8 Best Practices for Desktop Time Tracking


Written by Asim Qureshi
By Asim Qureshi, CEO Jibble

Hi, I’m Asim Qureshi, the CEO and co-founder of Jibble, a cloud-based time and attendance software. I have several years of experience in building and scaling software products and teams across various industries and markets. Before I founded Jibble, I worked as a VP at Morgan Stanley for six years. I’m passionate about helping businesses improve their productivity and performance through smart time management practices.

This Article Covers…

What Should You Look For in a Desktop Time Tracker?
8 Best Practices for Desktop Time Tracking
Final Thoughts


Desktop time tracking software have several unique advantages compared to mobile or web time tracking apps. For one thing, they offer a much higher level of employee monitoring, with some capable of tracking app and site usage, detecting idle time, and others even offering time tracking with screenshots. Desktop time trackers can also keep tracking time even when offline since they’re installed directly into your computer system. On top of all that, they’re generally faster and more responsive than web-based applications since they are run natively on the user’s computer.

These are just some of the reasons why it’s become a time tracker of choice for several companies. But while these tools appear simple to use, how do you actually make sure you’re maximizing their benefits and leveraging their full potential? 

In this article, we explore eight indispensable best practices for desktop time tracking, shedding light on the strategies that empower individuals and organizations to maximize productivity, streamline workflows, and achieve their goals efficiently. These best practices aren’t just limited to desktop time tracking. Try applying them to your general time tracking practices and see the level of difference they can make!

A woman working on her laptop while taking notes. Photo by Tran Mau Tri Tam ✪ on Unsplash

What Should You Look For in a Desktop Time Tracker?

Before you can apply the desktop time tracking best practices outlined in this article, you’re going to need the right desktop time tracker to start with. So, let’s dig into that first.

There are tons of desktop time trackers out there. How do you know which one to choose? What features should you look for? Well, the answer to those questions usually depends on your specific needs. If you’re managing a remote team, you might benefit from a desktop time tracker with additional employee monitoring features. Or, if your team works on multiple projects, a project management feature could be extremely valuable.

Having said that, there are some essential features that are somewhat non-negotiable for effective desktop time tracking. This includes:

  • User-friendly Interface: Look for a tool that is intuitive and easy to navigate, ensuring that you and your team can quickly adapt to its functionality without a steep learning curve. Some desktop time trackers may even offer command shortcuts, further streamlining usability.
  • Real-Time Tracking: Your chosen desktop time tracking app should give you easy access to real-time project progress and time data so you can provide instant feedback on your productivity, allowing you to adjust your workflow as needed.
  • Task and Project Categorization: Look for a desktop time tracker that allows you to categorize tasks and projects, helping you analyze your time allocation and prioritize your work effectively. It also makes billing clients for time spent on their projects much easier.
  • Comprehensive Reporting and Analytics: Data is a valuable resource for decision-making. A robust desktop time tracker should offer comprehensive reporting and analytics tools that provide insights into your time utilization. The ability to generate various report types and customize your analysis is a must.
  • Integration Capabilities: Ensure that your desktop time tracker can seamlessly connect with software and applications you regularly use, such as project management tools, calendars, or invoicing systems. Integration streamlines your workflow by eliminating duplicate data entry and enhancing overall efficiency.
  • Customization Options: Different users have different needs and preferences, so the desktop time tracker should allow for personalization. It’s also ideal if it has a wide array of third-party desktop integrations for a more seamless workflow. This ensures that the tool can adapt to your specific requirements and not the other way around!
  • Data Security and Privacy: Desktop time trackers collect sensitive information about your work activities, so it’s essential that this data is stored securely and remains confidential. Check that the desktop time tracker complies with data protection regulations and offers encryption and authentication features.

Read also: Complete Guide to Desktop Time Tracking

8 Best Practices for Desktop Time Tracking

Effective desktop time tracking is crucial for productivity and accountability in today’s professional landscape. To make the most of this essential tool, consider implementing these eight best practices:

1. Communicate WHY tracking time is necessary

Employees may initially view time tracking as intrusive or unnecessary. And don’t make the mistake of just forcing it on them. Instead, it’s crucial to clearly articulate why time tracking is necessary.

For hourly employees, emphasize how a time tracker can ensure that they are accurately compensated for the work they put in. You can also explain how it helps with resource allocation project planning and ensures everyone’s efforts are recognized and rewarded fairly.

By communicating the “why” of time tracking, you help everyone involved see the value in the process. It ensures that time tracking is not seen as a mere obligation but as a tool for achieving individual and team objectives. This communication builds trust and encourages employees to buy in.

2. Establish clear work boundaries

Setting clear work boundaries is a cornerstone of efficient time tracking. Team members need to understand when work hours begin and end, especially in flexible or remote work environments. For this, you can use the scheduling feature of desktop time tracking apps. Jibble, for example, enables you to set custom schedules for employees and enable app notifications for when work begins and when it’s time to clock out.

