Manual Timesheets: Why It’s High Time to Ditch It

Author: Madalina Roman

Once upon a time, in a bustling office, a stack of manual timesheets seemed to grow taller with each passing day.

The employees would fill them out, spending time submitting their timesheets weekly.

Little did they know, this mountain of paperwork was not just a chore but a silent drain on their productivity and the company’s resources.

Are you looking for an effortless, smart and secure time tracking software to ditch manual work?

The tale of manual time tracking is a common one, and it’s fraught with hidden costs that can quietly reduce a business’s bottom line.

The shift to a digital time entry system emerges as a beacon of progress, offering a way to streamline operations, improve productivity, reduce environmental impact, and enhance the workplace experience.

TIP: If you track work time occasionally, use our free Hours Calculator.

What are manual timesheets?

Manual timesheets involve manually tracking time, whether on paper or digital platforms like Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. Users fill out a new timesheet template per pay period, detailing total hours worked, overtime hours, billable time, vacation time, lunch breaks, and more.

A standard employee timesheet template usually includes columns for details such as employee name, date, start and end times, breaks, and total hours worked. It may also include sections for overtime hours, project or task descriptions, and any notes.

manual timesheet

Some billable hours timesheet templates incorporate features hourly rates, and specific pay periods.

Widely utilized by independent contractors and hourly employees, it’s also adopted by team members with regular hours to monitor task-specific time allocation.

Employees typically complete their timesheets daily, submitting them to a supervisor on a weekly or monthly basis.


manual timesheets definition

The top drawbacks of manual timesheets

The hidden costs of manual time tracking

Businesses often overlook the substantial financial drain that manual time tracking imposes. While the upfront costs of paper timesheets and manual entry may seem minimal, the long-term implications are far-reaching.

Inefficiencies in timesheet data not only lead to potential human error, but they are also time-consuming for employees who could spend their time on more revenue-generating activities.

Moreover, the lack of real-time data can result in delayed project billing, affecting cash flow and the company’s overall financial health.

Furthermore, manual time tracking systems lack the sophistication to provide insightful analytics that can drive business decisions. Without the ability to easily analyze labor costs, overtime hours, and productivity, businesses miss out on opportunities to optimize their operations.

Implementing automated solutions, such as time tracking software, can eliminate these hidden costs (and the need to send timesheet reminders). By transitioning to a digital system, companies can benefit from accurate and timely insights while reducing the administrative burden associated with manual timesheets and time reporting.

manual timesheets

The risks of human error in paper-based systems

Manual timesheets are fraught with the potential for human error, which can lead to significant issues for both employees and employers. Mistakes in data entry, illegible handwriting, and lost documents are just the tip of the iceberg. Consider the following points:

  1. Inaccurate time tracking can result in employees being overpaid or underpaid, affecting morale and financial stability.
  2. Errors in data entry may lead to incorrect payroll processing, requiring additional time and resources to rectify.
  3. Compliance risks and legal issues arise when inaccuracies in record-keeping lead to violations of labor laws and regulations.

Moreover, the reliance on paper-based systems can significantly hamper productivity. Employees and managers spend valuable time filling out, processing, and correcting timesheets, which diverts attention from core business activities. The consequences of such inefficiencies are multifold:

  1. Delayed project timelines due to time spent on administrative tasks rather than on project work.
  2. Increased operational costs as a result of additional hours required to manage and correct employee timesheet errors.
  3. Reduced competitive edge when resources are allocated to manual processes instead of important tasks like innovation and growth initiatives.
human error in manual timekeeping methods

Manual timesheets hinder productivity and growth

How many hours per week or month do you and your employees spend manually filling in a daily timesheet template?

How much time is spent by a supervisor to sum up the total hours worked and hourly rate of each employee to calculate workforce costs?

The reliance on manual timesheets can significantly impede the efficiency of an organization’s workforce. Employees tasked with filling out time cards or sheets are often diverted from their core work responsibilities, decreasing productive time. The same applies when a supervisor calculates employees’ work time manually.

This process not only consumes valuable work hours that could be better spent on achieving business goals but also introduces a risk of human error, which can result in inaccurate calculations of total work hours and total pay and compromise the integrity of payroll and project costing.

Setbacks in project management and resource allocation

Manual timesheets can lead to substantial setbacks in project management and resource allocation. The following points illustrate how:

  1. Manual entry demands constant monitoring and correction, which can delay project timelines.
  2. Without real-time data, managers struggle to make informed decisions about resource distribution, which makes it difficult to assign tasks and plan employee work.
  3. The lack of automation in tracking overtime hours can lead to budget overruns and employee burnout.

Furthermore, manual timesheets can stifle business growth by limiting the ability to scale efficiently. As the number of employees increases, so does the complexity and time required to manage and audit time records. This antiquated approach can lead to a bottleneck in administrative processes, preventing the business from responding swiftly to market changes or opportunities for expansion.

automation of timesheets

The advantages of switching to digital employee time tracking software

Embracing a digital timesheet app like Timeular offers a plethora of benefits that can significantly enhance the efficiency and accuracy of workforce management.


One of the most compelling advantages is time-saving. With automated time tracking solutions like Timeular, employees can track time in under 1 minute a day! It not only frees up valuable resources but also encourages employees to track their time regularly.

