The Pros and Cons of Tracking Time with Paper Timesheets

John Reeve | March 8th, 2023 | ,

When we first started our web design and development agency in 2000, we relied solely on paper timesheets to track our billable time. Today, paper timesheets can still provide a simple and low-tech way of tracking time, but they also have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the pros and cons of tracking time with paper timesheets, and where our experience with them has taken us to this day.


  1. Easy to use
    Paper timesheets are simple and straightforward to use, requiring little training or technical know-how. Simply put pencil to paper, and jot down the hours.
  2. Low cost
    Paper timesheets are a low-cost solution, as all you need is a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil.
  3. No technology requirements
    With paper timesheets, there is no need for time tracking software, making them accessible to everyone. No internet required.
  4. Free templates available
    There are a multitude of free paper timesheet templates available online, making it almost effortless to get started.
  5. Easy to customize
    Paper timesheets can be easily customized to suit your specific needs, allowing you to track different types of time or keep track of time spent on individual tasks.
  6. Physical record
    Paper timesheets provide a physical record of your work hours, which can be useful in situations where digital records may not be available.


  1. Prone to errors
    Paper timesheets are susceptible to errors, such as incorrect entries or illegible handwriting, which can make it difficult to track time accurately. Plus, filling out a timesheet at the end of the day will result in under-reported hours.
  2. Time-consuming
    Filling out paper timesheets can be time-consuming, especially if you have a large team or need to track a lot of projects.
  3. Easily lost or damaged
    Paper timesheets can be lost, damaged or destroyed, which can lead to lost data and incomplete records.
  4. No backups
    Paper timesheets can not be backed up, unless you scan or photocopy them. If the only copy does get lost or destroyed, there is no way to restore the data.
  5. Limited reporting
    Generating reports from paper timesheets can be challenging and time-consuming, particularly if you need to manually enter the data into spreadsheet software.
  6. Less than ideal for remote work
    Sharing paper timesheets with other team members can be difficult, especially if they are not in the same office. Reporting hours to a project manager is a cumbersome and time-consuming process.

In our experience, paper timesheets can be a good option for individuals that need a simple and cost-effective way to track time. However, most teams will require more advanced features, making online time tracking tools the better option.

Where did our agency end up? After a few years of using paper timesheets, we drew from our experience and pivoted into SaaS with the launch of our flagship time tracking software, Intervals. We have since helped countless companies make the transition from paper timesheets to time tracking software. If you would like to learn more about implementing time tracking at your company, here’s some more information on how to make it a painless transition.

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A collection of useful tips, tales and opinions based on decades of collective experience designing and developing web sites and web-based applications.

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Intervals is online time, task and project management software built by and for web designers, developers and creatives.
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John Reeve
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John Reeve

John is a co-founder, web designer and developer at Pelago. His blog posts are inspired by everyday encounters with designers, developers, creatives and small businesses in general. John is an avid reader and road cyclist.
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Jennifer Payne
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Jennifer Payne

Jennifer is the Director of Quality and Efficiency at Pelago. Her blog posts are based largely on her experience working with teams to improve harmony and productivity. Jennifer is a cat person.
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Michael Payne
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Michael Payne

Michael is a co-founder and product architect at Pelago. His contributions stem from experiences managing the development process behind web sites and web-based applications such as Intervals. Michael drives a 1990 Volkswagen Carat with a rebuilt 2.4 liter engine from GoWesty.
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