Do You Have The Time?

Always remember to keep track!

I am playing catch up with feedback generated by my “How Do You Do…Your Engineering” series. So, this month, I want to talk about time and how it relates directly to you and something you hold dear…being paid!

Whether you are working as an AV integrator or a consultant, the days have passed of keeping a local time sheet with verbiage to describe what you have done all week, how you allocated your time for specific projects, and other related activities, and then turning it in to your manager or the HR department.

Well, as I wrote, those days are gone. Even small companies now have their team members go online to execute this process. In doing so, they’re forcing you to describe everything in the form of a “category” that you might or might not be comfortable with. These categories often include paid time off (PTO), vacation time, sick days, manufacturer’s training, project tasks, certificate renewal training, etc. I have experienced these categories numerous times, and no listing ever “gets it right” all the time. It leaves you wondering who created this system!

All of that data isn’t just academic or incidental, either. Make no mistake—the latest software is (mis-)analyzing your provided data to the nth degree, comparing it to every iota of data and information the company has. What’s the purpose of that? To determine their return on investment (ROI) on you!

You will be held accountable for the results. Ultimately, annual performance reviews and merit-based raises are often based on this (along with other factors). For that reason, it is important that you keep your own records of what you do every day.

Other issues can turn up, as well. For example, in the event you lose your job, there could be questions about your final paycheck. Issues could arise if you are filing for unemployment. And, many companies hold back some weeks of pay (in other words, you are always behind); in such a case, accidentally being shorted is a possibility if you don’t have a detailed record of your work output!

So, you might ask, “Doug, what would you do?” What I have done for many years is use an Excel spreadsheet to track every hour of the day while I am at work. It indicates each function I might be doing, what project it was for, the number of hours, etc.—every important detail.

I have columns for each of the following: project, project name, description and days of the week. I have rows for numerous duties and tasks throughout the day, as well as for training, PTO, etc. Via an easy shortcut on my computer, I can open it numerous times a day and enter information.

I choose to use a new sheet or tab for each new week. You know…right click on the tab, scroll down, select “move to end” and check “make a copy”. Then, I go in and change the dates for each column (Sunday through Saturday), delete the hours and leave the projects. I start a new document for each calendar year.

Voilà! You’ve created a permanent record to refer to, should there ever be a question about your time sheet. (It also just gives you a way to keep track of your hours on a project. Frequently, I use a separate column at the end of each week called “carryover,” where I can see a running total of the hours to date on a project.)

And now, here’s the best part: If you would like a copy for your use—to see and to modify, or just to check out—be our guest and download a copy courtesy of Sound & Communications and me.

Just go to, look under Resources and you will see “Doug’s Docs.” I have numerous documents I have created over the years for you to download. Each document references the article I wrote on its use. Look under Engineering and you will see “Weekly Time Sheet.”

Please submit your comments and thoughts. Have a better time sheet you want to share? Send it to me at I hope to hear from you!

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