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Allan is the cofounder of LessTimeSpent, loves his family more than breathing and builds weird lamps for fun.

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Using Excel for Time Tracking is a Bad Idea

Written by on Dec 8
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When you’re working on multiple projects at once, a timesheet is necessary. It will help you see how you’re spending your time and keep track of your billable hours.

Creating a timesheet in Excel or Google Docs:

Creating a timesheet shouldn’t be a task in itself. It should be quick, accurate, and something you can keep up with. While there are time-tracking apps out there (like LessTimeSpent.com you may want to start with a simple Excel or Google Docs spreadsheet.

Setting up your template:

Create a new spreadsheet and label it with your name and the dates that it covers. (Usually an entire month.) Feel free to add more information, such as a client’s name, if you are creating separate timesheets per client. Add a line for each week of that period. Within each line, create a column for “Project” and the date of each day of the week you plan to work (usually Monday-Friday, unless you are a work-a-holic.) Under the “Project” column, list out all of the projects you want to track for that week, using one line per project. On the line below your last project, add a line for “Totals” (for your time totals.)

When you’re done, you should have a bunch of blank cells under each date and on the “Total” line. This is where you will add your time.

Filling out your spreadsheet timesheet:

  • Fill out your timesheet at the end of each day, or even throughout the day as you switch tasks.
  • Enter in your hours per project on each day you worked.

Pro tips!

  • Use the time format HH:MM:SS to track your time down to the second, instead of just rounding up (or down) to the nearest hour. This will keep the most accurate count of your time and will ensure that you aren’t billing for less (or more) hours than you actually worked.
  • Use the “Sum” function on Excel or Google Docs to automatically total your hours on each line.
  • Use the “Conditional Formatting” function to highlight any totals that are more or less than what you want to work. + For example, use it to highlight project totals to make sure you’re not exceeding the agreed upon billable hours. Or maybe your goal is to work 40 hours a week, so you want to highlight any weekly totals that are less than 40:00:00.

If you’re not a fan of spreadsheets, check out software built specifically for timetracking like LessTimeSpent.com. LessTimeSpent lets you track multiple projects and convert those timesheets into invoices. It even has a built-in stopwatch to track when you start and stop on projects.

Here’s an excel time tracking template.