6 Top Time Clock Rules for Hourly Employees

As an employer, you have many responsibilities but perhaps the most important one is complying with government rules and regulations. Recently, the time clock rules for hourly employees have changed and you need to make sure that you  comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). You need to be compliant in recording work hours, breaks, overtime and calculating wages for hourly employees.

The Department of Labor (DOL) is very strict about enforcing time clock rules. If you break these rules,  your company can be penalized with substantial fines for every lapse. The best way to ensure that you fulfill federal and state time clock rules is to use a good time tracking software system.  Ensure that the system tracks employees clocking in and out at the beginning and end of their workday. And lets them check in and out of specific jobs/projects.

Hourly Vs Salaried Employees

When understanding the FLSA rules, the most critical thing is the difference between salaried and hourly employees.

A salaried employee receives pay based on an annual sum or salary. As the employer, you decide the pay period – weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. A salaried employee is not obligated to complete a time sheet, though you may use one for project management or other tracking purposes. The salaried employee’s pay is based on the salary as a whole, rather than on the actual hours worked. So, if a salaried employee works a little over or under the normal 40-hour work week, the employer doesn’t need to keep track of their work hours.

An hourly employee, gets paid by the hour for the number of hours that they worked. As the employer, you decide how many hours your hourly employee must work. Some US states and cities have authorized predictive scheduling laws that mandate that hourly employees be given a specified  amount of notice of the hours they need to work.

An hourly worker is obligated to record their working hours through a timesheet or timecard system that the employer must verify.

Time Clock rules for Hourly Employees

To help you with your FLSA obligations with hourly employees, we reviewed the important rules that you need to keep in mind. These rules are for your hourly employees clocking in and out and tracking their work hours. Here are the top 6:

  • Time tracking system
  • Reported Hours Rounding
  • Maintaining time sheet records
  • Clocking in and out
  • Confirming hours
  • Clarifying time tracking policies

Time Tracking System

The FLSA does not obligate you to use any specific kind of time tracking system.

Mobile and web time tracking
Mobile, web & Salesforce time tracking

You are free to choose any type of system to track employee time as long as it is accurate. It’s important that the system that you use tracks actual hours worked including any breaks.

dftly’s Time Tracker app is used by many businesses to track time for individual employees and teams. It works on mobile devices, on web pages and within Salesforce, with all time tracking data securely inside Salesforce, regardless of what device it was recorded on. Click here to see how your employees can record their time easily and accurately, wherever they may be working.

Rounding work hours.

The FLSA allows you to round your employees’ reported time to the nearest specified increment. You are permitted to round your employees’ time up or down. For example, if you are rounding off in 10-minute intervals and your employee finishes work at 5:16 p.m., the time should be rounded up to 5:20 p.m.

You need to round up and down fairly. If you are always rounding down (where minutes are deducted), you may be breaking overtime and minimum wage laws.

Make sure that your time tracking system automatically rounds up or down to ensure accuracy and fairness. If the rounding up has caused your employees to be entitled to overtime, then you are obligated to pay that overtime, based on the overtime laws for your state/city.

Maintaining time sheet records

Employers are required to keep time cards (or other records) that demonstrate how your hourly employees wages were calculated for a period of at least two years. The two-year period is required by the US Department of Labor and you are required to provide access to the Wage and Hour Division access to inspect your records when necessary. So make sure that your time tracking software can store timesheet records for as long as necessary. With the Time Tracker, since all records are stored securely in Salesforce, you can always maintain time records for the necessary time-frames.

Clocking in and out

As the employer, you can decide whether your hourly employees are allowed to clock in early or clock out late. However, it should only be a few minutes and not hours. With the Time Tracker, you can easily add a limit on clocking in early and clocking out late. In addition, you can configure the Time Tracker to automatically log out or check out an employee after a certain number of hours or minutes for mandatory break times.

Confirming hours

Your hourly workers should have the opportunity to confirm their hours at the

Employees verify worked hours
Employees verify worked hours

end of every pay period. Although a good time tracking system would have recorded the work time accurately, your hourly employees should be able to review and verify their hours,

Your time tracking system should give you or a designated supervisor/manager with the functionality to approve time cards. In addition, you or the manager should receive emails notifications if there are any anomalies in the time cards.

