PR Time Management Part 2: Only Track What Matters

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  • April 23, 2015
  • Kari Hernandez

Last week we did something RADICAL. Something so crazy that the leadership team had to go out for margaritas afterwards to celebrate our bold creativity. By the title of this blog, I’m sure you are already disappointed but in all honesty, it is a big enough deal that I’m writing a multi-part blog about it. Here’s what we did:

We decided to only track time spent on client work and new business. Everything else is just your job.

If a minute goes untracked in a PR workday, did that minute really happen? Have we discovered a productivity time warp?

Something to know about INK: we are all full-time, salaried employees minus interns. Even so, prior to this change, we were all tracking our time down to how many minutes it took to load the dishwasher, as though our paychecks depended on it. The fact that there isn’t a specific task in Harvest for sharing clever GIFs on Slack is an amazing oversight. We tracked a lot of time that no one cares about and that isn’t billable. It’s your job and you should do those things, but no one needs a record of it. Tracking that time wastes time, and it has several other drawbacks.

Why we only track what matters:

1. Tracking admin and miscellaneous time can disguise inefficiency and overservicing. We staff our teams based on client budgets and their available hours, allowing for a healthy amount of INK admin time. Everyone looked like they had time available but still people felt overwhelmed. Why? We were not monitoring the amount of non-billable time that was being billed to client admin, a bucket that had become a crutch for spending more time than anticipated or expected on a billable assignment.

2. Figuring out what you did with that missing hour you spent at the office is a waste of time. At the end of a 9-hour day, you stare at your calendar, to-do list, and email and try to figure out what you did that took so long. As salaried employees, as long as you are meeting your INK responsibilities and playing an active role in the company culture, we don’t need to know how much time you are spending on office communication and admin. That doesn’t mean it’s not important, it’s just not important to track how much time it took. There are other, better ways to analyze participation in INK culture like leadership, relationships with your colleagues, and job satisfaction.

3. People tend to compete on overall hours, and that can lead to a culture that rewards overwork. It’s human nature to compete, and competition is healthy, but obsessing over the number at the bottom of your timesheet as compared to your colleagues can drive you crazy, and drive you to work empty hours. Tracking that total number may be rewarding inefficiency and long hours more so than efficiency and results. Cutting out the non-billable time means that time sheets are not a reflection of raw hours but productive hours.

May is a test and measurement month for this new system so I’ll check back with common questions, guidelines, and how it’s working.