toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

March 12, 2010

creative timesheets

Ruby returned to work after twelve years of raising her five children and faced what she calls 'timesheet hell'.

"Many companies these days require staff to record exactly how their time is spent at work each day," explains Ruby, "and this sort of thing was unheard of when I last worked."

"In some instances you record your time by client and the client is billed for the time you spend on his or her account - which is reasonable, understandable and perfectly acceptable," adds Ruby, "but the type of timesheet that merely wants you to record how you spend your time for the benefit of justifying your existence - or the existence of the person responsible for implementing the system - is incredibly stupid and time-wasting."

"After twelve years of mothering," laughs Ruby, "the idea of recording everything I do at work is a joke."

"Everyone is familiar with the office situation where something goes wrong," says Ruby. "Imagine how it looks on a timesheet when you have to record two hours doing something that would normally take five minutes."

"Recording the precise time you spend on tasks every day seems such an incredible waste of time and effort," says Ruby, "but it seems to be part of the new teamwork system of management and there's no way to get out of it."

"I finally solved the problem by creating a standard timesheet that I use when so many things are happening at work that I really cannot keep track of what I'm doing," laughs Ruby.

"It's not really cheating - it's being creative," explains Ruby, "and it also saves me from going insane and that's important when I have five kids to face when I get home."

Actually, Ruby’s standard timesheet - outlined below - is typical of how 99.99% of office workers do spend their time at work.

It comprises common office tasks and the time you can reasonably record for completing them.

Filling out timesheet: Ruby suggests putting down half an hour for this task.

"Everyone else will be recording anything up to an hour or more - because that is the actual time the task takes," explains Ruby, "so I always make a very good impression by spending less time on my time-sheet than anyone else!"

Perusing and responding to e-mail: Conservatively, an hour.

Answering telephone calls: Say, an hour.

Consultations with managers and co-workers: Ruby suggests at least two and a half hours.

"In a team environment, everything gets discussed not once, not twice, but as many times as it takes for everyone to get the picture and put in their two cents," laughs Ruby, "and although it sounds a lot of time it really is representative of how much time is wasted on consultations."

Dealing with IT problems: These happen regularly. Half an hour should cover it.

Locating files: Conservatively, half an hour.

Learning a new procedure or application: Ruby suggests one hour, but concedes that she often takes manuals home whenever a new procedure is implemented and spends at least three hours studying them.

Lunch: Hopefully, you are entitled to an hour.

"If you have been adding up as you go along," says Ruby, "you will see that my standard time-sheet covers eight hours, which is the precise length of a statutory working day."

"Perhaps now you can understand why everyone has to work back at night - sometimes weekends, too - in order to do some real work," laughs Ruby.

"Being creative in filling in timesheets takes some of the misery out of the task," laughs Ruby, "but it's still something I hate doing and I feel very sorry for my kids because by the time they start work who knows what the management gurus will expect of them."

"I remember work as being a pretty easy going thing," says Ruby. "If there were management gurus around twelve years ago then they were spending their time on more important things than finding ways to make staff miserable."

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