How to do you log your hourly cost for a client's project?

There is alot of thread about the rates of charging clients on hourly basis. But i am in doubt of how you guys actually log/record the hours when you start work? Do you use a software or handwritten them on your log book? If there is, mind recommending some techniques of logging your work hours?

Sorry if this question sounds silly. I am asking this is because charging customer per hourly in Malaysia (where i am from) is still not doable, rather new. We had very fussy customers back here and they are more accustomed to fixed rates or flat fee.

I wondered if we are gonna implement per hourly rates here (in Malaysia) i bet we got to have solid proof of logged work hours to show them just to ensure that we dont cut corners.

I feel this method of charging had a lot of drawbacks as some unscrupulous freelancer may log times even when they are late, when they are doing nothing (unproductive hours), wasting time with other stuff or merely cutting corners. Just my 2 cents.

Please advice methods of logging your work hours for freelancers, i am very keen to have it done & applied here in my freelance firm.


I use Freshbooks to log hours. It includes a timer and timesheets for all staff. When I’m ready to bill I click a button and it creates an invoice that gets sent to the client. The client can log in and view hours as the project is progressing. They can log in and pay the invoice online if they want.

You can also do project estimates using Freshbooks, and client can accept the estimate online.

I still use a pen and paper :slight_smile:

I still use a pen and paper myself as well, but I’m old fashioned. :stuck_out_tongue:

Here is the timesheet I use

Basically, there are many options out there from manual to digital, but whatever you’d actually use is what you should go with. In regards to the “honesty” method … if someone isn’t trustworthy that the hours will be put down truthfully, I’m not sure I’d work with them. No matter what system you use, there are going to be ways that you can “fudge” the numbers. With digital stopwatches who is to say they don’t start it while they are playing a video game or while they are taking a nap. There is always going to be a level of trust that needs to be there with any working relationship.

This can be tough to start, but this is why I always have points during the project that I check in and see the progress so far, how much time they have put in, etc. For the most part you should have a general idea of how much time certain amount of work would take. If you estimate about 20 hours for some work and you check in with the freelancer halfway through the project, they should be at around 10 hours or so based on the work. If they are at 16 already, then you know you need to address some issues or problems that could be happening and (most likely) your responsibility to get them back in line. The more checkpoints and milestones you have in place, the quicker you can notice things starting to skew from your estimate.

Granted, you may not have time to be constantly checking with every freelancer on every project, but until you get a comfort level, it’s probably not a bad process to start with.

^ that’s a lot more comprehensive than mine - I just use a simple notepad - 50p from my local Tescos :slight_smile:

I am using TimeBiller from Fann Software as it has both a PDA and Desktop version that will sync together which comes in handy if you meet with clients at their business and are billing them for any services provided. The software provides time sheets and a variety of reports which are great for managing your time, rates, expenses etc. I have used it about 8 years.

I use a GTD (Getting Things Done) to-do list manager called MyLife Organized, It’s primarily a project management application but it has some functions for managing how much time you spend on projects. Though you could easily just download a timer application and hit the “start/stop” button each time you work. :slight_smile:

1. If you use only pen and paper to record your time, you risk losing your records.

  1. One of the primary reasons to use Freshbooks (or something similar) is the time it saves when invoicing – I do my billing monthly, and before Freshbooks, I used to spend one entire day creating invoices for 20 or so different projects, checking the math, etc. Now it takes me half an hour because Freshbooks creates invoices from my timesheet in a matter of seconds.

  2. Freshbooks keeps track of the various billing rates for different clients and/or projects.

  3. When I have other people working with me on a project, they can enter in their time also.

  4. Freshbooks also logs my expenses to charge the client if I have any, such as istockphoto.

  5. Clients can see how much time is being spent and on what as the project progresses, if you allow them this access.

  6. You can print reports of all your invoicing and payments.

  7. Time entries and accounting can be viewed/logged from any computer or iPhone.

thanks for the feedback…those tips are really enlightening.