What is a timesheet?

A timesheet is a tool, either paper or software, used to track how many hours an employee or contractor works over a:

  • Time period;
  • Specific project; or
  • Both.

Whether paper or software, a typical timesheet uses a grid to map out the time spent per day on specific tasks and/or projects. In the example below, the employee tracks their workweek by both task and project:

All Times in Hours Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Totals
Time spent on:
General Administration 5 3 4 0 0 12
The Gusto Project: Writing 2 4 6 8 5 25
The Gusto Project: Reporting 1 1 0 .5 3 5.5
Totals 8 8 10 8.5 8 42.5

Why would I have my employees use timesheets?

Having your employees use timesheets can help you understand where and how they are using their time. Timesheets can help you calculate:

  • Payroll: Timesheets can be helpful for hourly employees, as they help you calculate how much you owe your employees each pay period. Using an online timesheet tool, especially one that integrates with a payroll solution, can help automate regular payroll tasks.
  • Project estimation: Timesheets give you a historical record of how long it takes your employees to complete a task or project. This can  be highly valuable when scoping and billing projects for your clients.
  • Project and staff management: Knowing how long projects take can also help you plan and staff projects in the future. Timesheets can also help identify employees who may need more coaching and training to improve their skills.

This article provides general information and shouldn’t be construed as tax advice. Since tax rules may change over time and can vary by location and industry, please consult a CPA or tax advisor for advice specific to your business.