope our comments have pushed you a little closer to a perfect fit.
When we designed Bric, this phrase was in the back of our minds. The modern workplace is streamlined to be more productive. Countless inventions have turned into successful tools for increasing productivity. We believe the next metaphorical mountain to summit is time tracking.
With Bric, we have timesheets that adapt to different tasks and hourly rates. We have time clocks that start and end with individual projects. We have an employee dashboard that lets managers see who’s on track with their work, who’s gone over budget, and who has time for an extra project this week.
Think it’s too good to be true? Give us a free trial. Let us know how we stack up.