Improved accuracy of employee timesheet

The second advantage is the reduction of human error. Manual timesheets are prone to mistakes, leading to payroll discrepancies and a waste of administrative resources. Digital systems, on the other hand, ensure that time is tracked precisely, often with the ability to integrate with other digital tools for seamless workflow management.

Real-time insights and analytics

Another key benefit is the real-time visibility into employee hours and labor costs. With digital timekeeping, managers can access up-to-the-minute reports and analytics, enabling them to make informed decisions quickly.

This level of insight is crucial for managing project timelines, adjusting workloads, and improving overall productivity.

Additional features: automatic reminders and approval workflows

Moreover, digital timesheet solutions often have features like automatic reminders and approval workflows, which help maintain compliance and ensure all timesheets are submitted and processed on schedule.

Reduced administrative burden

Lastly, switching to a digital system can lead to a significant reduction in administrative burden. By automating the time tracking process, businesses can free up valuable time for their HR and accounting teams, allowing them to focus on more strategic tasks.

Streamlining payroll process with automated time tracking

Automating time tracking revolutionizes payroll processing, offering substantial time and effort savings for managing employee hours. This modern approach eliminates human errors in manual timesheet solutions, ensuring accurate and regulation-compliant payroll calculations.

The result is an efficient payroll department, freed from deciphering handwritten entries and cross-referencing work hours.

Automated time tracking not only enhances accuracy but also provides real-time data for business analytics and decision-making. Swift report generation empowers management to make informed decisions on staffing, overtime, and operational efficiency.

All in all, the switch to automation streamlines payroll, reduces administrative burden, and strategically enhances business success.

Enhancing team member satisfaction with modern timekeeping methods

Embracing advanced time sheet solutions can lead to a significant boost in employee morale and satisfaction. In contrast to manual timesheets, which can be time-consuming and prone to errors, modern systems offer a level of precision and ease that employees appreciate.

This shift not only reduces the frustration associated with tracking hours but also empowers each team member with autonomy over their time records. However, it is crucial to ensure that the introduction of new technology does not overwhelm staff; a smooth transition with adequate training is essential to reap the benefits without the drawbacks.

Moreover, contemporary timekeeping methods often come with features that promote a better work-life balance, such as remote clock-ins and flexible scheduling. These functionalities can lead to a more satisfied workforce, as employees feel their time is valued and respected.

How to move from manual to automated time tracking?

To ensure a smooth transition from a manual timesheet solution to an automated work hours tracker, consider the following checklist:

  • Assess your company’s specific needs
  • Choose a simple, user-friendly time clock app like Timeular – it’s a must to ensure employee buy-in!
  • Provide thorough training for your staff and establish clear policies for time tracking. Yes, the Timeular team provides training for your team on effective time management and time tracking.

By following these steps, your organization can maximize the benefits of digital timekeeping and maintain a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced business environment.

Time tracking and leave management redefined: effortless, smart, secure

Effortless tracking methods, including physical time tracker

Timeular offers effortless time tracking methods to enhance accuracy and efficiency:

  • Automatic time tracking captures app, website, and document usage, ensuring 100% control and GDPR compliance.
  • The 8-sided physical time tracker adds a unique touch, allowing users to seamlessly track time of 1,000 tasks by simply switching the side of the cube.
  • The Quicktrack feature allows you to use keyboard shortcuts to track time from any app, providing flexibility and convenience.
  • Leave and work hours tracking, including paid leave and sick leave, is streamlined with one-click requests and automatic calculation of overtime.
  • Billable time tracking is simple, enabling users to differentiate between non-billable and billable hours with a click.
  • Flexible work hours settings accommodate various contracts, ensuring adaptability to different work arrangements.
  • The mobile apps for iOS and Android extend tracking convenience on the go, providing versatile and user-friendly tracking on mobile devices.
  • Timeular can be used both as a Mac time tracker and a Windows time tracking app.

Smart time savers

Timeular’s smart features free up time for more important tasks:

  • Availability and leave planning become seamless, aiding project delivery based on team members’ schedules.
  • Personalized productivity insights offer a deeper understanding of time spent on productive tasks.
  • Project budget tracking alerts ensure efficient project management by identifying potential overages in real-time.
  • Automated time entry creation and reminders contribute to consistent and accurate time tracking, enhancing overall productivity.

Privacy and security at the core

Ensuring 360° privacy for both companies and employees, Timeular prioritizes user trust. Fully GDPR compliant, the platform protects user data and privacy rights.

Anti-surveillance measures, such as a 24-hour delay for time entries to appear on managers’ screens, promote honest time tracking without feeling monitored.

Seamless integration with your payroll system and more

Timeular seamlessly integrates with over 3,000 apps, offering flexibility and versatility in time tracking. Integration with popular tools like Jira, Toggl, Harvest, and Zapier provides users with a comprehensive time management experience.

The platform also offers a public API with webhooks, allowing users to create custom integrations.

Swap your manual timsheets with automated time tracking today

Seamless transition from manual to digital timekeeping

Embracing digital timekeeping using tools like Timeular can significantly boost productivity and accuracy in tracking employee work hours. Selecting a suitable solution involves evaluating factors such as user-friendliness and integration capabilities.

A comparison may reveal that manual timesheets incur ongoing labor costs and errors, whereas digital systems, despite an initial setup fee, offer automation, and reduced errors.

Training and support are crucial, with digital systems often providing comprehensive tutorials and customer support, leading to more uniform time tracking. Communicating benefits like real-time tracking and error reduction is vital to gaining stakeholder buy-in.

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