Timecards...oh how I hate thee

For the last 6 years of my life I have had to fill out a timecard at work. This involves allocating my work hours to different projects and tasks I worked on that week. This information is used to track the amount of labor needed for different projects. It is also used for accounting purposes since some of my labor can be accounted for in different fashions (i.e. capital, expense, research, etc.) - at least that's what the accountants tell me.

The process of filling out my timecard usually goes as follows:
Manager: "Ed, you have not filled out your timecard for the past 4 weeks."
Me: "Oh....I'll get that done right away."

Me: Go about guessing where I spent my time over the past 4 weeks.

Manager: "Ed, you charged X hours to project Y. Did you really spend that many hours on Y?"
Me: "Yeah, plus or minus 20%."
Manager: "Well we don't have that many hours budgeted for Y. You probably spent less time than you think. Charge project Z instead."
Me: "If you know how much time I spent on each project, could you please fill out my timecard for me?"
Manager: "Ummm....no. Maybe if you filled it out everyday you would remember better."
Me: "If I filled out my timecard accurately then how are you going to be able to adjust my hours to move money between projects?"
Manager: "Hmmm...."

This has happened at every place I've worked that uses timecards. There are many games played to charge different projects, different categories, etc. to keep costs within budget. It all seems like such a huge waste of time. If my manager doesn't know what I'm working on then maybe he/she shouldn't be a manager.

The following scenario also plays out on a regular basis:
Manager: "Ed, you charged more than 40 hours this week on your timecard."
Me: "That's because you told me to have the buggy software done by this week so I had to work more than 40 hours this week."
Manager: "But you are salary and don't get paid for overtime."
Me: "So....I should only work 40 hours a week? Awesome."
Manager: "No. You should do whatever it takes to get it done on time but only charge 40 hours on your timecard."
Me: "So you want me to lie?"
Manager: "No...of course not. Just adjust all your time to fit into 40 hours. Simple."
Me: "So how is the project manager going to know how many actual hours it took to complete the project?"
Manager: "Is that important?"
Me: "I quit."

At one company I worked at they would send an e-mail to your boss and HR the first time you failed to fill out your timecard at the end of the day. Two times and an e-mail was sent to the Vice President. Three times and an e-mail was sent to the CEO. After a week of instituting this policy the CEO canceled it because he was getting too many timecard e-mails.


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