DATABASICS Time & Expense Blog

Tracking Time: A Waste of Time?

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You track time for billing, for bill-back and for fund accounting, right?  You track hours for hourly employees and leave for… everybody.  But what about salaried employee? All those things they do? 

While accounting may not need a separate activity break-out, the information can far out-weigh the cost of collection. First, this is not about expecting employees to self-incriminate.  You won’t get entries like “Tuesday, 3 hours, posted party pictures on Facebook”.  

What you will get is an increase in self-awareness. Reflecting upon how you spent your day can be enlightening. Psychologists tell us that both intense events and the most recent ones crowd out others in our recollections.  If we rely on our unexamined impressions, we will come away with a distorted view of how we spend our time.  For example, if we have to sit through an unusually frustrating meeting, we are likely to believe it lasted far longer than it did.

When asked, “How did your day go?” you might reply, “I sat in meetings all day” when in fact, there was only one meeting and it lasted two hours. You are not lying. You are speaking the emotional, if not temporal, truth. Quantifying how you spent your time through the time reporting process can help people be more objective and accurate. 

This means that they and their supervisors can better identify those factors that reduce effectiveness, for instance, in delivering projects on time. Why are projects chronically late? 

Among other reasons, people don’t work on them enough. You can’t blame this state of affairs entirely, or even mostly, on laziness. Rather, it’s that available time gets eroded by low visibility tasks and routine responsibilities.

The extent to which this goes on is usually vastly underestimated. “Resources” assigned to a project that is their “major responsibility” may find that more than half their day is consumed by other demands. If the expectation is that the “resource” will be working “pretty much full-time” on the project, the project will be late by at least 100%.

Think it might be worth having your people spend a few minutes every day thinking about how they spend their time?


Related Article: Do You Believe These 3 Myths About Time-Tracking Software?

 

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