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Recording Your Time


Tim Bryce

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I have been teaching Project Management for a long time now. Actually it's not very complicated as the principles have long been established. Every now and then though a hack comes along with some new harebrained scheme related to Project Management, usually involving some pseudo-intellectual formula for calculating project estimates and schedules. In reality, there is no hocus-pocus in Project Management, the mechanics are relatively simple to perform, but to me, it is the human dynamics involved which makes it most interesting. As I explain it, Project Management is not about filling out forms or technology, it's about getting people to complete project tasks on time and within budget. It's all about people. I don't care if you have the most sophisticated software to assist you, unless you can motivate and instruct people properly, you're not going to be completing any project any time soon.

In the past you have heard me talk about managing from the bottom-up; that it is important to get people to participate in the planning process, thereby stimulating their interest and gaining their commitment to project tasks. As part of this, it is necessary to report on their project activities on a routine basis and update estimates and schedules accordingly. This is normally done by recording your time on a daily basis using either an electronic time screen or paper form; for samples, see:

Time Distribution Worksheet
(second example)

The time report should include places to record time spent on project assignments as well as the time spent on indirect activities such as meetings, reading, personal time, etc. They should then be reviewed and approved by the person's manager to make sure time was reported accurately and to calculate project and departmental time summaries.

Interestingly, I run into people who openly resist reporting their time, particularly those in the Information Technology field such as programmers. At first, I was puzzled by their resistance as I saw this as a rather simple and integral part of managing projects. Over time I discovered that the better people openly welcomed time reporting while others shunned it. Some were rather belligerent and resisted any attempts to report the use of their time. Regardless of how patiently I tried to explain it to them, they simply wanted no part of it. They countered they were "professionals" and as such, it was beneath their dignity to record their time. I explained that other "professionals" such as attorneys, accountants, and contractors kept track of their time; why not them? As I discovered later, the reason for their refusal was they simply didn't want people to know what they were doing and were resisting accountability. I find such thinking as a bit mind boggling. For this kind of person, I found you cannot simply request they fill out a time report, you have to demand it, or even threaten them with their job.

As I said, the better workers have no trouble recording their use of time. In fact, they believe it will show management how industrious they really are. And maybe that's what scares the hell out of those who resist it; that they will be exposed for what they are: labour-fakers.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.  For a listing of Tim's Pet Peeves, click HERE.

About the Author

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the field. He can be reached at

Copyright 2008 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-02-09 17:56:16 in Employee Articles

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