Contact Us Contact Us Replicon Login

How to Fill out a Timesheet in 7 Simple Steps (Updated for 2024)

  • Replicon Facebook
  • Replicon Twitter
  • Replicon LinkedIn
  • Replicon pintrest

Timesheets have played a pivotal role in timekeeping for businesses and have come a long way from archaic paper timesheets to digital ones.

Businesses use timesheets to track how many hours were spent working on specific projects and bill clients accordingly. For hourly employees, who are paid according to the number of hours worked and even for salaried workers, the timesheet serves as a reference for calculating payroll accordingly.

Whether you want to improve the workflow, accurately bill clients for the projects that your employees worked on, or process payroll for the workers, a timesheet continues to be an all-in-one solution for employers.

Still, if you’re new to the timesheet system, this blog post is just for you and will cover the basics of timesheets, their applicability, and how to fill them correctly.

Also, you’ll learn how digital timesheets solve the challenges created by using paper timesheets.

online timesheet page displayed on a tablet

How to Fill Out A Timesheet

To start off, managers can fill in basic details and then share them with employees to complete their work hours.

Step 1: Enter the Employee’s Name

Ask your employees to write their full name on the timesheet, as mentioned in their contract and other employee documents.

Ensure they write the full name, as it’ll eliminate the confusion between employees with the same names.

Note: You can write the names of your employees in the timesheet or ask them to add it to their respective timesheets.

  • Write full name as in the contract, including first and last name
  • Avoid writing partial or nickname

Step 2: Add the Date Range

Enter the date range of the working days for which the timesheet needs to be filled.

Employers may prefer daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly timesheets, depending on their pay period or other parameters. So, add a date range of the working days for the slot you need employees to fill in the timesheet or ask them to fill it themselves.

Step 3: Add Project Details

While filling out a timesheet, ask your employees to add the details of the projects they’ve worked on. As most employees work on multiple projects simultaneously, it’s crucial to provide work hour details for each project to bill clients accurately. This detail helps clients understand how much time they spent on their projects and individual tasks.

Project Details To be Added to Timesheets

  • Project roles
  • Type of project
  • Location
  • Project code
  • Timeline
  • Project goals
  • ETAs
  • Estimated budget

Step 4: Add Work Hours for Each Workday

Now, it’s time to fill in the work hours for each workday in the timesheet. In this section, you can ask your employees to input clock-in and clock-out times for each workday, break time, and the total hours worked. The clock-in and clock-out times, along with the break times, help verify:

  • Hours they’ve worked each day
  • Overtime hours, if any
  • Whether they’re completing the mandatory workweek hours daily
  • Punctuality patterns
  • Whether they’re availing the break times beyond the time limit

As an employer, you can even consider dividing work hours into sections like billable and non-billable hours so you can easily calculate billable hours for the clients. Also, make sure to give employees a brief about how these differ from each other so they can input the details of their work hours accordingly.

For example, preparing project estimates, creating budgets for future projects, and sending work updates to clients will be considered billable hours, whereas upgrading your email software will be counted in non-billable hours, as it’s not directly related to the client’s project.

Note: For hourly employees, filling a timesheet can be slightly different than the salaried employees as hourly workers don’t usually have a fixed schedule or may not even have fixed working days, as they usually work by the hours. The days in which they work can differ, such as Tuesday to Saturday. Also, for each workday that an hourly employee works, all the work hours need to be tracked along with the tasks being worked on during each hour for better transparency.

Step 5: Determine Total Work Hours

Once your employees have filled in the clock-in and clock-out times, and total work hours for each day, it’s time to calculate the total hours they worked in a particular span, such as in a week, two weeks, or a month. This information gives employers an overview of how many hours the employees worked in a week/fortnight/month.

If you leverage MS Excel or other types of spreadsheets for time tracking, employees can use formulas to calculate the total work hours automatically. Also, with timesheets, the employer can also calculate any overtime hours or any extra shifts taken so that payroll can be calculated accordingly.

Step 6: Add Notes, if Required

Timesheets may have a note column where employees can input additional details that the employer or client must know. The note can comprise details such as overtime notes, shift swaps, or reasons for delay. For instance, if an employee had to get off work to cast a vote, they can consider noting that down in this section. Similarly, if they swapped a shift with another coworker, that too can be mentioned in the notes.

  • Overtime worked
  • Project delays
  • Submission for leave
  • Time-off requests
  • Shift swap

Step 7: Submit the Timesheet for Approval

After completing the timesheet, it’s time to share it with the designated manager or administrators or supervisors. As per the system that a company uses, employees can either send it electronically or hand it over manually to their respective managers. The manager will review the timesheet, sign it as an approval and share it with the billing or payroll department.

steps to fill out a timesheet

Importance of Filling in a Timesheet Correctly

Timely Payroll Processing

Timesheets serve as proof of how many hours employees worked, thus helping calculate payroll for them. Accurately filling timesheets isn’t just a task; it’s a responsibility that ensures the right compensation for employees. It’s crucial to understand that errors in calculation and payment can lead to financial discrepancies, violation of labor laws, and lower employee morale, underscoring the importance of your role in this process.