Clarifying time tracking policies

Use photos to avoid buddy punching
Use photos to avoid buddy punching

As the employer, you must inform all hourly employees of the policies and procedures regarding your time clock rules. We suggest that you include it as part of your employee handbook and provide training on how to use the time tracking system. Policies that should be explained include:

  • What happens if employees are caught tampering, or attempting to tamper with the time tracking system
  • The consequences if employees are caught trying to commit time theft
  • What happens if employees are caught buddy punching (trying to clock in and out for their colleagues).

Make the right choice for your business

Given the importance of adhering to time clock rules, it may be impossible to adhere to state and federal requirements, with just manual time cards. Investing in a good, accurate time tracking software system is the right choice for most businesses. It’s not just about potential legal and compliance problems, but you could be losing money on payroll, if you are not correctly calculating work hours with overtime and rounding.

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Checking in volunteer groups with V4S Kiosk

Checking in volunteer groups is one of the toughest things to handle for volunteer managers. Having a group of volunteers come in to volunteer together is fantastic. But tracking those new volunteers and their work time? Now that is a real challenge for you as a Volunteer Manager or Coordinator.

Multiple volunteer signup by number
Multiple volunteer signup by number

Volunteers for Salesforce gives you the functionality of adding in the number of volunteers that come as a part of a group. The point person for a group can set the total number of people in the group. This screenshot shows you how a group leader signs up a group of 20 volunteers using V4S Personal on her mobile.

But that’s really all you can record with the standard Volunteers for Salesforce data structure. The fact that the group leader is bringing in 19 other people, other than herself. There’s no way to track who the individual members of the group are. Or any of their contact information.

Extend volunteer value

For your organization, that individual volunteer data is critical. You want to be able to keep track of every volunteer that ever comes in touch with your organization. A volunteer that comes as part of a group could very likely become a repeat individual volunteer.  If you build a deeper relationship and extend communication with that volunteer, she or he could contribute to your organization by becoming more involved.

Working with group volunteers in V4S Kiosk

Based on requests and interactions with several of our V4S Kiosk customers,

Checking in group volunteers
Checking in group volunteers

we’ve now introduced a new feature to check in multiple volunteers that come in as part of a group. If the group leader comes in a little earlier than the Job / Shift start time, then she can Signup the other volunteers in her group to the specific Job / Shift. Note the

Volunteer group dropdown
Volunteer group dropdown

way that the Add multiple volunteers screen is set up in V4S Kiosk. If you have multiple volunteer groups that are coming in, you could sign up people from different groups using the same screen, by selecting the right group name for the specific volunteer that you are signing up.

If your organization requires that each volunteer sign a waiver form, you would be able to set that up. When the individual volunteer checks in to start work on the Job / Shift, she would be asked to read and sign a waiver form, right within V4S Kiosk.

Volunteer data in Salesforce

volunteer data in salesforceAll the new volunteers signed in on the V4S Kiosk get added to Volunteers as Salesforce as Contact records, with the configured Volunteer Group field updated. If so configured, the Date Waiver signed and the actual waiver signed along with the signature is stored inside Salesforce. Now you have the luxury of being able to get to all volunteer data easily and securely, right inside Salesforce.

Just imagine how much effort and time you would save with group corporate volunteers. Additionally, using the Waiver add-on would give you the ability to save effort with tracking volunteer waivers and being compliant legally. Now isn’t that something you should be checking out?

Time tracking in Salesforce

Two years ago, we started down the route of time tracking on mobile devices for field and remote workers. All data from the mobile devices synced back into Salesforce in near real-time. Our goal was to give field workers the ability to get their work times into Salesforce on a mobile. We did build a simple way to track time automatically within Salesforce, but it was quite limited in functionality.

From our market research, we saw that there was a need for time tracking data to be synced to Salesforce. Since invoicing, project management and payroll were all within Salesforce, that work hours should be in Salesforce too made sense. PSA apps, ERP apps… all included time tracking as a part of their functionality. And those apps tracked work time for employees who worked within Salesforce. So, we decided that we would not play in that space – at the time.

Mobile and web apps

Mobile Time Tracker Clock out
Mobile Time Tracker Clock out

Our initial focus was on the mobile space where field workers and remote workers could track their work times. Our goal was to enable workers to track time easily and with little fuss on their familiar phones. Soon after, based on customer requests, we rolled out a Web-based Time Tracker. This was meant for workers who were not comfortable using mobile apps. The one big feature that we added in the Web version was the ability for users to enter time after the fact. This enabled workers to enter their time at the end of the day. Soon we rolled out the capability to enter multiple lines on a timesheet. Now, people who worked on multiple jobs during the day could enter a full timesheet once a day or week.

