Should I keep tracking my time anyway?

Sent by Jonathan Stark on August 11th, 2018

In the value pricing community, there’s an ongoing holy war about whether or not it’s okay to keep using timesheets even after you stop billing by the hour. Timesheets vs no timesheets is to the pricing community what spaces vs tabs is to the software development community.

Which is to say that there are passionate arguments made on both sides of the debate by people who act as if it’s a matter of life and death, when really the “right” decision for any individual is mostly a matter of personal taste.*

In my case, I continued tracking my time for maybe a year after I started value pricing. It was partially just a habit and partially a security blanket and partially the sense of satisfaction that it gave me to look back at it as evidence of work done.

But... it became comical after a while, so I stopped.

Here’s why:

As I moved away from hourly billing toward value pricing, I was naturally drawn to undertake higher value activities. Things that took more head work and less hand work. To actually track this higher value brain work in a timesheet would have required making ridiculous entires, like:

0.1 hours - “Had a great idea for the presentation Nokia wants me to deliver at their world conference”

(Nokia was a client around that time)

The kind of work that we do is creative.

It’s hard to really capture when or how long it took for ideas or insights or breakthroughs to materialize.

The only kind of time I found easy to track was the implementation/execution stuff and meetings.

But that stuff wasn’t where my biggest value came from. My biggest value came from insights that changed the entire strategy of a team or an organization.

So...

If you’re doing mostly implementation/execution types of “hands work”, then maybe tracking time might be interesting for personal reasons. 

But...

Continuing to track your time after you have stopped billing for it could very well limit your thinking to the set of activities that are easy to track on a timesheet.

The most important breakthroughs will show up as a blip on a timesheet, if at all.

Yours,

—J

*Unless you prefer tabs, in which case you’re obviously a monster.   


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