Like Simon, I use Google tools to manage just about everything I do. I keep most of my files saved as Google Docs. I use Google Calendar to schedule my time. I rely on Gmail to manage the several emails addresses I have. Having a fairly integrated set of tools makes managing my work a lot easier. I’m always looking for ways to use Google tools to manage a little bit more of my digital life, like using Google Calendar to manage invoices. A new, free Adobe Air application, Google Calendar Invoice Creator, provides the capability to do just that.
The idea is simple: If you’re already keeping track of the hours it takes you to work on specific projects in Google Calendar, the invoice creator can use the RSS feed from your calendar to automatically create invoices from your tracked hours. It’s easiest if you have a separate calendar for each project — rather than keeping all your projects and appointments on one calendar — but adding a new calendar to Google Calendar is a simple process.
Google Calendar Invoice Creator uses the titles of your specific “appointments” to group hours onto invoices for each project. It’s important to consistently use the same project names to keep your invoices updating correctly. As the application receives new information, it calculates the total hours you’ve worked on each project and generates an invoice for that project. You can create your invoices as either text or HTML files. In the HTML version of your invoices, you can control the layout for a more professional look. You can also create a summary report of how you’ve been spending your time.
There is certain information you’ll want to add to the system before you start creating invoices, like your hourly rate and your client’s details. Once that information is in the system, the application will be able to turn out invoices with minimal effort on your part. You can just attach individual invoices to an email in order to pass them along to the appropriate client.
There are some drawback to using Google Calendar Invoice Creator: It’s meant for just one user, so if you’re trying to generate invoices based on several people’s hours, it’s probably not the best option. Similarly, billing different tasks at different rates can be a bit tricky. More complex invoicing applications do have more features, such as the ability to send invoices directly from the application, and easy availability from any computer. It is also worth noting that this application is not an official Google product.
On the plus side, Google Calendar Invoice Creator can run on a variety of operating systems. It doesn’t take long to learn to use, unlike many more robust bookkeeping applications. As long as you’ve already figured out Google Calendar — not a difficult learning curve — coming to grips with Invoice Creator is easy. It’s also free to download and use. If you’re in need of a quick tool to crank out invoices, this application can be quite useful.
What invoicing tools do you use?