Thus, filling timesheets ensures that you pay employees for hours they’ve worked, including overtime, and demonstrates your commitment to their fair compensation. In fact, employers can also use timesheet templates that have built-in fields to record time on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. These templates are easy to use as they can be downloaded and used immediately.

Accurate Billing

Recording time is essential to bill clients accurately and promptly. Erroneous billing can lead to overcharging or undercharging the clients, which can dent your revenue, damage your firm’s reputation, and, in some cases, even sever the client relationship.

Employers can use timesheets to give an overview to the client regarding how many hours were spent on the project and individual tasks. Thus, it helps clients understand whether their money was put to good use.

Tracking of Project Costs

Businesses need to track the project costs, whether any projects are going over budget, or if any project leads to cost overrun. With these insights, they can optimize the projects, make necessary adjustments, or make informed decisions to ensure profitability and account for all costs to lessen revenue leakage. For example, you can check whether your project is progressing as per the estimated budget or if there are any extra costs that need to be considered to keep it running smoothly.

Also, by tracking project costs, you can understand whether you’re losing money or making money on several projects. For instance, if a project is not profitable and instead causes cost overrun, you can consider doing away with such projects and utilize your resources for profitable projects. Also, by saving historical project information, you can use it as a reference to forecast the total duration and budgeting for future projects of a similar nature.

Measurement of Employee Performance

Equipped with timesheets, employers can check how employees use their time and which activities and projects they are involved in to ascertain whether employees are spending their time strategically.

They can compare and see if some employees are taking more time than usual to complete their tasks. Accordingly, they can provide necessary training on skill building or time management to such employees.

They can also check if employees are completing work on or before time and possibly ask them to take on more tasks. Or employees who perform exceedingly well in an area can be identified for more crucial projects. In all these ways and more, a timesheet helps employers assess employee performance and optimize productivity and workflow.

Moreover, employers with a hybrid and remote workforce need to closely track employee work activities, hours spent at work, and time invested in particular tasks to assess overall performance and productivity. This is where timesheets play a vital role in ascertaining employee performance and daily work activities.

Staying Compliant

Timesheets help employers stay compliant with the applicable regional and federal labor laws, eliminating the likelihood of legal issues.

In order to stay compliant with the FLSA rules and regulations, employers must have an accurate record of employee’s work hours, overtime hours, and leave usage. Time-tracking software helps organizations stay compliant with applicable rules and regulations by tracking accurate employee work hours, managing overtime, and providing precise documentation for auditing purposes.

White keyboard having a blue button with compliance text

Time Card vs. Timesheet

Time cards are the time-stamped cards that are used to track the employee’s work hours, specifically when they clock in and out for their shifts. Thus, this system mostly measures the starting and ending of employees’ working duration but has become outdated due to less visibility into work activities.

On the other hand, a timesheet is an evolving tool that captures not just the clock-in and clock-out times but also records the time spent across several tasks and projects for better billing and payroll processing.

Despite the wave of digital transformation that has taken over many organizations, there are many setups that are still relying on paper timesheets. Mentioned below are the various reasons why using such timesheets can be disadvantageous.

Drawbacks of Using Paper-Based Timesheets

Prone to Errors

Paper timesheets are filled manually and are prone to erroneous entries due to illegible writing, missed digits, or incorrect data entry. Such errors can lead to discrepancies in payroll processing for hourly workers. Also, it can result in overcharging or undercharging clients, which can cause disputes and severely damage a firm’s reputation.


Manually filling timesheets is time-consuming and cumbersome. On top of that, reviewing each sheet manually for larger teams takes a great deal of time.

Paper timesheets consume your time and that of your employees, as filling them daily or weekly adds to their workload. The managers also lose hours of their precious time processing these timesheets, which they could have used for more significant work. The processing of individual paper timesheets adds to the administrative burden.

Compared to payroll processing that can take days when paper or spreadsheet based timesheets are involved, the ones generated using time-tracking software can actually bring that time down to one day or even a few hours in some cases.

Also, if employers prioritize this task over others, then it may delay the other core tasks. On the other hand, if they deprioritize the timesheet processing, then it can lead to a pile-up of timesheets, and checking them in haste at the last moment can give rise to more errors.

Easy to Tamper

Paper timesheets are susceptible to being tampered by the employees. Time theft is the most common practice in the workplace, where employees fudge the numbers on their timesheets to earn money even for the time they didn’t work. Time theft costs businesses thousands of dollars annually and can bring significant financial losses if not prevented on time.

