Highly Effective Work Habits: Accurate Time Reporting
Many organizations out there these days force their salaried employees to track their time. And by this, I don’t mean clocking in and out. I mean actually recording how many hours you work towards each of your tasks. I’ve been working in the IT industry for over 13 years and this has been the “norm” for me. I very briefly had a job that started out with no time reporting for a couple of months. Then they instituted one for the entire department. It was really nice for a short while
Employers may have different motives for doing this. Some may want to see how many hours you are putting in total, perhaps to try and identify the “non producers”. Others may want to see if you are spending your time between your tasks effectively, to make sure you are not working on the wrong things. Still others may just want to see how many hours are going towards different phases of projects to improve future estimates. Most of the companies I have worked for fall into the latter. Whatever the motive, you need to accurately record your hours.
It is very difficult to wait until the end of the week to track your hours. Most of us can’t remember what we did yesterday, let alone several days ago Many employers who want this information will want it down to the half hour (or even 15 minutes for the really anal ones). So, one good strategy is to keep your time reporting tool open all day and make frequent updates to it. Check back every couple of hours and update it. For me, I not only have to record number of hours, but also the project number it goes with, the phase of the project, and a description of what I was working on. I find that if I wait a couple of days, my “buckets” are usually much larger with less detail because I can’t totally remember what I was working on. If you multi-task quite a bit, you’ll find that your recollection is even worse.
The worst thing that you can do is fake your hours. Eventually, this will catch up to you because if you are recording time against a task that you are not finishing, it is going to set off red flags with management. Where I work, we’ve got buckets of time for “personal”, “support”, “routine”, etc. However, dumping all of your time here is not a good idea either because management is going to want details of what you were working on instead of project work. If you can’t produce results or can’t prove you were working on something, you put your career at risk.
So, if you are required to record your time, make sure you do this honestly and as accurately as possible. It doesn’t take as much time as you think and is often a necessary “evil” to make your employer happy. In this economy, making your employer happy is always a good thing