The benefits of recording your time

02Anthony Haynes writes: In my thirties I decided at one point to switch from a full-time job to a part-time one in the same organisation. My new contract was for 0.6 of the week.

All my colleagues told me, ‘Of course, although you’ll be paid 0.6, you’ll end up doing more work than that’, They made the impossibility of restricting the claims of your time of part-time working sound like a law of nature.

Fortunately I had some months to prepare for the transition. During that time I recorded my use of work time carefully.

I used a simple paper-based grid. The rows consisted of times of day, in broad categories — ‘Before the working day’, ‘First half of morning’. etc.

The columns represented types of work, again based on broad categories — ‘discussion with colleagues’, ‘admin’, etc.

The record enabled me to calculate the actual amount of time that I spent working whilst I remained on the full-time contract. It also enabled me to analyse my use of time.

When I moved to the part-time contract, I used the data to set myself targets to ensure that my work was proportionate to my contract — no more, no less.

Despite the warnings of my colleagues, I did manage to keep to these targets.

This would provide a happy end to the story — except that it isn’t the end. It turned out that recording the data yielded an additional benefit — one that I hadn’t foreseen. The fact that I recorded time according to category of work enabled me to reflect on whether the way I was allocating my time was optimal.

Which, of course, it wasn’t. In this particular case, I was spending too long talking to colleagues — much more than I had thought. As a result I was able to increase my efficiency by changing the way I allocated time.

This suggests to me that, even someone who is not contemplating a change of hours (for example, from full-time to part-time) would stand to benefit from recording their allocation of time.



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