Time sheet entries on mobile, web or in Salesforce
Timesheet entries on mobile and web

With more customer requests, we added more functionality to both the Web and the mobile apps. We introduced configurable fields that could be displayed on both the mobile and on web apps. A new Team time tracking app on the mobile lets a single Team Lead check her entire team in. We updated the mobile app to allow configurable geo-tracking and photographs. This feature allowed us to minimize buddy punching. We introduced addresses that could be opened in Google/Apple maps to help field people find their next job-site. On the web app, we added an Approval mechanism for timesheets. Now managers and supervisors can approve/reject time entries for team members.

Over a year and a half, both the mobile app and the web apps grew with more functionality. But we did not do much on the Salesforce time tracking functionality.

Time Tracking in Salesforce

Over this calendar year, though, we’ve seen a renewed interest in time tracking inside Salesforce. To the point where now, over 60% of our leads are looking for Time Tracking within Salesforce.

The May 2019 EU Court of Justice ruling and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirements have pushed time tracking to center stage. Any business that has employees is now affected by regulatory compliance for time worked, overtime calculation and break time compliance. And that has pushed interest in time tracking within Salesforce.

Time sheet entry in Salesforce

Luckily for us, because of our Mobile app, we had a lot of functionality within Salesforce already. The objects themselves, reports,  dashboards – all these existed. We have now added a number of other functions that make life easier with Salesforce. Some examples:

  • A Lightning component that can be added as a Time Tracker pop-up from the Salesforce utility bar, to track time against ANY object, including the one that the user is currently working on.
  • A multi-check in time tracking option that helps enter their complete timesheet for a day or a week at a time, after-the-fact.
  • A Summary Timesheet page that helps users within Salesforce select a date and add/see all the time entries for that day, so users can make sure they’ve recorded all their work for a given date.

Overall, we now have one of the strongest offerings for time tracking, be it on the mobile, on the Web or within Salesforce. And the best part is that you could have a combination of users, some using our mobile app, some on the web and others inside Salesforce. Regardless of where the time tracking happens, Salesforce is the single repository of all time tracking data. So integration with payroll, invoicing and ERP systems becomes that much easier.

We are thrilled to say now that we are the Timekeepers for Salesforce!

EU time tracking ruling: what it means for employees and employers

EU FlagThe Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) ruled last month that the member countries must establish detailed methods of tracking the hourly work of employees, so that they can be properly compensated for time worked.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit by the Federación de Servicios de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), a Spanish trade union, against the Spanish subsidiary of Deutsche Bank. The main issues in question related to calculating overtime hours – 54% of which goes unrecorded in Spain – and protecting obligatory rest.  “Member States must require employers to set up an objective, reliable and accessible system enabling the duration of time worked each day by each worker to be measured,” the court said in its ruling.

The ECJ ruling is explicitly intended to protect the worker against potential workplace abuses. It is an effort to enforce the European Working Time Directive, which restricts employers from making employees work more than 48 hours a week, and grants people at least 11 consecutive hours of rest every day.

What the ECJ ruling means

The ECJ ruling extends to all companies operating in the EU. The ruling does not specify any guidelines for how employers should record work hours for their employees. In most cases, companies will need a clock-in/clock-out system that would allow them to monitor when employees start and end work, and when people have breaks. Employers will need to know employees’ exact work hours.

At first sight, this may seem cumbersome and backward. But given the technology available today, this could actually be a good idea, for both employers and employees. The “punch clock” has evolved, and businesses and employees don’t have to sacrifice contemporary technical flexibility for exact timekeeping. Modern time and attendance tracking software, often on the cloud, work on mobile phones. Clocking in and out is a matter of a tap on your smartphone screen or on a web page. So even if you are checking emails at home or taking a call from your boss, tracking that time isn’t really an inconvenience. Many of the software systems are priced such that small businesses can afford them. And most provide great analytical tools.

For employees

From an employee standpoint, there’s definitely a lot to be excited about.

Mobile and web time tracking
Mobile and web time tracking

Accurate time tracking provides irrefutable, objective proof against unlawful overtime. Time tracking thus becomes a tool towards building fairer, more accountable workplaces that help protect employee safety and health.

