If you do a good job of Construction Administration,
you, the architect, will lose money.
How often do you complete your timesheet?
I personally have used 'twice monthly', 'weekly', and 'daily' timesheets. You are probably different than me; but when I filled out my timesheet it usually went something like this ...
8 REASONS FOR ROUNDING-UP YOUR TIME
This might be controversial.
I think architects should round-up their time.
I also think that you should complete and submit your timesheet daily. If you aren’t completing your timesheet daily, then this idea won't interest you because you are already fudging your time entries.
This is why rounding-up isn’t fudging.
Most Architects can’t afford to do accounting
The reason is simple. Most architectural firms have less that 10 people.
By most, I mean 80%.
And architects can’t afford it because it takes at least 20 hours per week of someone’s time - on average. Just for accounting functions.
I am a bit of a self-help junkie. Lord knows I need it. My first architect-boss informed me that I might make a better monk than an architect. I never listen.
During my self-help bingeing years, I probably consumed two dozen books that tried to tell me how to manage time. Very little of that wisdom stuck. The real help came from the authors who talked more about goals and priorities than time-management. Folks like Steven Covey, and Dan Sullivan of The Strategic Coach. But once you set goals for yourself, how do you actually get there?
The best system I have found is 'The Three Things'. I don't know where it originates, but at least once a year I read an article that promotes the idea.
Priorities Are Good
Here is a general rule of thumb for setting priorities when you are working on a project. I find that it is the best way to move a project ahead effectively during the design phases. It is ideal to tackle design issues in this order:
You have probably heard it before, and it is true. You need to fill out, and submit, time sheets daily. Why? I suspect that you know, but I'll recap for you.
Some Random Thoughts On Time Management:
THE WORK DAY
The 8-5 work day is quickly becoming an anachronism. It is still meaningful for a lot of workers, but not for knowledge workers, designers for instance. Being at the office is only good for making it look like something is getting done. When you factor in all the gossip, 'doing office stuff', interruptions, 'having a meeting' events and times when you really don't feel like working, the typical work day is maybe 5 hours of actual work. Maybe.
I think it would be more adult-like for everyone to work 35 productive hours a week when and where they want to work them.
Compensatory Time is a tool for recognizing and documenting actual hours worked. If the goal is 35 hours of productive work a week, and you actually worked 30 or 40 hours, then the 5 hour difference is tracked as a running balance. Periodically you evaluate whether any action should be taken. A big balance might merit a bonus. A deficit might require a conversation, or it might show that the work is getting done just fine without all the hours. It is basically a salary tool to make sure neither party is being taken advantage of.
OFFICE HOURS / BEING AT THE OFFICE
The reality is that knowledge workers don't have many reasons to be at the office. Office hours let the letter carrier and sales reps know when they can expect to find someone in the office. Everyone else communicates by phone or email. So set the goal of manning the office from 10 AM to 3 PM. Post a sign. Coordinate schedules to meet the 10 - 3 goal; and let everyone work at the office when they want to.
SCHOOL HABITS / OUTGROW OR HONOR?
I know I taught myself some lousy time-management habits when I was in school. I wouldn't be surprised if you did, too. If those habits don't work for you, by all means change them. But if those habits represent who you are and how you deal with time, then I think it is alright to decide to honor the habits and not change. I promised myself that when I turned 40 - "no more all-nighters". My last all-nighter was when I was 52.
MEETINGS / STANDING MEETINGS
Meetings are the biggest time-wasting invention of all time. I have caused at least a few man-years of wasted time with my meetings. Standing meetings should be outlawed. Standing meetings always degenerate into a waste of time. An email is usually more than adequate. When it is easier to call a meeting than to write the email, you are really out of control. Always have a unique agenda to make sure you know what you want to accomplish. Don't copy the agenda from the last meeting. Start from scratch. If the purpose of the meeting is to make comments, send an email. If you want input, send an email. If you want a decision, send out a poll. Just make sure you need to meet to get the result that you need.
EFFICIENCY VS EFFECTIVENESS
Efficiency and effectiveness are not the same thing. You want effectiveness every time. Some people can get tons of stuff done every day. They burn through the mail, the email, setting up meetings, making decisions, completing assignments. It is possible that they were 100% efficient in the use of their time. If none of this work led to accomplishing their top priorities, then they were 0% effective. Racing to the finish line only counts if you are in the right race.
The best technique that I have found for staying effective is the 3 Daily Goals. End each day by evaluating what you accomplished toward your 3 Daily Goals. Then write down the 3 Daily Goals you want to accomplish the next day to take you closer to meeting your top priorities. During the day, check the list every hour or so. Get back on track if needed.
I can't tell you what your priorities should be, but I can tell you how to prioritize your design work.
If you are keeping your billable time in a spreadsheet, or, god forbid, a paper form; I found a really nice alternative, OfficeTime
Although there is a one-time cost of $47 for a Mac or Windows desktop version, you will certainly make that up by capturing all your time more easily. This is especially true if you also use the $8 iOS app so you can log your billable time anywhere.
The iOS apps synch with the desktop app by bluetooth. Once you turn it on, it just happens when the apps and desktop versions are open and nearby. I use an iPhone, iPad and the desktop and there has never been a hiccup.
The app is clean and simple with enough tools to do what you need by using the Timesheet, Project, Categories and Reports screens.
The main data entry is by adding or editing a session or expense. A Session is a work session in which you select the project and record the date, start time, time duration of the work session, and the category you want to assign the time to. If needed the session can be resumed later in the day rather than have two similar entries. The app’s settings let you use the last session’s info to avoid repetitive data entry. You can also add a note to each entry to describe the work you did.
OfficeTime works perfectly for me. I have been using a time-keeping system that is part of the accounting system that I subscribe to. I was in the market for a cheaper solution. I found a free accounting system, Wave; but there is no time-keeping and the invoicing is clumsy. That's where OfficeTime comes in. For a one-time charge that is a 75% reduction in my annual cost, I will have my needs covered. And no monthly fee. I think that for small design teams OfficeTime is a home run. Try it out, there is a 21 day trial of the complete desktop version and free, but limited, iOS apps. Constant logging of time is the only way to go. OfficeTime makes it easy.
SINCE THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST PUBLISHED a lot has changed. So it's time for an update.
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Updated: September 28, 2013
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