Welcome! I’m elated you’re here. To say I’m relieved to launch this website is an understatement. In retrospect, I wish I had kept a count of the hours allocated for this project. It’s always like that isn’t it? Anytime you finish a big project, you think back. “Damn! I should have kept track.” But you don’t, because you never think it’s going to take as long as it takes. It’s only afterward that you realize it took so damn long and by then, you’re just glad it’s finally over and you want the biggest adult beverage of all time. The website developers know exactly how much time they allocated. Of course they do, it's what they do, and I love what they did. Beyond that, I spent late nights and weekends writing every word of content, asking questions and second guessing everything to the point that my loved ones (see About) avoided calls and more recently eye contact. If I want to go back and figure it out now, it’s going to take more time. At this point, what’s the point?
Well, this is my new blog for young professionals so there must be a point, right? Of course there is. The point is it’s important to learn early in your career how to account for time. It’s always going to get away from you, and you won’t ever have enough of it. Just about everyone underestimates how long just about everything takes. Most people don't have a clue how much time they spend on routine tasks or their core job responsibilities. Even if you don't itemize your hours for client billing, there's value in knowing all of this. Why? Here are two good reasons.
People are going to challenge you. “I don’t understand how it can take that long to complete this.” If they don’t know how to do your job they can’t possibly understand how long it takes you to do it. That’s where data can help. You can explain “When you look at my regular responsibilities and factor in the hours I’m estimating for this project based on my time tracking, this is realistic. Take a look.” In the big triple constraint scenario, this sets things up quite nicely to lobby for more time, a change in scope or more resources.
People are going to depend on you. You need to know how long it’s going to take you to get your shit done so they can get theirs done. Proper planning on your part means your action plans, and target dates mean something other than your half-assed attempt to throw spaghetti on the wall to see if it sticks. Missed deadlines wreak havoc on the next person, the team, and your credibility. You don’t want a lack of credibility dogging you. It's not pretty, people.
So, find a time tracking app that works for you and start using it. There are 13 in this Business Insider article to choose from. Or, if you want to go manual, take a day, any day and track your time. How much time does it take to complete your routine and core job tasks? Categorize them and keep track. If you get sidetracked, game over, you have to start over. Then, the next time you get an assignment or start a new project, track those hours as if you had to account for every 10-minute segment to get paid for your time. Save the data for both, but remember to add to it when new things come up. You'll find it a useful resource when the boss or team come running and ask for your help. And, it's a lot easier than cleaning pasta off the wall.
Welcome to the blog and the Your Office Mom website. Explore. Comment. Question. Teach me a thing or two. I’ll do my best to return the favor.
Photo by Amy Russell Well Cultivated