On Time Sheets: Personal Kanban and Life’s Little Annoyances

Some Managers Have to Resort to public humiliation to get time sheets

Some managers have to resort to public humiliation to get employees to submit their time sheets.

“Where is your time sheet?”

I’ll get it to you.”

“But it was due two hours ago.’”

Look, I’m really busy, okay, and I just don’t have time to figure out all that I did the past week.”

“Do you want to get paid?”

Of course I do. Look  - I’ll get it to you … I just have to finish some things.”

Perhaps the single most annoying task for most workers is filling in their time sheet. Having worked for some of the largest consulting firms on earth, I have seen truly monstrous time tracking systems.  Painful, horrible, soul crushing, and pointless.

No one likes time sheets.

A recurring time sheet question goes something like this:

“Hey Jim, what did we do on Wednesday?  I’ve totally forgotten.”

Think about that. We blow through tasks so quickly that all too often what we’ve accomplished becomes a blur. We lose entire days, weeks, months of our lives to “work” we don’t even remember doing. I would call days you can’t remember waste.

How easy it would be to use a personal kanban and write the date of completion on each task when it’s done.  Place it in the “Timesheet” column.  At the end of the week, pick those tasks off the board, and record them.

Using a personal kanban for tracking those tasks:

  • increases the accuracy of your time sheet,
  • reduces the amount of time you spend completing the timesheet, and
  • leaves you with a sense of accomplishment for actually having completed those tasks.

This transforms the time sheet into an opportunity for a quick retrospective. With the key word being quick.

Also consider: some tasks (like time sheets) seem like personal waste when they have no context. Sometimes you can mitigate waste by changing the context of the activity.

Photo cc. Charlee Brown