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OK, I may have overly complicated the title. But here is my issue.

I sometimes work alone, sometimes as a team of 3. Either way, I have to keep track of all time that has already been booked and time that is available for new tasks. Right now, I am keeping it all in my head (and each of us do the same). So when the client asks me for something urgent or when we can start work, I usually take a day to calculate and then come back and update him. But most time this does not prove to be accurate as the schedule changes (delays, unpredicted events, etc.) and when the client comes to me I have to tell him that I cannot work today but in X days.

So far, I did not have any negative consequences e.g. client left me in angry, but this is far from professional conduct.

So, I need quality, easy to use (not zillion steps and features) and most important easy to visualize (all my plan for 1 or more months on 1 screen for example, not 10 steps) online tool where I can track my work and available time.

You will say it's easy to reply, right?! For the last year, I have been using all kinds of tools proposed by this community or Internet, and each was not satisfactory. Either too many options or too complicated to enter schedule, or... and in the end I always keep my schedule in my head. I've tried tools like Google Calendar, Trello, Excel sheets, planner tools from MS Office pack, the real board on my wall, stickers, and even dozen online tools which names I cannot recall now.

So is there any such tool around or I have to create one (kidding on the later)? What tools to do you?

Note: 70% or more guys mention google calendar which IMHO is very uneasy to visualize. Maybe I am using it wrongly (being a developer I usually over-complicate things). If you think that Calendar is the right tool for me, then please show me some quality tutorial which will tell me how to use if effectively without complicating things.

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    This seems like it's more of a softwarerecs.stackexchange.com question – Scott May 1 '15 at 20:23
  • I can try there. I though to narrow it down as freelancers probably use such software. – Peter MV May 2 '15 at 8:08
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Personally I've only used Google Calendar for many years; I have it in sync with my desktop PC, laptop, tablet and smartphone.

I can visualize the calendar by day, week or month and update it at any moment in around 10 seconds by any means. It is very easy and versatile to schedule my work, meetings, renewals, anniversaries, etc.

I don't think that you need a tutorial; just keep it simple and functional. No need to add 1000+ details; use it like a paper calendar you'd put post-it notes (or written notes) on. I hardly edit an event in the calendar; I only use the add and delete functions with very simple 2-3 word labels.

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It sounds like you need a mix of project management and scheduling tools.

Perhaps you need something like PivotalTracker, that gives you a place to input time & effort estimates. Or perhaps you need something like Plan to help you assign tasks to time slots on a calendar.

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    Hi Katy, welcome to Freelancing.SE! Can you please edit to elabourate on how these tools would help in the OP's situation? Otherwise, this looks like it could point to a spammy-like answer. Thanks! If you have questions about this, please feel free to join us in Freelancing Chat – Canadian Luke REINSTATE MONICA May 11 '15 at 16:03
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In a similar situation myself, I too tried many online tools, and all of them bar none were either over complicated, too biased in one direction (task management, project management, calendar scheduling or team sharing) that in the end I made my own. But even that became a headache quickly.

My solution was offline. Two white boards, this month and next month. I etched on a month outline (generalised) on each with a permanent marker, then used dry wipe pens to mark on when or what I was working on. I could book this month time in or next months time in. I could erase things easily, move things about easily enough, colour code stuff, and have as many notes, side diagrams, arrows etc as I needed on them. When the month ended, the current month was erased and labelled next month, and next months calendar became this months.

I even tried to replicate this online but could not replace the value of the freehand drawing over the calendar.

If you build a simple tool that can manage this stuff in a user friendly way online that will be fantastic. I never managed it. Google calendar is brilliant but not for this sort of generalized work planning. So for me the answer was offline, two white boards and some dry markers.

The obvious disadvantage was that it was only available in my office, but since I was in there every day, that was not a problem. When a customer called I could glance down and say, "The earliest I can do that is Thursday" or similar, nearly instantly. Then a quick note on that day, and get back to my work. No fuss, no mucking around, instant, free, flexible and fast.

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I've used a tool called AccountSight. This software tool provides various features in to one. Check out their website at www.AccountSight.com.

There is a time tracking segment, which allows you and your other users to keep time efficiently and submit for review. They even have a time/stopwatch button which tracks the whole time precisely down to a second.

There's also a reporting section, and this is what you are looking for, I believe. It shows all the necessary data you need for quickly reviewing you company work, hours, employee work status, resources etc. You can filter your reports depending on various search filters.

Basically, this tool can help you calculate your hours and availability for your clients quickly, and do the same for your team members. All data is available and provided in real time, so you don't have to worry about making the wrong calculation.

The customer service representatives are very friendly and are always willing to work with you in order to provide the best contents. Their prices are reasonable. I would recommend it.

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