Moving beyond just clocking in and out, good time tracking can detail the time that employees spend on different tasks, when they take breaks and how long they last. It can help document off-site and off-hours work, as well as work-related travel, all of which are frequently overlooked. Basically, it gives employees full visibility into their work schedules – allowing them to address unhealthy workloads and the associated stress, anxiety and exhaustion that come with it.

For employers

Analyze employee time
Time Tracking reports

Companies can use time tracking to track employee working hours. It makes payroll much more accurate. Billing customers for work done is now much clearer and transparent and all hours worked can now be billed. The time tracking data collected is a great source of information on project budgets, project status, progress of works, employee productivity and many other aspects that are crucial for business success. For managers, it may make sense to combine data on the quantity and task breakdown of hours worked by employees with productivity information. It may turn out, for example, that a company would be better off with more workers keeping shorter hours than with an overworked team that’s less effective because of stress and exhaustion.

Conclusion

Time tracking doesn’t have to be tedious and cumbersome. With the right approach, you can make it an integral part of your business. Most makers of time tracking software tell customers that it’s vital to make it’s use mandatory to get people into the habit of tracking time, and that the data must be checked regularly to weed out abuses and negligence. If EU companies take the ECJ’s ruling seriously and apply it properly, it could do a world of good to their employees and their economies.

 

5 reasons to go green with mobile time tracking

Eliminating paper time sheets, physical time reports to your payroll agency / department, physical paychecks and paper pay stubs are huge steps towards a green organization. In fact, most studies reveal that employees prefer receiving their checks and payroll stubs electronically.

Done right, implementing an end-to-end green path from time tracking to payroll deposits is a win-win for everyone. Let’s start with just the time tracking side of the process.

The endless paper trail

The endless paper trail
The endless paper trail

Have you looked closely around your office lately? How much of that paper lying around is for paper time sheets and paper Paid Time Off (PTO) requests? Chances are that it’s quite a lot. And have you ever looked through some of those time cards and thought that it looked worse than your doctor’s squiggles? And have you had your payroll supervisor complain on payroll day that they don’t have all the paper time sheets back from employees? You could suggest using hours from memory, but you could end up over or under paying employees, which isn’t good for anyone. So what do you do?

Sustainable time tracking

If you are stuck in that frustrating cycle, then making the move to a mobile / web based time tracking system can eliminate many of those frustrations. Think about how much you spend on buying paper every year. And how much more on filing, finding and searching for relevant documents. This is where a huge amount of time, energy and paper (and therefore money) is wasted, while increasing the amount of garbage that your company generates.

Mobile and web time tracking
Mobile and web time tracking

A simple mobile time tracking system helps reduce the headaches and wasted effort involved with paper time sheets. Here are some terrific benefits that you get with a mobile / web time tracking system:

  • Save employees and businesses time and effort with 100% accurate online time sheets
  • Decrease payroll errors with always available timesheet data
  • Eliminate time and effort in the PTO request and approval process
  • Reduce cost of paper supplies and waste generated
  • Eliminate rounding errors, buddy punching and illegible time cards.

Increase payroll and invoicing efficiency

Most certainly, you have a payroll budget. So how can you reduce the errors that

Analyze employee time
Time Tracking reports

inevitably creep in? How can you make the process as smooth as possible. Accurate time and PTO tracking is a major factor in eliminating payroll errors. You want to make sure that your employees are paid accurately for the time that they’ve worked, But you also want to make sure that you are not paying for time that was not worked. A mobile time tracking system ensures that all employee time is tracked accurately at the time that it was done and that all time tracking data is automatically synchronized in the cloud. So your payroll team and managers have access to the data immediately, right within your office, regardless of where your employees may be working.

With all data in a single centralized repository, you can easily export simple time tracking reports to your payroll system, ensuring that there is no dropped data or errors in data entry. And you can make sure that every minute is accounted for and billed, because you have all the time tracking data for your employees in the same repository.

And all this with no paper anywhere. From your employees mobile phone / webpage to your central repository to your invoicing and payroll systems. All electronically! And because it’s all in the cloud, you are not increasing the carbon footprint within your premises.

Going green makes perfect sense!

Image by iblushay from Pixabay
Go green now!

Sometimes making sustainable changes in your company is difficult. But signing up for a mobile and web time tracking solution on the cloud is easy and effective. The Mobile Time tracker is designed to make life easier for small and medium businesses while accurately tracking employee hours, wherever they may be working. And helping the environment at the same time.

