Are you currently using Excel or Google Sheets to track everyone’s vacations? This is pretty useful for keeping a record, but spreadsheets don’t help you in other important ways:

  • They don’t allow you to process leave requests.

  • They don’t automatically update when someone takes leave.

  • They don’t easily integrate with calendars or other tools.

Instead, you’ll benefit more from using a proper vacation tracker — an app that lets you see who’s on vacation, lets you manage your team’s PTO requests, lets you prevent clashes, and lets you track everyone’s time off for the whole year. All in one place.

We’re going to deep-dive into the benefits of a vacation tracker here, and show how our app, Timetastic, helps you track and manage PTO with zero effort.

If you’d like to try how it works, start your free one-month trial here.

Benefit 1: You can manage all your PTO requests in one place

With a vacation tracker like Timetastic, you get an easy way for the whole team to submit new vacation requests. You can do this directly from your Wallchart — the online calendar where everyone sees upcoming annual leave.

Simply drag across the dates you want, fill in some details about your leave, and click submit:

Timetastic Wallchart: Easily book time off

You can submit PTO or sick leave requests through your web browser or through the Timetastic mobile app — available for both iOS and Android devices:

Team members can easily submit leave requests and holiday requests from their phone or desktop.

Every vacation request gets sent to the manager who needs to review it. This person can then approve or decline the time off with just one click or tap. If you’re a manager, you can also get these requests routed to your email, Slack, or Microsoft Teams.

Sophie Jones has requested time off: Mon 16th August through Fri 20th August

All of the approved requests get logged in the system, meaning Timetastic has a full record of everyone’s PTO and sickness.

And this brings us onto the second benefit of using a proper vacation tracker:

Benefit 2: You can immediately see who’s in and who’s out

The Wallchart gives you a full view of who’s at work and who’s away:

This calendar view shows you every type of leave, from paid time off to sickness, sabbaticals, and compassionate leave. You can also see when someone’s away on a training course. In fact, you have full control over the various leave types you want to add to the system, meaning you can tweak it to match your own company policy.

Also, Timetastic can sync all this information to your daily working calendar — Outlook, Google Calendar, iCal — anything that works with an iCal or WebCal feed:

What you decide to feed into your work calendar is totally up to you. You can choose to just sync your own vacation, or the vacation of a certain colleague or certain departments.

Note: You can also get Absence Summaries sent directly to you, meaning you don’t have to check any calendars to see who’s got time off coming up.

Benefit 3: You can automatically track and update PTO balances

There are a number of ways you can keep tabs on everyone’s PTO balances when you use a vacation tracker like Timetastic.

Firstly, your Wallchart shows you how much annual leave each person has available for the rest of the year. The number next to their profile picture shows their remaining allowance:

Secondly, you can also click on someone’s individual profile and check out how much leave they’ve already used (as well as why/when) and how much leave they have remaining.

Thirdly, you can see trends in annual leave and overall balances in your Absence Insights:

This page contains the PTO trends for your entire department, including what type of leave was most popular within the team and when employees decided to take their time off.

Benefit 4: You always have enough staff at the right times

Sometimes you’ll need to be strict about how many people (and which people) have time off at the same time. If there’s a big project to get over the line or it’s a particularly busy time of year, you'll need to make sure you have enough hands to the pump.

But this is easier said than done if you don’t have a vacation tracker. You need to cross-reference every leave request with the vacation calendar, and make sure nothing gets lost or confused in the process. And if someone wants to change their plans, it’s extra work.

With Timetastic, we make it easy for you to see (a) when people’s vacation requests overlap, and (b) which person sent their request first. This means you can run a fair “first come, first serve” policy, without any risk of making costly mistakes.

You can also keep staffing levels right by setting maximum absent levels and locking specific dates in the calendar.

How does this work?

  • When you lock dates, they can’t be requested as vacation days. Timetastic lets you do this for the whole organization, specific departments, and for individuals. We don’t recommend you do this frequently because it can place too many limits on people’s freedom, but it works nicely when you need it for certain dates.

  • When you set maximum absent levels, you say how many people can be off on a certain day. You can do this for departments or for the whole company. Once enough people have had PTO approved for that day (or those days), Timetastic won’t allow anyone else to submit a new leave request.

If you have these two things in place, you can even let Timetastic approve or decline vacation requests automatically — meaning you don’t even need to review them. This is possible because the system knows what you need, i.e. your staffing levels and when taking vacations isn’t possible for the team.

Bonus benefit: Prevent burnout and see who needs a break

Timetastic gives you something called a Burnout Board.

By keeping an eye on your Burnout Board, you can see who’s really in need of a vacation. You can then send them a quick note or an email/letter reminding them to take their annual leave.

You can also get the “burnout risks” info sent to you every quarter, so you’re in the loop about who needs to take a break.

What’s next? Try Timetastic for free for a month

Timetastic is an easy-to-use app that allows you to manage and track your team’s PTO with zero effort. It’s way better than using a spreadsheet because you can:

  • Keep track of everyone’s vacation automatically, in real-time.

  • See how much PTO people have left at a glance.

  • Approve or decline annual leave requests with a click.

  • Make sure you don’t have too many staff away at the same time.

  • Prevent burnout and encourage vacation when people need it.

Try Timetastic with a free one-month trial today.