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What is a timesheet? A guide for small businesses

2-minute read

Business woman on laptop looking at the time
Sam Bromley

Sam Bromley

1 November 2022

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Timesheets keep track of the time that someone works. They can also log time spent on particular projects, clients, or jobs.

If you want to know how to make a timesheet, here’s our guide.

What are timesheets?

Timesheets have traditionally been used to track the time that someone works, which in turn shows how much they need to be paid.

A timesheet is usually a simple data table that lists the:

  • worker’s name
  • manager’s name
  • dates and days worked
  • time in and spent working (with spaces for breaks)
  • total hours worked

The worker and the manager need to agree on the information in the timesheet and add their signatures. Then, the timesheet can be used to work out the worker’s pay.

Timesheets used to be physical documents. A machine would record when a worker arrived and left for the day (or clocked in and clocked out).

Now, timesheets are much more likely to live digitally as spreadsheets or part of HR software.

Who uses timesheets?

Employers use timesheets to keep track of someone’s time spent working. As mentioned, this helps them work out pay. It also helps employers to understand a worker’s performance – are there tasks that are taking a long time to complete?

Timesheets can therefore help businesses become more efficient, improving performance.

They don’t necessarily need to track individual workers either, as they can track time spent on tasks, projects, and clients.

Multiple workers and teams within a business may use timesheets, for example HR, finance, and project managers.

Workers themselves may also use timesheets if they’re contracting or freelancing for clients. They might be charging by the hour, so timekeeping is important.

Contractors and freelancers can share their timesheets with clients and use them when writing invoices.

And if they’re working for multiple clients, timesheets help contractors and freelancers monitor how much of their working day is dedicated to each one.

How to make a timesheet

As mentioned, timesheets are data tables. This means that spreadsheet software, like Google Sheets and Excel, is particularly suited to making timesheets.

You can find a timesheet template at Microsoft templates to use in Microsoft Word or Excel.

If you want a timesheet template to use in Google Sheets instead, you should be able to find one after a Google search.

You could make a weekly, monthly, or yearly timesheet – but weekly timesheets are the most common.

Weekly timesheets show the hours worked on jobs throughout the week, plus any overtime. The software should calculate totals automatically.

Is there other timesheet software available?

Beyond spreadsheets, there’s specific software that you can use to track time. These include:

Zoho People – Zoho calls this a ‘complete HR solution for every business’. Timesheet management is available, plus you can try it for free for 30 days. Prices then scale depending on the features you need and the number of users you’ll have.

Clockify – is specific time-tracking software. According to customer reviews, it’s suited to businesses that need to know how much time employees are spending on projects, as well as contractors and freelancers who want to keep on top of billable hours. What’s more, there’s a plan that’s entirely free.

Avaza – according to Avaza, you can track time across different devices – for example, if you start on your phone and finish on your tablet. You can set up timesheet approvals and get detailed reports to help with project management. There’s a free plan for this software, too.

Do you use timesheets in your business and would a timesheet template help you? Let us know in the comments below.

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Sam Bromley

Written by

Sam Bromley

Sam has more than 10 years of experience in writing for financial services. He specialises in illuminating complicated topics, from IR35 to ISAs, and identifying emerging trends that audiences want to know about. Sam spent five years at Simply Business, where he was Senior Copywriter.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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