Few people like tracking their hours and creating timesheets, but as far as business admin tasks go, it’s one of the most important. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be painful – there are now a range of digital tools available to help you quickly knock out online timesheets. The right one for you will depend on the level of accuracy and simplicity you’re after, as well as your budget. To guide you through, we’ve listed the three main ways to create a smart online timesheet, grading their efficiency, accuracy, user-friendliness and cost.
The low-tech method: use a template
If you have time on your hands, you can build a custom online timesheet from scratch using an online spreadsheet tool. Google Sheets is the most popular way to do this, as it has a user-friendly interface, and allows you to utilize your Google Calendar as a time recording tool. Using a template, you can tweak and personalize your timesheet as much as you like. If you use Google Sheets, your template should be compatible with other spreadsheet tools, and since it will be saved in the cloud, you don’t have to worry about losing data or access across devices. You can also use in-built formulas to do your calculations, reducing the risk of doing them manually.
Of course, using this method you’ll still need to make a manual note of all your hours and services performed – with a granular record of your activity for each entry, for reference. That means that you’ll need to manually enter your hours into your timesheet template. This manual input can easily lead to timesheet errors – not least because updating your online timesheet can be a lengthy process with lots of back and forth. It’s also worth noting that once you create a timesheeet report, you can’t add new projects or delete created projects. Once again, you have to start from scratch, introducing more inefficiency and repetition into the whole timesheeet creation process.
If you don’t want to create a template yourself, timesheet apps are a better option. You use an in-built start/stop timer to log the time you spend on each task, and in doing so manually build out an online timesheet throughout the day. Most timesheet apps provide fields so you can write contextual notes against each recorded timestamp, but that’s generally about as far as the tech goes with this method. One plus of using timesheet apps is that they can generally be accessed across different devices, so you can start and stop timers from your phone just as easily as your laptop – which is handy if you’re working on the go.
Despite a slightly nicer spreadsheet interface, timer-based timesheet apps carry the same accuracy issues as a Google Sheet template. You have to continually remember to start and stop timers – and since doing so is so hard, people often resort to estimating time on task from memory. This obviously leaves online timesheets vulnerable to expensive errors and omissions. The whole stop/start nature of this app also weaves a constant distraction into your day, requiring you to split your attention between your work and the clock.
The quickest and easiest option for managing an online timesheet also happens to be the only one that’s entirely accurate. By using an automatic timesheet app to draft timesheets for you while you work, you can completely outsource online timesheet creation. Using AI, these apps are able to record the time you spend on different work activities – be it meetings, emails, documents or websites – and transform them into accurate online timesheets for you.
You don’t have to remember every detail of your working week, or manually punch in each activity – and there are no manual timers to worry about. The whole idea is to let you focus on high-value, interesting work. Crucially, no one else can see your activity history and nothing goes on your public timesheet without your approval. All you have to do is review the online timesheet drafted by AI and approve it so managers and coworkers can see it. If billing clients accurately and minimizing daily admin is important to you, then using an automatic timesheet app to create your online timesheets makes huge sense.