Save time, save money and save the earth! Now that’s an easy decision, isn’t it?

 

Did time tracking begin with Fred Flintstone?

If you are one of the millions of people across the world who need to track their time on timesheets, you know how tedious and monotonous it can be. Tracking every minute of your work day is not fun. So I’m sure this video of Fred Flintstone joyfully punching out with the red dinosaur will put a smile on your face.

Never fails to cheer me up 🙂

But timesheets are an essential part of business. Virtually every industry measures the cost of labor, in hours and minutes. And it’s timesheets that make this possible.

Code of Hammurabi
Code of Hammurabi at the Louvre

The Ancient Roots of Time Tracking

Tracing back the history of time tracking takes us to ancient Babylon and the Code of Hammurabi. Yep, him of the “eye for an eye” fame! This ancient treatise written in 1754 BC, set a typical worker’s daily wage at 6 grains of silver. Without adjusting for 3,772 years of inflation, that works out to about $ 0.25 per day.  It also mandated specific pay for specific types of work. While wages were set by the day at that time, it laid the foundation for the time-based labor practices that we follow to this day.

The Timesheet

Ben Franklin - an early time keeper
Ben Franklin – an early time keeper

So let’s fast forward to a more modern time – the 18th century. We begin to see more emphasis on effective time management as the workforce began to shift from being mostly independent work to an employer-employee business model. One of the key champions of time tracking was Benjamin Franklin. He kept the most meticulous and detailed time tracking records that could ever be. In fact, looking at what he could accomplish in one day, would make most of us feel worthless. He’s even credited with coining the term “time is money” to drive home his point.

Following Ben Franklin’s views about time and money, employers wanted to make sure that they only paid for time worked. While employees wanted to make sure that they were actually being paid for that time. Obviously there was a need for accurate and efficient time tracking methods. Pen-and-paper based time tracking records were the solution at the time. Though the system was error-prone, time consuming and relied heavily on employees maintaining truthful and accurate records, the practice continued for years and is still used in some businesses.

The Time Clock

The Bundy Clock
The Bundy Clock

Move on to the 19th century, and finally the world caught up with Fred Flintstone’s punch clock method of recording time.

As timekeeping technology developed, the daily wage was replaced by the hourly wage. In November 1888,  an Auburn, NY jeweler named Willard Bundy started producing a time tracking product by the name of The Workman’s Time Recorder. His brother Harlow started mass producing the clock and in 1890, they filed for a patent for the clock.

Several other inventors during that time period developed mechanical time recording devices to help businesses keep track of their employees’ hours. Over the next century, entire companies dedicated to time tracking solutions emerged, improving on the Bundy design. To this day, many manufacturing plants and business office employees use a time card and a black box system similar to Bundy’s Clock to record their attendance and payroll. But not all professions paid so much attention to the clock. Engineers, lawyers and architects still charged by the job and not by the hour.

The Billable Hour

A paper timesheet
A paper timesheet

During the 1950s, the efficiency experts who had squeezed extra production out of factories brought their skills to bear on the service professions. They created a new measure: the billable hour. Thus laying the foundation for your <insert profession here> charging you hundreds of dollars while you discuss last night’s game with him 🙂 Billable and non-billable hours became a significant part of project estimating and forecasts. Workers tracked their time on paper timesheets, creating a huge repository of information about how long different tasks would take.

Time Tracking in the Digital Age

As computers became more ubiquitous in the workplace, many companies started replacing the cumbersome paper time sheets with digital ones. Programs like Excel and eventually time tracking software revolutionized the way that businesses tracked their employees’s hours and time-off.

Rather than punching in and out, employees now swipe a card, enter an identification number or perhaps just click a button. All the data is then stored digitally for easy access at any point. Better yet, it’s now remarkably easy to discern patterns in and trends in the time sheet data through automatically generated reports and dashboards.

Mobile Time Tracking

Mobile Time Tracker Clock out
Mobile Time Tracker Clock out

Increasingly, supervisors and employees in the field are using mobile devices such as phones and tablets to capture the time spent on different projects and tasks. Automating these tasks, frees up employees to focus more on their work and less on writing down their time.  In addition to time, employees can also track notes, photos, expenses and other details all on their mobile devices. With mobile devices, employers can also choose to track GPS locations as well. And with all time now efficiently and easily tracked, businesses are pleasantly surprised by the addition to their bottom line when they move from paper time sheets to mobile time tracking.

