Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Accounting for your Time

Okay, I have just switched internally from customer support to a desktop role.

When doing customer support my time was my own. As long as the customer were supported I could do what I liked (this meant on the 5pmto10pm shift I would study for 4.5hrs)

I have moved internally to desktop support so I have a list of tasks that need doing (no studying anymore). Suddenly I fele compelled to be accountable again. ie to record my time somehow, yet I don't feel that it is expected of me. I feel I am free to just do the things I feel important, without the need to continually account for my time.

Most of you know I came from an accounting firm. At this firm everyone was obliged to account for all their time, in 6minute blocks.

Am I just feeling anxiety from being released from the constraints of accounting for every six minutes? Is it normal in the positions that no accountability exists?

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I don't know how to answer your question, but I can tell you that six months ago I had an "Office Space" moment and decided to start f*cking-off.  I've been f*cking-off for six months; zero productivity.  And, guess what happned?  Managment loves me!  I've been promoted.  The reason?  I've been error free.  That's right; no bugs for six months.  Go figure!

zero defects
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Keeping a professional journal is always a good idea, I wish I'd done it the past ten years or so.

Brent
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I just keep my to-do list, and I also write down items I do as I do them and immediately check them off, just to have a log of what I did that day.

I know what I did, I can tell anyone else exactly what I did and on what day, if not what time, without having to rely on memory, but I don't have times attached to it. I think this should be good enough for you.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I can think of two uses for detailed time records: analyzing how time is used, and justifying hourly pay.  It sounds like the second is not an issue at the current workplace.

In my own experience, it is more important to have a weekly record of accomplishments, especially when having to give report or updating a resume.

Scot
Thursday, August 26, 2004

Actually, there's a third: Billing for services rendered to a client. If you were providing services to another department, or an external client, you need a benchmark for the charges you're asking for.

www.MarkTAW.com
Thursday, August 26, 2004

In fact, this is probably why her accounting firm does this time tracking.

www.MarkTAW.com
Thursday, August 26, 2004

Acccounting for your time every 6 minutes of so is definately overkill.  Imo, if you are not an accountant who is billing your services to various clients then you shouldn't need to track your time in the same manner as these folks seem to be required to do. Talk with your boss and see if some type of comprise can be worked out.

One Programmer's Opinion
Thursday, August 26, 2004

I second Brent's comment about a professional journal. At my current job, I've been using Blosxom to turn this into an internal blog.

I just write down what I've been doing whenever I get a bit stuck, or just need  a break to get stuff off my mental stack. Turns out this means I write for about 5 minutes every hour or so most days.

The bonus is I now have something to base my timesheet on, plus I can use it as my external memory when I need to check back on something.

Matt Freestone
Thursday, August 26, 2004

6 minutes sounds more nitpickily fine-grained than what it actually is - a tenth of an hour, which is sufficiently short to bill a reasonably meaty phone call without going overboard with minutes or seconds, scales well, and saves a column in the reports compared with a site where everything is recorded in quarter hour increments: 0.25, 0.5, 0.75 usw ...

So what would you rather type into your timesheets?

(Nowadays I just round up to hours, or days ..  it's bliss.)

trollop
Thursday, August 26, 2004



For my development work (contract and regular job), I create specific tasks using dotproject (dotproject.net) and then file logs against those tasks.

You click on a task, hit "New Log" and then hit "Start" and it starts a little Javascript timer.  When you're done/doing something else, you hit "Stop", fill in a comment and save it.

Then I can quickly find out/report what I've been doing the past N days.

KC
Thursday, August 26, 2004

How do people account for time when you're working on two projects?  For instance, sometimes I'm on a conference call while skeching a solution for another customer. 

Brian
Thursday, August 26, 2004

***GASP***

You do non-work tasks at WORK??!!

SUCH IS FORBIDDEN!!  DO NOT UTTER IT HERE LEST YE BE DRAWN AND QUARTERED ON THE METAPHORIC WHEEL.

muppet
Thursday, August 26, 2004

It's not forbidden, muppet, unless, like you, the offender is trying to make a career out of it.

get back to work!
Thursday, August 26, 2004

+++When doing customer support my time was my own. As long as the customer were supported I could do what I liked (this meant on the 5pmto10pm shift I would study for 4.5hrs)
+++

she 'worked' by the traditional definition, 10% of her shift on every day of the week, by her account.  Is this your definition of "making a career" of it?

muppet
Thursday, August 26, 2004


I worked a job a few years back and when we had downtime within *nothing* else to do, I studied for my classes.  One day, I got reported for "doing outside work" and was threatened with not being paid for that time.

Of course, the person who reported me normally played solitaire during her downtime.

Arg.

KC
Thursday, August 26, 2004

That sounds absolutely typical.

muppet
Thursday, August 26, 2004

Don't do it and see what happens.

fourth place
Thursday, August 26, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home