It’s called ‘punching in’ for a reason. Not because it traditionally involved a clocklike machine and a punch card, but because everyone hates timesheets for the simple reason that it reminds us our time is not our own. The result is a fear of filling in timesheets, timesheetophobia, and its cousin supportcallophobia, the fear of documenting support calls.

Everyone hates timesheets for the simple reason that it reminds us our time is not our own

Company responses vary. Some opt not to keep timesheets at all. With motivated and conscientious staff this can work well. But, if time management is an issue, there are no statistics to indicate where time is draining away. There is an axiom that states, ‘what gets measured usually improves’. It does, but there are limits. I once worked for a company that required its staff to document their time in 6-minute increments. Morale, dedication and loyalty were in direct proportion.

Most of us are okay-ish with timesheets. We may not love them but we recognise them as a reasonable business request. We know they are only useful if they are accurate so we fill in the damn things.

Those who do dislike—or even avoid—timekeeping tend to be technical staff with an equal dislike for face-to-face communication: the ‘IT bunker’ mentality. Behind these traits may lurk an array of disempowered feelings:

  • A fear of responsibility
  • A fear of accountability
  • A fear of failure or not being good enough

As a result, challenging poor timekeeping can provoke strong outbursts and displays of childish petulance that seem out of all proportion to the issue. So tread warily and learn how to start awkward conversations.

Do you suffer from timesheetophobia?

No worries. Here’s an exercise to reduce the timesheetophobia blues.

1.    Breathe—deep, rhythmic breathing with your awareness on your breath

2.    Gaze—stare at the timesheet. Be as emotionally neutral as you can

3.    Feel—feel the fear. Don’t try to squash it. Just let it well up

4.    Breathe—again, while the fear is rising

5.    Affirm—“I am responsible.” “I am accountable.” “I am good enough.”

6.    Repeat—until the fear fades. It may take a few goes at the exercise

Timesheetophobia dwells in our unconscious, seeping out at regular intervals to sap our will to, well, fill in timesheets. This exercise recognises its existence and gently coaxes it into our consciousness, where we can deal with it. The more neutral you can be, the better. If it’s really stuck, get help. Don’t worry. Timesheetophobia is extremely common. But it needn’t be. It’s up to you.

Right. Post written. Better fill in my timesheet!

Image: Be My Sawhorse Stud! By Philo Nordlund on Flickr. Cropped to 16:9.

This article was originally posted on LinkedIn.