5 reasons why being on time is important

Being on time

Do you think being on time is important? And if so, how important is it? Being a company that focuses on time tracking, our response is obviously biased 🙂 But ask just about anyone (regardless of whether s/he is on time) and chances are that the answer would be “Of course, it’s important”.

Importance of being punctual
Importance of being punctual

Being on time, matters. It communicates whether others can trust you and rely on you. It tells others how you view yourself and them and how important your relationship with them is to you. So professionally, can you afford not to be on time? Being consistently on-time or even early is a great way to make yourself stand out from the crowd and create a fantastic first impression.

Barring true emergencies, there’s really little excuse for not being on time. Being on time is completely within your control. You know most of the factors that control being on time. Taking ownership of them and making sure that you’re punctual shows that you value the other person’s time and relationship. King Louis XVIII of France said “Punctuality is the politeness of kings”. Let’s look at why being on time is important.

  1. Being late weakens your position: When you’re late, you start off on the wrong foot. You don’t want to start an important meeting with an apology. Not only will you be stressed and scattered, you may make the other person question their choice of working with you. If you can’t be trusted to be on time, what are the chances that you can be trusted with a customer’s money?
  2. When you’re not on time, you’re stealing: If time is money, then by being late, you’ve actually taken something of value from the other person. And that is definitely NOT a great way to start business negotiations or relationships. The other person feels that they’ve already given you something, so they’re not likely to make any other concessions.
  3. Being late sends a lot of bad vibes: Being late tells others a lot about you, your integrity and dependability, and your respect for others. It tells them that you value your own time more than theirs, and that you think that whatever you were doing was more important than what they could be doing with their time. It shows disrespect and disregard and tells the other person that you are disorganized. None of which are great starts to a relationship.
  4. There’s no good excuse: Other than a real emergency – and sleeping late or traffic don’t make the cut – being on time is 100% within your control. And it’s not difficult. It takes some planning and organization, but compared to most other challenges at work, being on time is simple.
  5. Being late wastes time and money: When you’re late, you’re not getting yourself a few “extra” minutes. You’re throwing away those minutes on things that could have been done correctly with just a little bit of planning. Being late means that you create a lot of extra work for yourself in rescheduling meetings, or follow-up meetings because you couldn’t complete your full agenda, Or you could slow down another project because of the time that you lost on this one. And that’s all in terms of time. Now think about the effect on money. Have you ever missed a flight because you were late? Does your kid’s daycare charge you by the minute when you pick up your kid late? Have you paid extra for parking because your meeting ran over? Being late can lead to costly mistakes.

So we encourage you to take pride in being a person who is always on time and prepared for your appointments. After all, there’s no downside in being early, but there’s a significant downside to showing up late.

So what are your tips for being on time? Do you think being on time is important? Please share your tips and thoughts with us.

 

 

 

5 workplace time wasters (and how to eliminate them)

Time wasters at workIf you think of your workplace as an obstacle course filled with distractions, you’re not alone. Between long meetings, emails, social platform notifications, alerts from your mobile phone and loud colleagues, most of us are inundated with potential time wasters. But the killer is not just the distraction, it’s how much time it takes to get your focus back on the task at hand. According to a UC Irvine study, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to where you left off, after an interruption. Honestly, it’s a wonder work gets done at all!

But maximizing your productivity at work can mean the difference between leaving at a reasonable time or being endlessly chained to your desk. Work-life balance is important to maintain your sanity and actually have a life outside work. So let’s identify some of the biggest time wasters in the workplace and see how we can address them.

Time Waster # 1: Email

We’ve all become addicted to email. It’s a great way of asynchronous

Too much email
Too much email

communication. Chances are checking email is the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you go to bed. But emails can also lead to lots of unnecessary back-and-forth communication that wastes time. And with trigger-happy Reply All co-workers, your Inbox is probably full all the time!

Solution:

  • If it’s something that needs to be discussed, talk face to face with the person and get the issue resolved.
  • If you can’t do face to face, then call them on the phone and get the issue sorted out.
  • Follow the call with a quick email detailing what you discussed.
  • If you are not the person to whom the email is addressed, set it aside for later.
  • Check emails at specific times during the day. Respond to urgent ones quickly. Set aside others and Reply All emails to be dealt with at a later time.

