Before training for ordination in the Church of England, I worked for over 12 years in engineering. One of the transferable “skills” I now use as a vicar is the weekly timesheet. Until last year, I kept track of how I used time using a spreadsheet, now I use Time Recorder on Andriod. Of course, I no longer have clients to charge for my time, but I have found that I do need to keep track of what I am doing for the following reasons.
1. I need to know that I am not overworking myself. As a husband and a father I can’t spend all my time at work, and the timesheet keeps me accountable. It also helps me to know when I’ve been overworking. I know, from experience, that I can generally do around 50 to 52 hours maximum per week, depending on what sort of work I have done, and maintain it. Beyond that, I start to get deep tired, browned-out. If I leave it to my body-clock, it takes about 7 to 8 weeks of overworking for me to slow down and realise it. By then it’s too late. The timesheet helps me to check where I am and when get out on the golf course or work in the garden or chill with friends and family before I know that I need to. Alex Ross, former vicar of St James’ Muswell Hill said he learned the lesson of his limits early on in ministry and that the less time he worked and more he prayed, the more effective was the time he spent in ministry.
2. I need to know that I am not underworkng myself. I can easily cop-out, so I need to know that I am not underworking. I am “employed” on trust. Having a record of what I have done is a help to me.
3. I need to know that I am doing what I think is important. Time Recorder allows me to look at how I’ve spent my time each week or each month. How much time, as a percentage, has been spent on each category of work? Again, it’s easy for me to be occupied with all sorts of less important work, which is easy to do and satisfies my sense that I am at least doing something productive. But is it what is most important?
On Time Recorder I have the following categories for time spent at work:
1. Preparation time
2. Teaching and preaching
3. Funerals and weddings
4. Training and review
5. Strategy and planning
6. Visiting and 1-2-1
7. Evangelism opportunities
8. Spontaneous unplanned (i.e. interuptions)
9. Admin and communication
12. Extra parish (incl Diocese and Deanery)
13. Study, reading and blogging
14. Conferences and courses
What are my priorities? First, study and prayer. Second, teaching, training and visiting. Third, admin and communication, which have become more important to me since reading “Getting things done” and then strategy and planning which are more long term and less immediate than they were at first, though that might be because lots of that has been done in the first three years. It’s interesting to see, long term, if my timesheet reflects these priorities. If not, I know I need to change my working patterns.