Time sheets

I searched on Google Images for a photograph to illustrate the bane of my existence.  (As an aside, vocabulary.com explains my use of the phrase perfectly: “The noun bane refers to anything that is a cause of harm, ruin, or death. But we often use it for things that aren’t that bad, just feel like it. …The source of this word is Middle and Old English bana, meaning “destroyer, murderer.” … there’s something deliciously archaic about the word bane. It conjures up villages preyed upon by dragons, or witches adding one bane or another to a steaming kettle.”  YES, that’s it, I feel preyed upon by dragons, not by hearing “bane” but by Time Sheets!)

There is no image.  There’s some time sheet prepared by a truck driver noting in what location he/she was when he/she stopped for a meal and I’m sure that’s just as bad in its own way to have to fill out, but mine requires accounting for my day in six-minute increments and describing those six+ minutes in a way that conveys with understanding the work and effort that went into the time, so that the person reading it understands why they should pay an ungodly amount of money for me to have spent my time doing as described.

It’s a horrible system.  When I first started practicing law my firm billed by the hour, at a flat rate, and things were so much easier.  (And the most urgent requests we got were by fax, and that was relatively rare, but that’s another story.)  But clients started wanting a more detailed breakdown, and they wanted to pay junior associates less than senior associates and less than junior partners and less than senior partners so everything was categorized and broken down ultimately into these six-minute increments that I spend hours compiling each day.

It’s not so bad if you have one major task for the day, but my typical day is responding to an email on one project when I’m interrupted by a phone call on a different project and then I remember I was supposed to answer a question from yesterday on a third project and then an associate drops by my office with a question and then it’s time to leave for my meeting … and have to remember “exactly how much time did I spend on that email for project #1 before I was interrupted by the phone call for project #2?” and anyway I don’t have time to write it down because I’m driving to my meeting and by the time I’m back I’ll be completely engulfed in doushing some other fire… hence my hatred of time sheets.

I would love it if my firm would move to a retainer system or a contingency system or any system other than this one.  But for now I’m stuck, and while I’d rather be drafting a blog post and playing around with widgets and telling you all about my trip to Scotland and, before that, the trip to Dordogne way back in October that I have yet to describe, instead I’ll be spending this gorgeous Saturday finishing up last week’s time sheets that I couldn’t bare to complete after an exhausting day of work.

But in my Mindfulness effort I will try to make the best of each moment of completing those damn things and then hopefully find some way to get them done more efficiently next time.  Until next time, then … go out and make it a great day!

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