Hack: If you are not the person to whom the email is addressed (you have only been CC:d), then don’t feel obliged to respond. Use the same logic when you send out emails too.

Time Waster #2: Meetings

Meandering Meetings
Meandering Meetings

Meetings can be a huge time-sink. And if they are poorly planned and executed, then they are doubly so.  Doodle (an online scheduling service) just released results of it’s study of 19 million meetings in the US, UK and Germany. The cost of poorly organized meetings just in the US in 2019 is estimated at $ 399 billion.

Solution:

  • Make sure that every meeting host has a set agenda to be discussed and that it’s distributed to attendees before the meeting starts.
  • Talk to the meeting host and ask why you should attend. If you feel that someone else from your team would be able to contribute more to the task at hand, then get them to go and give you an update.
  • If you are hosting the meeting, make sure that everything is set up and visual aids are up and running before people walk into the meeting.

Hack: Set up all your meetings to be stand-ups. Schedule them for 20-30 minutes. Very little chance that they’ll go over. 🙂

Time Waster # 3: Smartphones and Social distractions

Smartphones enable us to be more connected and tuned in. But it also comes

Social distractions on your phone
Social distractions on your phone

with a built in productivity sink. US adults spent an average of 3 hours 35 minutes per day on mobile devices in 2018. Recent research shows that 58% of staff spend at least 4 hours per week on non-work websites. That’s a lot of your work time that’s going into unproductive stuff.

Solution: 

  • Turn off all Notifications on your phone during work hours. Believe me, you’ll get a lot more done.
  • If you can’t resist checking your social media accounts every 5 minutes, block them.
  • Give yourself a proper lunch-break. Use that time to check all your social media accounts and non-work websites, without feeling guilty about it.

Hack: Put your phone face down when you’re working. Stops all calls and notifications. Most smartphones let you set up some numbers (family) that will still ring, when your phone is face down. But all other distractions will stop.

Time Waster #4: Chatty coworkers and a noisy office

It’s hard not to talk to colleagues. After all you spend 40 hours (perhaps more)

Chatty coworkers
Chatty coworkers

with them every week. But chatting with colleagues is one of the biggest time wasters. And with open plan offices, even if you aren’t chatting, the noise of others chatting, laughter, phone ring-tones can all contribute to stop you from staying focused.

Solution:

  • See if you can move or work in an empty conference area / room when you need to do focused work.
  • Limit banter to lunch time or break time.
  • If possible, see if you can work remotely when you have important things to complete.

Hack: Wear headphones while you work. Signals to your coworkers that you are busy and they’ll only disturb you if it’s work-related and important. Also, several studies state that listening to calming sounds like flowing water or rain can help you focus.

Time Waster #5: Failed multi-tasking

You probably think that multi-tasking makes you more productive. But the reality

Failed multi-tasking
Failed multi-tasking

is very different. Studies have consistently proved that the majority of people have lower performance when trying to do multiple tasks. So if you find yourself juggling 3 or more tasks at a time, it’s time to reevaluate your work habits.

Solution:

  • Spend some time creating a daily task list that promotes single-tasking.
  • Prioritize and then break up your day accordingly.  If possible, assign a set time to do each task, based on importance.
  • Complete one task before moving on to the next.

Hack: Put specific tasks at specific times on your calendar (phone/desktop/paper). Make sure that you do the tasks at those times.

While each one of these time wasters probably doesn’t seem that serious, collectively they can be a huge drain on your productivity and work time. They can prevent you from focusing on real work, causing you to stay late or taking unfinished work home to your family. I hope this list helps you identify your personal time wasters. And gives you some pointers on how you can get more quality time with your family and on things that you really enjoy. Good luck! And do share your tricks to eliminate time wasters.

 

 

 

10 Inspirational Quotes About Time

Each of us has things that we are passionate about. For us, that “thing” is Time. That’s the reason why our software products are all about helping people track time. Whether in the for-profit or in the non-profit world, our goal has always been to help track their work and volunteer time easily and effectively.

And that’s why we decided to put together this list of the 10 most inspirational quotes about time.  Here’s our list. If you have found (or made up) interesting quotes about time, please do share them with us. We’d love to hear about them.

Let’s start with this classic one about “Today”.

Quote from Bill Keane

How appropriate is this quote from Steve Jobs about the limited amount of time we have.