You should also encourage team members to only track time during their core working hours and when they’re actively engaged in project-related tasks. Make it clear that personal breaks, unrelated activities, and time outside of working hours are not subject to tracking. This balance helps maintain a sense of trust and work-life separation while allowing for productive tracking. It also prevents employees from feeling overwhelmed or monitored at all times.

To reinforce this, consider using a desktop time tracking app that allows you to label and categorize apps and activities as either work-related or non-work-related. This way, the timer can automatically detect and categorize the time spent on work-related tasks, keeping time tracking accurate and focused on productive work.

3. Start with a pilot program

For those new to time tracking or implementing it within a team, starting with a pilot program is a good way to go. Instead of rolling out a full-scale time tracking initiative immediately, begin with a smaller group or limited scope.

This allows you to test the chosen desktop time tracking tool, evaluate its effectiveness, and address any challenges or concerns on a smaller scale. Once you’ve ironed out any issues and are confident in the process, you can then expand the program to the entire team or organization. A pilot program provides a smoother transition and minimizes disruption while ensuring a successful implementation of desktop time tracking.

4. Organize time around clients and projects

Efficient time tracking also involves structuring your work around the clients and projects you are involved in. This practice allows you to allocate time and resources more effectively, ensuring that your efforts are aligned with your priorities.

Use a desktop time tracker to categorize your work into specific projects and associate it with clients so you can gain a clear overview of where your time is being spent. This organization not only helps in tracking billable hours accurately but also ensures you focus on the most critical tasks. Plus, it helps to simplify the overall process of generating invoices or reports for clients and stakeholders, as your time data is already neatly organized by project.

5. Use employee monitoring features with caution

Desktop time trackers offer a much higher level of employee monitoring, with some being able to track app and web usage and others even having a time tracking with screenshots feature. These can be very valuable features for remote teams or organizations with a need for oversight. However, it’s crucial to use these features with caution, respecting privacy and building trust among team members.

Monitoring should be transparent, with clear policies in place to ensure employees understand why their activities are being tracked and the scope of monitoring. Some desktop time tracking apps, like Jibble, also have built-in privacy features that employers can use for responsible monitoring. The app has settings that allow you to blur screenshots to protect sensitive information and notify users when screenshots are taken. These are great measures for helping employers strike a balance between productivity tracking and individual privacy.

Employee monitoring features aren’t necessarily bad. When used the right way, they can be valuable for team coordination and identifying areas where additional support or resources are needed.

6. Regularly review and analyze your time data

Data is only as good as how you analyze and use it. Make it a routine to review your time tracking data. You can leverage the reports that time trackers generate to identify work patterns, bottlenecks, or inefficiencies. Check on how much time is spent per project or task. Are you meeting project goals? Which tasks eat up the most time?

By consistently reviewing this data, you gain valuable insights into your work habits and how you allocate your time. You can identify patterns and trends, pinpoint areas where productivity could be improved, and make informed decisions about optimizing your workflow.

7. Leverage integrations and automation

To maximize the benefits of desktop time tracking, try using integrations. Many modern desktop time tracking tools can integrate with other software and applications you use in your daily work routine. This integration allows for seamless data sharing, making your workflow more efficient.

Jibble, for example, can integrate with project management tools like Asana and Trello. This means the project time you track via the desktop time tracker can be automatically synced to the corresponding project on Asana or Trello. This not only eliminates the need for double data entry but also ensures accuracy. You can also integrate the Jibble desktop time tracker with payroll systems, customer relationship management (CRM) tools, and communication platforms.

Aside from integrations, using automation features is another great way to enhance time tracking efficiency. Try to check if your desktop time tracker allows you to set up reminders, notifications, and predefined rules for tracking specific activities. If it does, take full advantage of these automation capabilities. By doing so, you can better maintain accuracy in your time records and prevent any tasks from being left untracked.

8. Adjust and optimize your approach

Recognize that your time tracking system isn’t static. Be open to adjustments and refinements as work habits change or new priorities arise. Your approach should evolve with you.

Suppose you’ve been using your time tracking tool for several months, and you notice that you constantly struggle to meet deadlines on certain projects. In this case, it’s time to adjust your approach. Perhaps you need to allocate more focused time to those projects or delegate tasks differently. By constantly evaluating your time tracking data and making adjustments based on your findings, you can refine your time management strategies and enhance productivity.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, eight desktop time tracking best practices. From clearly articulating the “why” of time tracking to creating a structured and efficient system of categorizing your tasks, these practices, as simple as they seem, can help you make the most of your chosen desktop time tracker.

Remember that while these practices provide a solid foundation, every work environment is unique. Feel free to adapt and refine these practices to suit your specific needs and requirements. The key is to maintain a commitment to effective time tracking and continuous improvement.

Incorporating these best practices, along with the ultimate desktop time tracking app, can be a game-changer in achieving your time management goals. Try them out and see for yourself!

Also, if you’re still having second thoughts on whether desktop or web time tracking is the ideal solution for you, this Desktop vs. Web Time Tracking guide can help.