Does anyone like filling out time sheets and the struggle to keep jobs within budget along with the pressure to minimize non billable hours?

For years I work as a consultant in engineering firms and the process of filling out a time sheet could be an agonizing task.  What did I do all day?  All week?

At the beginning of every new time period I’d start out with the best intentions only to see my diligence fade as the week wore on.

Since launching my own business years ago, I don’t have to answer to a boss about my non-billable time and I’ve found a new appreciation for the time sheet process after learning about about a more graphic way to track my time from Cal Newport.  (calnewport.com/blog/2013/12/21/deep-habits-the-importance-of-planning-every-minute-of-your-work-day/).  Cal Newport is the author of the best selling book on productivity, Deep Work  (definitely worth a deep read!)

It is not hard to do and quite enlightening.  I find I frequently take much long to complete jobs than I’ve estimated and I spend less time on things than I think I am, about 20-30% less.  Below is one day’s entry.  It is messy but honest. I was at the studio for a about 10 hours but found I only really got in 5.75 hours of solid work.  And that was a good day!

After doing this for quite a while I came to a simple realization that everyone already knows, the culprit is distraction.  The first step in managing time is being aware of where it is going, understanding when it is leaking and what is causing the leaks.

(Let’s see, this morning: write blog post… 1 hr and 15 minutes…hmmm,that took longer than I expected. I think I’ll get a coffee.)

A working business life tracking timesheet.

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