Steve Jobs quote

For someone who spent so much time imprisoned for his political activities, Nelson Mandela’s capacity for doing good is unmatched.

Nelson Mandela quote

The great writer – Leo Tolstoy – evokes a powerful image.

Leo Tolstoy quote

And how could Sigmund Freud have predicted the Internet’s obsessive hangup with cat videos?

Sigmund Freud quote

Only a poet could have painted such an evocative picture of the value of time.

Rabindranath Tagore quote

The Philosophy of Andy Warhol has some profound quotes including this one about time.

Andy Warhol quote

Here’s a humorous one. This one’s often mis-attributed to Groucho Marx.

Andrew Oettinger quote

And from William Penn, this one about what most of us do with time.

William Penn quote

And we wind-up with this succinct and completely relatable quote from Ben Franklin.

Ben Franklin quote

Here’s a bonus one. I couldn’t let you go without one from my hero – Albert Einstein.

Albert Einstein quote

I hope these quotes will inspire you to spend your time wisely and perhaps have more fun, too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is time really moving faster? The story of time measurement

Talk to almost anybody and you’ll hear about how rushed their lives are and how they never seem to have time for anything. Talk to older people and they’ll tell you about how their growing up years were slower and gentler. So has time measurement changed? Are we measuring it differently now?

Think about life in an agricultural society. Nature set the pace there. Farmers woke up when the rooster crowed, ate their mid-day meal when the sun was right overhead, brought their animals home to the barn at dusk and went to bed, when night fell. A simpler time? Perhaps.

That worked when people lived and worked individually. Even when craftsmen and handloom workers worked individually or with a few apprentices, they had the luxury of doing things at their own pace, perhaps even taking a day off because they felt like it. But as work became more inter-connected and inter-dependent, that lifestyle began to change. And pretty dramatically at that.

The Industrial Revolution
Our modern value of time stems from the Industrial Revolution. It brought about a huge change in the perception of time. Time became more defined and standardized.

Factory Time

With the Industrial Revolution came factories. With factories came

The 8 hour work day
The 8 hour work day

machines. Machines were expensive to start and run. So the factory owners needed people to start and end work at specific times to maximize the use of their machines. And with that came the concept of factory clocks and loud sirens that aurally signaled to workers when they had to come in to work. Sirens or whistles would signal lunch times and break times. These break times were the only times that the machines would stop and fall silent. And gradually, all factory workers times and schedules got inextricably linked to the machine on-off times. Factory workers became slaves to time as demands for efficiency became greater.

As the Industrial Revolution progressed, banks and other commercial activities began to grow to provide services for the fast growing and expanding factories. While workers at these commercial activities were not ruled by whistles or sirens, they too had specific, defined work hours. Easier perhaps than those of the factory worker, leading up to the term “banker’s hours”.

Transportation time.

With roads and turnpikes and tracks for steam engines criss-crossing the country, the Industrial Revolution completely upended travel in England. And from a time perspective brought about big changes. Towns generally went by solar times and kept it’s own local time. Even in a country as small as England, these times could

Owen Blacker
1913 time zone map of the US

vary by over 30 minutes if the town were on opposite ends of England. Now transplant that same system to the United States and see how much more complicated things become in this vast country. The greater speed of locomotives made inconsistent times even more difficult to control. Scheduling trains and stage coaches was a nightmare. So uniform time became a big issue. As a result in England, a uniform railway time was adopted, based on the Greenwich Mean Time, leading to the division of the world into time zones.

Military time

The mania for timekeeping and efficiency spurred by the Industrial Revolution made pocket and wrist watches very popular. And with the growth of wrist watches, life became simpler for the military. It was easier to coordinate attacks across larger geographical stretches with officers having synchronized wrist watches. For the most part, officers were expected to purchase their own wrist watches, preferably with a luminous (radium coated) dial and an unbreakable crystal. By the end of the First World War, all officers and soldiers in the British Army had been issued wrist watches. The wrist watch made it simpler for soldiers to check the time, without having to take their hands off the gun to take out a pocket watch. After the war, men continued to wear their wrist watches, propelling them into the mainstream.

The number of minutes in an hour or the number of seconds in a minute has not changed over time. But the ruthless efficiency demanded by the Industrial Revolution, has regulated our lives and made more synchronized withe clock, rather than with the natural rhythms of nature.