No Backups

Paper timesheets are more likely to get misplaced or saved in the wrong folder. This makes retrieval difficult at the time of need unless you keep their copies. So, if the only copy of the timesheet data gets lost or destroyed, there’s no backup to restore the data.

Validating the Timesheets

Once the managers receive the timesheets from employees, they need to check whether everyone has filled in their timesheets or if there are any incomplete timesheets. If the timesheet isn’t filled out properly, they may need to send it back to the employees, giving rise to a lot of back-and-forth communication.

Inability to Generate Reports

Generating reports from paper timesheets is quite difficult and cumbersome, as you need to assess and input data manually from the timesheets. Even in the case of spreadsheets, it becomes difficult to aggregate data in order to create a specific report that can showcase specific data for better assessment.


For small-sized firms, paper timesheets work well. However, as the size of the team grows, it becomes taxing to keep track of a large number of timesheets. Even tracking multiple spreadsheets can become harder.

How Digital Timesheets Can Work Wonders

infographic showing benefits of digital timesheets

No More Manual Tracking

Unlike paper timesheets, digital timesheets eliminate the inconvenience of manually inputting the time entries by automating the process. In fact, time-tracking software with AI capabilities automatically capture employee work hours and activities across various work apps that employees use.

Moreover, it allows you to create configurable templates that can cater to your specific needs. With these settings, you can create a timesheet template for specific users with preset validation rules and conditions.

For example, you want to allow only a certain number of employees to enter time against any on-going project. In this scenario, you can create a timesheet template with project entry options and assign it to those employees. Such templates make the process of time capture quicker and more consistent.

Streamlined Validation

Digital timesheets allow supervisors to set the validation rules for timesheet submission. This way, if someone hasn’t filled their timesheet properly, it’ll flag the issue. On top of that, if someone forgets to fill and submit their timesheets, they will automatically get a reminder message.

Eliminate Time Theft

Unlike paper timesheets that employees could tamper with easily, digital timesheets are securely stored in the cloud. This eliminates the likelihood of employees tampering with the data.

Organizations can leverage time tracking software with features such as a digital fingerprint scanner and face recognition time clock to prevent buddy punching and time theft.

Reporting Functionality

Time tracking software helps generate real-time reports that cater to specific needs. It also offers valuable insights into resource utilization, time usage and financial metrics for data-driven decision-making.

Easy Accessibility and Security

Once misplaced or lost, paper timesheets can’t be retrieved. However, with time tracking software, the data is saved securely in the cloud and can be accessed whenever required, even remotely.

There are many time tracking software out there in the market that you can choose from as per your needs and budget. But the need of the hour is an AI-powered time tracking solution that can do all that we’ve discussed above.

screenshot of Replicon timesheet

Deltek | Replicon’s time tracking software is known for its 100% accurate time tracking capabilities and also has all the above-mentioned functionalities and features. It automates the process of timekeeping by capturing the accurate work time data from more than 100 apps, such as Jira, Slack, and Zoom. It then populates the timesheet accordingly to review and submit, freeing up employees from the hassle of manual time entry. Replicon’s intuitive dashboard provides employers and clients with a comprehensive view of their project hours and usage of time. Also, it helps gain real-time visibility into business-critical metrics.

Bottom Line

Timesheets help employers keep track of employee work hours, how they spend their time, and details of projects where they’re spending time. Filling timesheets clearly and concisely is important to process payroll for hourly workers, bill clients accurately, and measure productivity.

Though spreadsheets have been the most popular mode of tracking time, with the advent of technology, time-tracking software has taken the timekeeping process to the next level.

Entering inaccurate data and relying on manual processes can lead to data loss, revenue leakage, compliance issues, and even employee disputes. That’s why most organizations are pivoting to digital timesheets. These automate the data capture process and eliminate the likelihood of errors and discrepancies.

Among several digital solutions available today, Deltek | Replicon’s time tracking software powered by ZeroTime™ helps employers capture employee work activities. Without requiring much human intervention, it streamlines the timekeeping process like no other platform.

  • Replicon Facebook
  • Replicon Twitter
  • Replicon LinkedIn
  • Replicon pintrest
Sonika Malviya


Sonika Malviya


Sonika is a Marketing Communications Specialist at Deltek | Replicon, specializing in covering topics related to time tracking and workforce management software. With her in-depth knowledge of these topics, she translates technical details into understandable and relatable content to empower businesses to optimize their productivity, improve their workflows, and achieve greater success in managing their time. Beyond her professional role, Sonika finds solace and inspiration in her travels. She also practices meditation and has a flair for culinary experimentation, always eager to try her hand at cooking new cuisines.


Automate your Scheduling with Replicon's AI-Powered Workforce Management Platform

scroll top