How to Fill Out a Timesheet in 7 Simple Steps

by Vaishali Badgujar
how to fill out a timesheet

If you want to learn how to fill out a timesheet, you’re in the right place. 

Whether you’re a business owner looking for a simple way to record your team’s hours or a contractor who needs to track your billable hours for invoicing purposes, timesheets are a valuable solution. 

Unfortunately, there is a lot of room for error with traditional timesheets. You need to know how to fill them out correctly to save time, streamline processes, and improve payroll accuracy. 

In this article, we’ll go over how to fill out a timesheet in seven simple steps. We’ll also explore everything you need to know about paper and spread-sheet based timesheets, including their three major drawbacks

And as a bonus, we’ll also highlight a better way to record working hours

This Article Contains:

(Click on the links below to go to a specific section)

Let’s get started, shall we? 

How to Fill Out a Timesheet (Step-by-Step Guide)

A timesheet or timecard is a data table that contains an employee’s working hours for a particular period. Companies use timesheets to record the number of hours worked on tasks, projects, or specific client’s work. 

It also helps prove compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that requires all non exempt employees to submit their timesheets.

According to FLSA, an employer must keep accurate attendance records for their entire workforce — except for exempt employees who tend to be salaried.

Now, there are two ways you can use timesheets:

The most common spreadsheet or paper timesheets are daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and project-specific timesheets. Here are the steps you can follow to fill out any of these timesheets:

Step 1: Enter the Employee Name

In the name field of the timesheet, add the person’s full name whose hours you’re recording. This is usually the person who completes the employee timesheet.

If you have more than one employee with the same first name, their full names should help avoid any confusion. 

Step 2: Add the Date or Date Range

Next, you’ll need to enter the date. 

Based on when they pay salaries, most companies require employees to complete timesheets daily, weekly, or monthly. For example, you can enter the start date of the relevant week in a weekly timesheet. 

Remember, it’s essential to fill in the correct date for payroll, tax, and audit purposes. Inaccurate records can create legal issues for your company.

Step 3: Fill in the Project and Task Details

On a timesheet, employers can group tasks by project to make it easier to see what an employee was working on. This also helps you present proof of billable hours to clients for billing purposes.

You may also need to fill in a list of completed tasks within a particular project based on your needs. This is useful for freelancers or contractors whose billables you calculate on a task basis.

Step 4: Add Working Hours for Each Day of the Week

The timesheet will have a column for each day of the week. You can fill in the hours worked against the correct days. 

This section of the timesheet is important because it allows you to pick up any weekly patterns. For example, if the employee is late every Monday or tends to miss work on a Friday.  

Step 5: Calculate the Total Hours

You’ll then need to calculate your total hours and fill the time in the total column. 

This way, you can see the total amount of time worked each day. Employers can use the information to calculate overtime hours and double time for payroll purposes.

If you’re using an Excel sheet or a similar program, you can use formulas to calculate columns and rows automatically to get the total hours worked.  

Step 6: Add Notes if Required

Most timesheets will have a space for notes. Here, you can enter details such as weekly or hourly rates, reasons for overtime, delays or absences, etc. 

For example, if you had to stay off work to attend jury duty, you can mention it in the notes section.

Step 7: Get Approval

Once you complete your timesheet, you must submit it to your manager, human resources representative, or designated approver. They must verify the details and sign as required to approve the timesheet.

If you’re using an electronic timesheet, you can easily share it with the approver via email, or you can deliver printable timesheets in person.

Looking for a customizable timesheet template?

Check out these free timesheet templates in Excel, Word, or PDF formats that you can download and use today.

4 Different Types of Timesheets

There are four common types of timesheets you can use today:

daily timesheet template for freelancers

1. Daily Timesheets

You can use this timesheet to track how employees spend their time daily. Employees can record each activity by the hour, which is useful for paying salaries to hourly employees. 

2. Weekly Timesheets

The weekly timesheet template is useful for calculating hours and payroll for each workweek.

Employees can add when they start and end shifts. They can also specify their vacation time or sick leave before their supervisor calculates their regular hours, extra hours, total hours, and pay.

3. Bi-Weekly Timesheets

If you calculate work hours or your pay period runs every two weeks, a biweekly timesheet would be the best option for you. Employees fill in their hours and submit their timesheets every fortnight. 

4. Monthly Timesheets

Monthly timesheets are suitable for companies that calculate their working hours and pay periods every month. 

3 Major Cons of Using Paper and Spreadsheet-based Timesheets

While you can use paper timesheets and spreadsheet programs like Excel and Google Sheets to record employee hours, these traditional systems have several drawbacks.

Here’s a quick look at the three major cons of traditional timesheets:

1. Time-Consuming To Manage

Timesheet management in a traditional timekeeping system can take a lot of time. 

