Most project managers are obsessed with data. They need to be, in order to drive their projects successfully and make accurate schedules and delivery dates. Data can be collected in different ways, but project managers often rely on their project contributors to submit their timesheets, which provide the data they hold so dear. The problem here is that contributors often struggle with the idea of time tracking, and the need to fill in a “pointless” timesheet. They see it as a nuisance, to the tune of: “If I’ve completed all my work, why do I have to fill in a timesheet to prove that I’ve finished it?”
And in some respect, why should project contributors track time? Some companies require their employees to fill in their timesheets and then hammer heavy penalties to those who don’t. This approach can create resentment and fuel resistance against that essential data that project managers crave in order to plan, allocate and schedule resources.
So, what if I told you that the judicious use of a timesheet can help you get a promotion? Here are three reasons why it’s true.
1. Your timesheet is your weekly report card.
It’s difficult to be mindful of what kind of work you get done every day. Nonetheless, using your timesheet as a weekly report card is a fantastic way of understanding what kind of work was accomplished and what else needs to get done. Not only that, your timesheet is a legitimate way of keeping your work-life balance in check, and being able to remind yourself to not work 50 hour weeks.
Furthermore, let’s say you are working overtime and you want more help. Timesheet info validates this need. If conversely, you find yourself with some time on your hands, you can start planning for next week. Who knows, maybe you can start taking on some optional projects. As you complete these, you can then use the data in your timesheet to show your manager the kind of work you’ve put in. You can expose how these extra projects have added a particular kind of value to the company—a win/win scenario. At the end of the day, you’ll at least have valuable insight into how you’re using your time; you’ll have hard data to back up a request for more resources, and the potential to outperform others.
I believe that if you are disciplined in action but don’t really have the data to show for it, then your efforts are almost worthless in retrospect. It’s like working really hard throughout college but not having a report card or diploma to validate your accomplishment. In other words: When push comes to shove, how will you prove your worth? Sales teams across the U.S. often claim that if work isn’t recorded in a CRM, the team’s effort doesn’t exist. They have a point. Organizations drool over information—they need whatever it takes to give them the extra edge, and this collection of raw data starts internally. With more information, organizations are going to be able to provide resource leveling and create better workflows for their project contributors.
It takes discipline to consistently complete your timesheet and to understand how you’ve been spending your time. But if you make the effort, you’ll start focusing on the work items that are most important to your business. Plus, if you’re a timesheet-based organization, and you forget to fill in your timesheet again, you become a nuisance to your boss who keeps getting pings from payroll. That’s definitely not a good recipe for success.
Self-discipline makes a difference in your career. And it can start with one simple action—completing your timesheet.
Companies make money on selling their expertise. They make money on the time their most-valued assets bring to the table. Organizations succeed by keeping track of their resources accurately and easily—from billing and reviewing time, to paying for time, reporting on time and getting paid for employees’ time. Don’t forget: You are a valued asset, and you’re making the company money. Taking advantage of your timesheet and your expertise will provide you leverage to get to the next level.
With time tracking, you can break down your work and carefully analyze where and when you can work more efficiently and effectively. For example, if you learn that you’re spending two hours on emails a day, you can start to look for ways to cut that time in half; if 10 a.m. is a common time for meetings, schedule strategy and focused work for 2 p.m. and stick to it.
At first, it might be difficult to take your timesheet seriously; it might be even harder to believe that it can land you a promotion. However, resources like a timesheet can offer up the data your manager and your manager’s manager need to see in order to give you the promotion you’ve been working toward. Hard work and drive are the main ingredients to your success, but it’s all about how you use the salt-and-pepper of time management that can make or break your experience with a company.
At the end of the day, your work and your time is your business, so manage it and sell it. Your timesheet is a place to start.
Tell us how you’ve used timesheet data to advance your career and skills.