What Is a Time Log?

A time log is a set of records containing timestamped employee activity in chronological order. Employees use time logs to organize their time at work, while management uses them for internal analysis and work optimization. Time logs can be kept on spreadsheets, timesheets, or within time tracking software.

How Do Employees Create Time Logs?

Employees typically create time logs at their own behest or as required per the company’s time tracking policy. 

Time logs include the different work or project-related activities the employee took part in, the exact date they worked on those tasks, and how much time it took to complete them.

There are many ways in which employees can keep a time log, but the most common ones are:

Employees are often free to mix and match between these methods, but this may depend on their needs, the type of work they’re performing, the tools they are required to use, and the methodology of the workplace.

How Does a Time Log Look Like?

Managers often advise employees to include as many details as possible in their time logs to get a full picture of how their employees spend their work hours. 

The way employees do this is by manually writing down their everyday work activity or using time tracking software that simplifies the ordeal without them having to sacrifice the time to sit down and revise the day’s activities.

In the process of manually outlining a time log, employees:

  • Format their time log by getting a lined piece of paper, a timesheet template, or constructing a digital spreadsheet.
  • Create individual columns for the date, activity description, activity duration, and level of priority for each activity (high, medium, and low).
  • Log their activities for the day and add the times when they start and finish an activity.
  • Include the time they’ve spent outside of work activities, such as coffee breaks or internet browsing.
  • Calculate the total number of hours they’ve spent on work activities and leisure activities (divide them into billable and non-billable hours)
  • Add (optional) notes in the work log about how they felt when working on a particular task (e.g., tired, bored, excited, energetic, etc).

As opposed to manual time logs, time tracking software with a time log feature offers employees a simpler and more detailed log with plenty of information. For example, employees can create time logs for each work activity they’ve spent time on during work hours. 

Moreover, employees can use the software to review and compare newer time logs with last week’s or last month’s time logs. This helps them improve their efficiency and productivity as they can finetune their schedules by using data from older time logs to achieve maximum results.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Time Log?

Time Management

When employees keep a time log, they can easily track how much time they are spending on different tasks, projects, or assignments. Employees who use a time tracking software with a time log feature can manage the time logs better and quicker and review and compare them with previous time logs.

Moreover, managers will receive the work logs from all employees and can make project management calculations regarding workloads, scheduling, improving the workflow, and increasing the efficiency of the workplace.

Accurate Billable Hours

Employees who keep a time log can easily distinguish billable from non-billable hours and list everything that occurred during the workday. A semi-formal guideline for adding data to the time log is to include every activity that took longer than 10 minutes to get an accurate representation of billable hours.

Improved Productivity

By taking a look at the time log data, managers can notice which employees are prone to distractions and spend their time less productively than other employees. This allows managers to take different steps to decrease the level of procrastination at work, such as additional training or changing the schedule, which often leads to an increase in employee productivity.

Are There Time Log Laws?

There are different time log laws throughout the world. For example, US companies are required by law to track employee work hours. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers have to keep records of the hours worked, wages paid, and other employment conditions at their company.

However, the law doesn’t state whether employees have to keep a time log, and there’s no rule as to the method they use to keep a work log or track their work hours. Employers are free to choose from handwritten time logs, digital time logs, or time tracking software. The company timekeeping policy also affects how this information is collected and recorded for timesheet compliance.