what is a timesheet

What is a timesheet?

Learn what a timesheet is, when it's good to use them, how they work, and how you can get started easily.
15. June 2022  • 8 minute read

Find out what a timesheet is and how you can start using them

A timesheet is a way to record the working hours of your employees. Companies use them, for example, to record the time of an entire workday, or to record the time spent on tasks, projects, or clients. Timesheets can be used in a variety of ways, for example, you can keep it daily, weekly, or monthly based on your own preferences and salary period.

Back in the day, they used to be made with pen and paper, but today it is also possible to use a digital document like a spreadsheet or dedicated software. Hours worked can be collected by keeping track of work hours manually or by using time clocks. To record times as accurately as possible, using time tracking software is a wise option.


A timesheet (or time sheet) is a method of recording the time an employee spends at work, or on each job.

When it's good to use a timesheet

It is a good idea to use a timesheet when you want or need to keep track of your employees' working hours. This is the case, for example, when your employees work on an hourly basis or when you want to track over time and/or absence hours. By keeping an accurate record of the time sheet, you can be sure that salaries are paid correctly and there is no confusion about the holiday and/or sick leave.

Keeping a timesheet also provides the ability to forecast future costs. When you know the amount of staff needed to perform a certain amount of work, leading to X amount of revenue, you can calculate your labor rate. Based on the labor rate you can then work on optimizing the way you work. You can check whether the same work can be done with less staff, or whether more staff might be able to bring in more revenue. Furthermore, you are able to forecast the labor costs you will have in the future, making sure you're not facing any surprises.
Keeping a time sheet also allows you to measure productivity. The above example is one way, but you can also compare the numbers of certain days with each other. For example, you can look at the number of hours worked or the total salary and the turnover realized on that day. Based on this you can weigh different days against each other to measure the productivity per day.

To cite an example of a restaurant: if you schedule the same number of staff members every day, productivity will most likely be higher on weekends because it is more likely to be crowded. So logically, restaurants choose to balance this out by employing more staff on the weekends than on other days. By choosing this approach, the workload of your staff is more evenly distributed. Allowing them to deliver work of higher quality while staying healthy.

The time sheet is thus a good method to keep track of working hours, absences, labor costs, and productivity.
time sheet

How a timesheet works

How a timesheet works depends on what method you use to keep the time sheet, as well as what structure you use. As explained earlier, there are several tools you can use to keep your timesheet. These include pen/paper, a spreadsheet, a time clock, or timekeeping software.
Furthermore, there are also several ways to keep track of timesheets. Which way is best for you depends on your needs, but these are some common ways:
  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Bi-weekly
  • Monthly

Daily timesheet

A daily timesheet can be useful if an employee needs to clock in and out several times a day or if work needs to be tracked more specifically, such as by the hour.

Weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly timesheet

The choice of weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly timesheet depends for namely on the pay period. If you pay your employees weekly, the weekly timesheet is the best option, and vice versa for the bi-weekly and monthly timesheet. However, the bi-weekly, and certainly the monthly timesheet can become quite confusing with pen/paper or a spreadsheet. Especially if you want to include breaks, overtime, and absences. This makes the weekly timesheet a popular option. It is simply more manageable and fairly easy to calculate into a monthly total when you pay out monthly salaries.
timesheet template

How to fill out a timesheet

Although there are some differences between the types of timesheets, the basic process is pretty much the same. Therefore, it is important to include the following information in the timesheet:
  • The name of the employee
  • The period of the timesheet
  • Project or job details
  • The hours worked per day
  • Breaks
  • The total hours
Other optional, but very valuable data to include:
  • Over/under hours
  • Sick leave
  • Vacation days

How to get started with timesheets

Now that it's clear what a timesheet is and how it works, it's time to get started yourself. Fortunately, you don't have to start from scratch. There are many Excel timesheet templates to be found in all kinds of different formats. There are also software systems that specialize in simplifying and largely automating timesheets. Here are some of the possibilities you might want to consider and can access straight away.

Excel templates

There are many free Excel templates available in various formats. The advantage of Excel templates is that in many cases it is free to get started. However, this does require access to Excel on your computer, and it demands more manual work and therefore more time to keep the time sheet up to date. If you want to get started with Excel, this template is very suitable since you can decide what type of timesheet works best for you. It contains both the daily, weekly, and monthly timesheet format and you can download it for free here.
timesheet calculator excel

Timesheet software

If you are looking for a way to keep track of timesheets that requires less time and effort, timekeeping software is the solution for you. There are several options available, but in a recent article on the top 6 employee timesheet apps, the following system came out on top: Workfeed.

Keep track of timesheets with Workfeed

Workfeed allows you to automate timesheets almost completely. You can keep track of your team's working hours automatically by means of the time clock or based on the schedule. The time clock is the perfect solution if you want to measure times accurately, precise to the minute even. It works like this: employees check in when they arrive at work and check out when their shift is done. The working hours are logged in the timesheet automatically. Workfeed is a scheduling system, which means you can also just create a work schedule and keep the time sheet based on the scheduled hours.
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Automate your timesheets

Say goodbye to your timesheet in Excel and hello to a simple app that gives you more time and a better overview. From timesheets to shift scheduling - Workfeed helps you all the way.


Keeping a timesheet in order provides an overview of the administration. If the timesheet is in order, you are aware at all times of the hours worked and the salaries to be paid, preventing you from unpleasant surprises.

Furthermore, the data in the timesheet gives you the opportunity to improve the operations within your company. For example, you can calculate the labor percentage, chart productivity and even forecast future staff costs.

You can already start keeping a timesheet with just pen and paper, but this is not the most efficient way of working. Depending on how much time you want to spend on it, an Excel template or and especially dedicated software is a better solution.
Berry van Waarden
Berry van Waarden
Head of Marketing

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