Have you ever met someone who enjoys filling out their timesheet? At Allocate, we are well aware that timesheets can be valuable for billing, providing project insights, and improving organizational efficiency, but not everyone sees them that way.
In fact, we have yet to meet someone who likes the act of logging time. Most people see timesheets as a chore, and, truth be told, accurately recording your time is difficult. So if you're one of them, know that you're not alone. Also know that it's not your fault - though technology has helped us in many ways, it has only made the problem of time logging more challenging.
Read on to learn a few reasons why logging time is so hard.
Most professionals work on many projects at once
It’s rare for a professional to work on only one project. Most juggle multiple clients, proposals, and reports. This means that tracking time at the end of the day or week is a game of reconstructing how your day went. Remembering everything you did is hard, much less remembering how long each task lasted. This is especially true of smaller tasks that only take a few minutes.. Knowing and remembering all those small changes between projects is challenging, even for someone with a great memory.
Switching between tasks, and many of them, can make time tracking a nightmare, since it requires breaking the day into smaller and smaller chunks. In fact, lawyers track time in 6-minute intervals (1/10 of an hour). While the goal is accuracy, tracking time this way ends up in a frustrating game of guess-and-check, with professionals often resorting to finagling the numbers until they add up to a 40+ hour workweek.
Employees are distracted, and for good reason
Diligently logging time when you’re bouncing back and forth between many things is nearly impossible. Studies have found that employees only spend around 45% of their time on primary job duties. The other 55% is spent answering calls, responding to emails, taking meetings, and conducting various administrative tasks. Each of those calls and meetings probably corresponds to a client, but with dozens of calls and hundreds of emails over the course of a day, tracking the time these distractions take just isn’t feasible with current tools.
If an employee answers an email about Project A, calls a vendor about Project B, and then updates a task in a project management system for Project C, the two minutes worth of time on each task are hardly worth tracking. However, over the course of a day, task switching takes a cumulative impact. With many employers requiring timesheets every week or two weeks, it’s unlikely you’ll remember how much time you spent drafting an email you sent a week and a half ago. These modern struggles make perfect time logging nearly impossible for most professionals.
Timers and calendars don’t work
One possible solution is a timer. However, timers stop being useful when you are unexpectedly interrupted by an impromptu meeting, a call, an email, or a Slack message. Always remembering to stop a timer at each disruption is a challenging task. As a result, time tracking gets more difficult with every interruption.
Other companies try mandating detailed calendar entries in order to track time usage. However, anyone who has had a meeting run long or an unscheduled, urgent, task knows how quickly a well-calendared day can get derailed. In the end, using a timer or detailed daily agendas ends up costing employees time on frustrating and inaccurate timesheet administration.
Computer activity logs aren't practical
With the rise of the digital office, time tracking should have gotten a lot easier. Now, we have detailed logs of all the programs, pages, and emails our computers have open and when they opened them. Still, using your computer activity logs to fill out your timesheet is a non-starter. The logs are far too detailed to be useful in most cases, and they would take hours to comb through in order to compile a timesheet.
Real-time, AI - powered time tracking
At Allocate, we aim to solve the hard problem of time logging using AI-powered, real-time time tracking. Remembering what you did and for how long is a painful task. By passively collecting information about how people work and intelligently processing that data, we free people to focus on their projects, and management can gain valuable insights into how their company is running day-to-day. Of course, everyone is still able to review and verify their timesheet - we just make it a whole lot easier to get there.
This makes everyone happier. People don’t spend as much time on time keeping and don’t have to stress about remembering every last thing or frantically taking notes throughout the day. Management, meanwhile, is able to use this better data to run a better business. Forecasting, project management, and resourcing decisions are being made with good data, which is critical to the success and culture of a service based company. The result is a win-win!
Hopefully this article has given you some sympathy for those timesheet rebels out there who can’t seem to get theirs filled in on time. Ultimately, it’s not really their fault. Time tracking is incredibly hard given how fragmented our working lives are. Distractions, busy schedules, and a whole lot more are to blame. If you ever want to chat time keeping strategies, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org .