Juan Tamayo

Chief Technology Officer


San Diego, California

Creating Proper Time Records

Below is the DEFINITIVE GUIDE to creating good time records for your work at DesignStudio in order to help ensure that our clients will always understand the value of the work we do for them.

Time | It’s What We Sell

As an agency, we are selling our expertise, but, in the form of units of time. We package our time and expertise in all sorts of ways but at the end of the day, everything breaks down into either billable or unbilled hours.

Creating good time records is a quick and easy process but it does require care, thoughtfulness, and attentiveness to detail.

It is critically important to understand that these time records are the foundation of our billing to clients. They are also used for measuring profits or losses on every single project or agency retainer. In most cases, they are also used for evaluating employee performance and efficiency. Therefore, these times records must be done correctly.

The most important part of any time record entered into ActiveCollab is making sure that the value of the time spent is clear. If clients do not understand the value of what we are doing for them, then we cannot expect to keep those clients for long. The guidelines in this document will help all staff and DS Network freelancers to create good time records which build “layers of trust” with our clients day after day.

We provide full transparency to our clients with our time records. Many agencies do not do this or do not do it well. So our diligence and transparency with these records is actually one of our strongest selling points to new prospective clients.

Key Points About Time Records

  • Our minimum billing increment is 15 minutes (examples below)
    • Tasks that take 5 or 10 minutes are billed as .25 hours
    • Tasks that take 20 or 25 minutes are billed as .5 hours
    • A task that takes exactly 68 minutes would be 1.25 hours
  • An 8 hour workday should usually produce 4 to 5 time records
    • Try to avoid creating time records longer than 3 hours
    • Break your time into smaller chunks when appropriate
  • The ideal length for a time record description is 20 to 30 words
    • All time records must be written in layman’s terms
    • Understand how to write good value statements

Understanding Value Statements

The key to keeping clients happy is making sure that they understand the value of the work we do for them. Below is a specific example the right way and the wrong way to do time records so that you will know how to help us to keep clients happy.

Lazy Time Records Proper Time Records
8 Hours Worked on website. 2.5 Hours Worked on coding the global header of the new website.
2 Hours Worked on coding the drop down menus for the primary navbar of the new website.
1.5 Hours Testing of new header code and menu code in all major browsers.
1 Hour Bug fixes and code tweaks to improve UX for new header. Submitted header for internal reviews before showing client.

Let’s say in the example above, we are billing this client even our lowest possible rate, which is $60 per hour. This means that 8 hours of work will be at least $480 in billable hours to the client. If you were that client, which column above would you rather see?

It usually takes around 10 extra minutes to break a 8 hour workday into 4 or 5 individual time records – each with a clearly understandable value statement. Creating one lazily made time record with no clear value statement may save time but it costs the company enormously later.

Best Practices for Good Time Records

    It is absolutely critical to create time records on the same day that the work is performed. We use these time records to track our internal job costs for every project. So delays in getting your time records into the system will cause serious problems for our Project Managers with job costing. Best Practice: Use the AC Timer.
    We all learned the basics of proper grammar in grade school. This is where you use those skills. These time records are important business communications that reflect on our professional reputation.
    Be sure that everything is spelled correctly. Proper nouns must always start with capital letters. It can create great embarrassment for our Project Managers when they have to present sloppy time records.
    Understand the difference between “billable” and “unbilled” work in order to mark each time record accordingly. If you have any questions about whether or not the work should be marked as billed or unbilled, please bring it to a manager right away.
    Every time record that is put into ActiveCollab must have a clearly understandable value statement. When writing these records, pretend you are the client reading the record and paying for that time. Does the description of your work seem like it would be worth the money?

Introduction to ActiveCollab

To keep track of all time records for the business, we use powerful but easy-to-use Project Management software called ActiveCollab.

ActiveCollab is accessible through our website at: