How Cantilever uses Harvest for Time Tracking

A guide on how to use Harvest for project estimation, individual time tracking, and continuous improvement.


Everyone is required to use Cantilever’s Harvest Workspace/Org for time tracking when working on Cantilever work. This document describes how we’ve set things up (and why) and how to use Cantilever’s Harvest for optimal results.

We know that time tracking gets a bad rap—and for good reason. It’s often executed poorly, is frustrating to manage alongside doing real work, and doesn’t typically provide much value to the individual who is responsible for tracking time. Our intent is to implement a better approach at Cantilever so that it can feel more useful, efficient, and even easy.

An effective time-tracking practice creates reliable data on how people are spending time at work. This data is what allows individuals, managers, and leadership to make better decisions on day-to-day things like task/project estimation and staffing/assignments as well as big-picture decisions like how much to charge clients and what services to offer.

At Cantilever, we need time-tracking data so that we can accurately bill clients for hourly-based services, improve our resource planning and staffing, and enable individuals and managers to more easily identify and resolve the potential for burnout.


Getting Started with Harvest
Harvest Setup: Common Projects and Tasks
Asana <> Harvest Integration
Submitting a Harvest Timesheet

General Practices

Time is tracked in real-time as you are working, not estimated after the fact.

Yes, we know it’s unrealistic to expect that you’ll never forget to start or stop a timer, but the idea is that live/active time tracking should be the norm whenever reasonable. After doing this for many years, we’ve just seen the huge disparity that often exists between perception and reality when it comes to time estimation, even at the end of the workday.

If you feel strongly that Harvest apps are not the best way for you to track your time, these are some suitable alternatives: a stopwatch, other time-tracking software (like Toggl), or a timebox productivity methodology with a timer (i.e. Pomodoro method).

At the end of every workday, make sure your timesheet is up-to-date.

  • Make sure all tasks have a relevant note/description
  • Make sure all work is categorized in the correct Project and Task
  • Raise any questions to your team lead/PM if you’re unsure how to categorize something

At the end of your work week submit a timesheet

  • Timesheets are submitted in Harvest on Friday or Sunday (at the end of your work week).

Answers to Common Questions

Why do we track our time?
  • Timesheets are a primary data source that we can use as a team to understand the accuracy of estimates to ensure the timely delivery of our work.
  • For Team Members and Contributors who bill hourly for their work, time tracking is how we ensure that billing accurately reflects time spent on work.
  • Timesheet data enables individuals and managers to more easily identify and resolve the potential for burnout.
Who needs to track their time?

Everyone at Cantilever is required to track their time for project work and non-project work—whether or not you are paid hourly for your work.

What other apps can I use to track time?

We provide a paid Harvest account for everyone who is required to submit timesheets for their work. If you prefer to use a time tracking tool that is not Harvest, you can do so as long as:

  • Time is tracked in real-time using a "start" and "stop" functionality to a fidelity ≥ 5 mins. (Track time in real-time but if you need to make a correction, round to an even 5-min increment)
  • Time is tracked against tasks, not time on a clock/calendar (e.g. "X Task - 1/1/21 for 1.25 hrs" as opposed to "1/1/21 10:00am – 10:30am X Task; 10:30am – 11:30am X Task")
  • Tasks can have a custom description to specify the Asana Project or Task.
  • Time can be exported in an Excel/CSV format for easy data collation and audits
  • It's easy to distinguish between personal (non-billable) time and work (billable) time.
  • You import your timesheet data into Harvest timesheets on a daily basis.
Toggl has good device/OS compatibility and meets all the requirements above.
Why do we submit timesheets for review in Harvest?
  • To make sure that there are no glaring errors in our time-tracking (we’re all only human!)
  • To briefly reflect on where our energy was spent in the past week and to memorialize a snapshot of the time spent to inform how we make decisions in the future.