15-Minutes at a Time

At my primary job, we are all undergoing a “time study” wherein we jot down on a form everything we’re doing within 15-minute blocks of time. For three days now, I have started my day with an 8 ½ x 11 inch piece of paper with clock times in fifteen minute increments running down the left side and lines on the right to fill in my incredibly important work.

It’s making me crazy.

The first day I amused my self by filling it in as I would a twitter account. The line next to each fifteen minute block holds, roughly, 140 characters.  I like doing it this way best.

Connie is downloading and reading email – deleting most of it and ignoring the rest.

Connie went to the kitchen, poured a cup of coffee, and explained flash mobs to co-workers.

Connie lectured Name Deleted for Privacy about clicking on attachments from unknown emailers.

Day Two wasn’t quite so fun. My tasks are pretty evenly divided between multitudes of less than 5 minute things OR multitudes of long term projects. The latter I can break down, I suppose, into 15 minute intervals, but there isn’t enough space to put:

Responded to Board Member’s email explaining volunteer policy, called Theatre Dept. (again!) to try and book puppet show, answered phone call from Concerned Grandmother, rubbed co-worker’s pregnant belly, ran the halls gossiping and loitering on my way to pee, poured coffee, checked to see that server hadn’t exploded or nuttin and succumbed to a blueberry muffin.

You see the problem?

As for the projects, I’m finding it difficult to break them down, so there are tasks where I fill in one line

Developing fundraising materials

and then put ditto marks down the page.

But that’s making me frown. I’m finding that I don’t like the ditto marks. If they want 15 minute intervals, then dammit, I want tasks that can begin and end in 15 minutes. So. For Day Three, I ignored everything that couldn’t be done within 15 minutes. Then I arranged stuff so that I had the 3 minute task, the 5 minute task, and the 7 minute task all together so that I had a “clean” 15 minutes. I don’t want to start something that has to carry over into the next block. Often I can’t get it all to work out mathematically and I end up spending a minute or two staring at the time study chart thingie.

I suppose I’ve mentioned that I’m neurotic. No? Well. Now you know.

Everybody knows everybody goofs off. A couple of times, I put:

Blatantly goofing off.

I’ve always prided myself on the fact that if I’m goofing off at work I don’t try to hide it. I’m an in-your-face slacker when I slack.  Now I’m goofing off in precise fifteen-minute intervals.  Slack?  Precise?  You see the problem, right?

Then there’s the white-out dilemma. Today I had already written:

Connie is outa here!

When the boss showed up to discuss Important Things™.

After she left, I pondered whether I should white-out the “outa here” or just cross it out or just ignore the whole damn thing like the conversation never happened. But then I got all consternated that the Boss was going to put “Talked to Connie about Important Things™ “on her time study chart thingie and then it was going to look like I was falsifying my work record!

Now, really, who is going to put “blatantly goofing off” and then lie about all the rest of it?  Hmmm.  That would be kind of clever. 

Anyway. I’m not really a white-out kind of person. This is because I do everything on the computer and it’s driving me crazy to have to hand-write this thing. And now that I think about it, I don’t know for a fact that I do have to hand-write it. Hmmm.

In any event, I crossed it out and wrote:

Foiled again! Boss chose quitting time to discuss Important Things™ which were discussed with no real resolution.

The conversation only took 11 minutes so I sat there for 4 minutes and straightened the things on my desk. I did not add “straightening desk” to the form because there wasn’t any room left.

I have 6 more days of this.  I’m a little manic.

12 Comments

Filed under November 2009

12 responses to “15-Minutes at a Time

  1. Connie, I don’t know why I’m surprised just about every time I read one of your posts that we have SO much in common 🙂 Should be used to it by now. If you ever run out of wrist watches, let me know. I’ll share. And the 15-minute thing? My God, yes, how are you supposed to handle it when something takes 13 minutes and the next thing takes 17 minutes, you can’t lie or make things up, can you?? And if they don’t give you enough line space to write in perfectionistical detail exactly how you spent the 15 minutes, what are you supposed to do, use abbreviations or shorthand? Or eliminate details just because there’s no room to write them down? Report incompletely??

    Aigh. I feels for ya.

  2. It sounds like after observing yourself and recording, you should have only two or three 15 minute slots left per hour.

    Business opportunity for the entrepeneur and/or out of work nature film photographer: Business observer/recorder. Get your 15 minute slots recorded here!

  3. Oh! Oh! I had to do that shit at a vet’s office I worked at when he went all Scientology and let the Scientologist Medical Practice Managing and More-Money-Making Goons in.

    You may find these helpful:

    Team-building, data gathering, data verification, and fact-checking all = spending time talking to co-workers.

    Poo breaks and coffee runs = distributing or getting supplies necessary for Important Things (depending on whether you in expulsion mode or gathering mode).

    Prioritizing daily work flow = the time you stare at that chart and decide how you’re gonna make stuff fit.

    Managing distribution of information and work products in order to maximize workflow = the time it takes you to read your and their mail, your inbox, etc.

    Making work area presentable for clients = picking your nose, digging your panties outta your crack, spraying some Febreze to cover foot odor and/or farts, etc.

    Ya getting where I’m going here?

    I got a raise when I finished mine. True story.

    • Sigh. I’ve entrenched myself as the class clown too deeply to get away with any of those. On the brighter side, I get the idea that my twitter-esque notations are providing some entertainment.

      I did however put some of your suggestions in today and then immediately annotated them with what I was really doing, i.e. team building (talking about movies with. . .)

      I’m both irritated and surprised at how much I do. I’m underpaid. But I knew that. I knew it going in. The upside is that unlike some of my previous work history, I’m underpaid doing something that’s important.

  4. Angie

    Little maniac?! Seriously?….
    I can so relate to the last minute of the day to discuss Important Things… having flashbacks and may need intervention.

  5. I remember doing that. Since I work at a library, my 15 minutes were basically checking out books, checking in books, shelving books.

    Now in a manager position, my 15 minutes would look a lot like yours-reading email, responding to email and voicemail, working on Important Stuff, typing reports, and talking about Important Things with the boss when he calls or shows up 30 minutes after I’m supposed to be already gone. Oh, add in some FB time, a little chat with employees time-usually about toilets, honestly, and no lunch time. About sums it up.

  6. 15 minute blocks? When I did this way back when, they asked me how long it took me to get the task done and that was that. First I groaned, but once I got started and realized how much I got done it made me feel pretty good. OH and of course I added the time for filling out the form.

    • Yeah, I’m having a love/hate relationship with it. This week is the last of it and I’ll be happy to see it go, but I’ve learned some things. Overall, I’d have to say it’s been a worthwhile experience.

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