Let’s imagine for a second Eddie Murphy screaming out loud “Timesheeets!!” like he did during his famous stand-up comedy show, Delirious. Here’s a video for reference:
Now replace the image of Eddie with your boss or manager.
You would instantly lose it and get into fight-or-flight mode.
To get a grip of the situation, you would clear up your desk, close a browser tab here and there, then open up your inbox for no reason only to ask yourself:
Why should I track time in the first place?
The time tracking myth
The general premise is that time tracking is tied up to productivity, which measures how efficient someone is at doing their job. Based on this input, managers cut costs and improve operations with a clear business objective in mind: to increase profits. Time is money after all. As Harvard Business Review points out, the US economy is losing $7.4 billion a day, the result of 50 million untracked work hours.
Nothing wrong with this finding, but let’s be honest: it’s easy to clock-in 8 hours and get little to nothing done. In fact, a new research from UK found out that we’re productive at work for only 2 hours and 53 minutes. The rest of the time is filled up with distracting activities like: browsing social media, reading news, and talking outside work activities with colleagues – to name the top three. This is a direct result of focusing on quantity instead of quality. It tricks us into thinking that we can stay on top of our work by just showing up and filling in timesheets.
Notice something? Yes, time tracking is in fact psychologically linked to productivity. It abides to the Parkinson’s law, which states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. Or to put it simply, if you give someone a week to complete a 4-hour task, it will take them a week. That’s because, in general, people estimate they need more time to prepare for a task. Even if they finish it faster, perfection sets in, and they’ll continue to fine-tune their work until the last moment (I’m guilty here too).
Sadly enough, some managers still use the 40-hour week as a benchmark for quality work. This doesn’t mean that time tracking can’t be useful. Through it, managers can accurately estimate task budgets and deadlines by monitoring how long they take on average. They can also become more transparent towards their customers and inform them in real time about the project progress.
This is all great, but what about you – the employee? Let’s see what makes it so hard to track time.
Why is it so hard to track time when working
There are numerous reasons for this.
You might fear being supervised to the minute – either by your boss or a software that takes random screenshots of your desktop – and regard it as a useless, administrative task. The problem is somewhere up at the management level, you say to yourself, who wants to quantify everything to cut costs. To them, these are only numbers, just like stationery and office furniture. But down there, on the first line, you’re supposed to meet deadline after deadline to add theseContinue reading