What is a Daily Timesheet?
A daily timesheet is how you would track your time as a freelancer working on client projects. It’s a document where you record how many hours you’ve worked by logging your start and end times for a particular date. You can then send this document through to your client so that they can pay you correctly according to your hourly rate.
It used to be the case that daily timesheets had to be printed, filled in on paper, and distributed by hand, which was often time-consuming and subject to human error. Similarly, some freelancers used to build their own daily timesheets that were missing key information, which affected their professional image and resulted in payment delays.
Nowadays, you can use a timesheet template, download it to your device, and email it through to your client with minimal effort. Ultimately, this streamlines and speeds up the payment process so you can deliver first-class customer service to your clients.
Note: Sign up now to get your free daily timesheet template that is just as credible as it is efficient, making the time-tracking process stress-free.
What to include in the Daily Timesheet
Employers have used paper timesheets to track the working time of multiple employees ever since billable hours were invented in the 1950s.
Today, timesheets are a legal requirement for employers. The Fair Labor Standards Act states that employers must record and pay employees for all worked hours.
Although freelancers are self-employed, your client will need to have a copy of your daily timesheet according to federal law. Any type of employee timesheet template is acceptable as long as it’s a complete and accurate record.
Here’s the information that you must cover in your hourly timesheet template.
State your name at the top, whether this is your full name or business name. This will help your client to immediately associate that individual document with your business when they are reviewing or filing timesheets in the future.
Alongside your name, include your client’s name at the top. This may be the name of the company or your specific contact. Either way, including the client’s name will help you to group your timesheets by client and organize them more effectively.
Tip: this is a daily timesheet template so it needs to have the date that you’re recording working time for.
Daily timesheets are more appropriate for those clients where you have an agreement to work on certain days each week or month. However, if you’re working with a client more often, or for a shorter amount of time each day, you could use a weekly timesheet, biweekly timesheet template, or even a monthly timesheet.
Underneath your name, your client’s name and the date, you would then have a table with line items that record each chunk of time and the work performed within each chunk of time.
Each line item should cover a brief description of the work undertaken, your start time, your end time, and the total duration.
If you provide a number of services, your first column could list the service before describing specific tasks. On the other hand, if your client is aware that you’re using a daily or weekly timesheet template to track worked hours when it comes to a particular project, you can leave out this column.
For example, if you’re a Virtual Assistant that offers several services, your table could look something like this:
You could even add an extra column at the end that lists the amount earned according to your hourly rate, based on the time worked. Having said that, this isn’t necessary as you can always include this information on your invoice.
To make it easier for your client to see how many billable hours you’ve worked on the date that you’re filling in your timesheet for, include a grand total at the bottom of your project timesheet template.
Again, you could even add an extra column with automatic calculations for the total amount they owe according to your hourly rate. This would serve as a quick reference for your client when they’re assessing your next invoice for that pay period and aligning the totals.
Traditionally when you work for an employer, they may require that you sign a declaration at the bottom of the timesheet to swear that the information on it is correct. Once you have signed, your employer will then “sign this off” so that your timesheet data can go to the payroll department for processing.
Some freelancers may choose to incorporate a declaration at the end of the invoice to this effect:
Given that building client relationships is a key focus for small businesses like freelancers, you could also include a private note to your client in this section.
This could be something as simple as: “Thanks so much for your business!” Alternatively, you could say something along the lines of: “I really enjoyed the work I completed!”
Either way, it doesn’t hurt to be polite and personal with your client. If you can evoke emotion from your client, you can build trust. And trust is the key to a long-lasting and prosperous relationship.
How to use a Daily Timesheet
Using a daily blank timesheet template is super straightforward even if you’ve never filled one out before. Just follow the below steps, which will also apply to weekly or monthly timesheet templates.
Agree on the work with the client
Before you can carry out a service for your client and fill in the timesheet to track work hours, you need to be on the same page.
Hopefully, you will have signed a Statement of Work contract (or similar) that outlines the project milestones, timeline, hourly rate, and payment terms. If you are working with a client on an ongoing basis, you can include a clause that says the following:
Agree on a time schedule
The beauty of freelancing for a living is that you can set your own work schedule. Even so, because you plan to work with your client on certain days, you need to agree on the number of days per week or month.
Likewise, your client may expect you to work according to a strict time schedule (such as eight hours per day). Are they happy for you to log overtime hours? Or is there a maximum amount of regular hours they’d like you to log per day or week?
This all needs to be discussed before you can get started with the project at hand.
Perform the work and track hours
Once the final details have been ironed out, you can get to work and fill in your blank timesheet templates on a daily basis.
There are two ways you can track time for your daily time sheet:
- Manually watch the clock and record the time yourself
- Use a time tracking app
Time tracking apps can be a lifesaver if you’re notorious for losing track of time while you’re working or forgetting to record your end time (we’ve all been there). Many of them allow you to click a button whenever you’re about to start work and then click the same button when you’re done.
Time tracking apps are also great because they automatically provide an analytics screen where you can see the details of your working time, which you can simply transfer to your daily time sheet.
Note: Bonsai has a free time tracking tool on the platform that integrates with your timesheet template!
Send the daily timesheet to your client
Once your timesheet has been completed with your total daily or weekly hours, you can save or download it depending on whether it’s an Excel timesheet template, made with Google sheets or Microsoft Word, or in PDF format… Or with Bonsai of course!
Proceed to attach it to an email and send it to your client as soon as you can so you can get paid promptly. (This may be with or instead of your invoice.)
Creating a Daily Timesheet is simple with Bonsai
If you’re searching for a freelancing time tracking tool that will make managing your hours a breeze, look no further than Bonsai. It has an all-in-one time tracker, free timesheet templates and a built-in billing system so you’re not scrambling around trying to use multiple apps to run your business.
One reputable app that has been specifically designed for online contract work is all you need!
Just set an hourly rate for your project, start tracking time, and send the bill to your client with one click. You can also set up handy automations, such as rounding up the time to make billing smoother, sending a timesheet report, and invoicing the completed time sheet.
Not to mention, you can centralize your timesheets. In other words, whether you’re tracking time as a team member or individual, you can keep all your project’s timesheets in the same place so it’s easy to assess the total hours to be billed and paid.
Daily Timesheet FAQs
Can I round time up or down with a daily timesheet?
According to the Department of Labor (DOL), employers can round time up or down within 15-minute increments.
Typically, employers apply the “7-minute rule” when assessing an employee timesheet template. This is where the time can be rounded up to the closest quarter-hour if multiple employees work an extra 1-7 minutes, or down to the closest quarter-hour if an employee works an extra 8-14 minutes.
Decide whether you want to adopt this rule or divide your hourly rate by 60 to get your rate per minute. You can then calculate how much you should be paid for every minute worked. Either way, communicate your preferred method to your client in the spirit of full transparency.
Should my daily timesheet state my lunch breaks?
Freelancers don’t have to state when they’re having a lunch break, or any kind of break, on a daily timesheet. All you have to do is list the time periods and regular hours or overtime hours worked.
Do I need to use a daily timesheet for all my clients?
Freelancers don’t necessarily need to use a daily timesheet as a way of tracking their time and billing clients. Merely list the services performed, a description of work, the total hours worked, and the final amount owed based on your hourly rate in an invoice.
Some freelance platforms have a built-in time tracking system for hourly projects, which can be useful.
That said, it’s completely up to you whether you decide to use a daily, weekly, bi weekly or monthly timesheet template (even if a client prefers that you do). The best thing about being a freelancer is that it’s your business, your rules!