It’s tedious to manually fill in your work time each day and then calculate total hours, overtime, etc. You’ll also need to remember the time you start work, go on breaks and clock out.  

Additionally, gathering all your employees’ timesheets and calculating data will take even more time and effort for employers.

2. Too Much Room for Human Error

Whether you opt for a traditional paper timesheet or spreadsheet timesheet, there’s too much room for human error with every time entry. 

Employees can fill in the wrong hours, either by mistake or on purpose. You’ll have no way of determining whether the hours recorded are accurate to the second. 

There’s also the risk of employees forgetting to fill in their hours or committing time fraud by filling in hours that they didn’t work. And if you have remote employees, you have no way of verifying if they are working when they say they are. 

That’s why several companies are switching to paperless timesheets for better accuracy and efficiency. 

3. Productivity Assessment is Difficult

While traditional timesheets help you record the hours an employee was present at work, you can’t be sure how they spent that time. 

For example, you won’t know if an employee was browsing social media websites instead of working on their tasks. 

Traditional timesheets don’t give you a clear picture of employee productivity or help you gauge if it is improving. This can result in inaccurate employee reviews.

A Superior Timesheet System: Online Timesheet Software

Online timesheet software has made tracking employee hours a lot easier. 

Employees can start tracking time automatically when they turn on their computer or open the app and click a start button to begin recording time. The app automatically records their hours and presents the timesheet data in the form of reports. 

However, not all timesheet apps are created equal. 

Some tools can be intimidating for employees who may feel like you’re monitoring them. 

You also have time tracking tools that offer features for project management. For example, a project manager can use the software to monitor task progress and update the project plan accordingly. 

It’s best to choose an app that’s simple to use and employee-friendly but still has all the features employers need. 

So which timesheet tool should you go for?

Simple: Time Doctor

What is Time Doctor?

time doctor

Time Doctor is a powerful, user-friendly timesheet and performance management tool. It’s used by large organizations and medium and small businesses to boost productivity across the board. 

Compared to a paper or spreadsheet timesheet, Time Doctor is a superior timesheet system because it accurately records time and offers several helpful productivity features. 

Here is a quick look into some of Time Doctor’s key features:

1. Flexible Time Tracking

Time Doctor offers automatic and interactive time tracking modes for maximum flexibility.

Here’s how Time Doctor’s interactive time tracking feature works:

  • Click Start to start the timer. 
  • The app will track your hours in real-time and show a breakdown of tracked time based on client, project, and task
  • You can click Stop to halt the timer when your task is complete or if you want to take a break.
Easy and accurate time tracking

Note: There’s also an automatic time tracking option that will begin tracking time the moment you turn on your computer.

2. Detailed Timesheets and Productivity Reports

Time Doctor offers a range of reports to help you record time and analyze productivity, which you can’t do with traditional timesheets. 

With Time Doctor, you get access to accurate timesheet reports, such as the Timeline Report. The Timeline Report shows how much time employees spent on tasks and breaks on a daily or weekly basis.  

timeline report

Time Doctor also gives you several other reports like:

  • Activity Summary Report: Shows the active minutes, active seconds, unproductive, manual, and mobile time for each employee over a selected period.
  • Attendance Report: Know when an employee is present, absent, partially absent, or late, and attendance information in real-time.
  • Hours Tracked Report: See the time employees tracked daily, weekly, or for any date range you choose.
  • Projects & Tasks Report: Shows time employees spent on individual projects and tasks. 
  • Web & App Usage Report: See time spent on different websites and applications.
  • Custom Export Report: Customize what you would like to see in a report without downloading individual reports from multiple pages.

3. Simplified Payroll Management

For a paperless payroll system, you can enable the payroll feature in Time Doctor. 

It allows you to make payments to employees and freelancers directly using PayPal, Wise, and other popular payment gateways.

With Time Doctor’s payroll feature, you can also:

  • Make payments in all currencies based on employee timesheets. 
  • Automate timesheets and upload them for batch payments to pay multiple employees. 
  • Set up payroll for salaried employees or hourly team members. 
payroll management

4. Integrations for Maximum Functionality

To maximize your team’s productivity and track time across other apps you already use, Time Doctor supports 50+ integrations

Some of the integrations available include popular project management apps like Asana, Trello, ClickUp, and more.

Integrations and addons

Wrapping Up

Using paper timesheets or programs like Excel and Google Sheets can help you keep track of the hours an employee works. It can also help simplify business processes like payroll to an extent. 

However, if you really want to streamline your work processes and take your productivity management to the next level, an online timesheet tool like Time Doctor is the answer. 

Not only does Time Doctor help you track time with ease, but this tracking tool also gives you accurate insights into how employees spend their working hours to help manage productivity. 

Why not sign up for Time Doctor’s 14-day free trial to make timesheet and productivity management a breeze?

Try Time Doctor Free for 14 days

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