Why time sheets are important and why you should love them…

We’ve all been there, asked as a young architect by the partner or office manager to get the time sheets up to date.

It was one of my least favourite jobs; I have difficulty trying to remember what I did 5 minutes ago let alone a day earlier in the week.

But now as someone running an architectural practice I now appreciate their purpose and why they are so important. So this blog is to aid other young architects (and some not so young) in order to love completing your timesheets:

1. They gauge on each job whether you’re spending the right time

Generally I normally work on a fixed lump sum or a percentage (I’ll come onto working hourly a bit later); which means that effectively there is a fixed number of hours that you should assign to each work stage (for information on the RIAI Work Stages I work to CLICK HERE ). The timesheets therefore allow you to keep check on whether you are either: a. Working to a reasonable hourly rate or b. Working for less than minimum wage.

2. They help gauge whether you are charging enough (or too much) for your services

When you have completed a good set of projects you are able to analyse whether the time spent equates to how much money has been brought in. This allows you to accurately put a price on how much you consider your services are worth. There will always be other designers who will charge less than you but with data of this type you can demonstrate to a client how much time and more importantly value you are bringing to the project based on the amount of time you will be spending on their build.

3. They help you keep track of yourself and your relationship with clients

It’s not easy to keep making those millionth amendments to drawings; timesheets allow you to accurately keep track of EXACTLY how long you are spending on particular projects and tasks. Sometimes you will need to reel yourself in and say that the limit is being reached on how many different variations can be made on a single area and there are those where you need to put in more time and effort due to the hours you’ve currently spent on their job.

4. You keep on top when you’re working hourly

It’s very easy to lose track of hours if you’re not keeping up to date with your time sheets. This is particularly important if you’re working on a multitude of projects and different states on different tasks. The client needs to to know exactly what you’re doing on his job and how long you’re spending on it – any doubt and you won’t get paid.

So how do I keep track?

My ‘Architects & designers’ Diary has a lovely area specifically for this purpose (below):


I also use the built-in time-log in Vectorworks to keep track of the projects as I work on them:


Therefore my ‘Timesheet Tips are:

  • Keep up to date with your time sheets, as you finish a task/project, log the time. There are some great apps out there that can now do this for you.
  • Make sure you log the project, the work stage and the task for every project
  • And if you’re the boss, analyse the data.

    So my conclusion is if you’re the boss; love the timesheets from your staff, work with them to make your business more profitable and if you’re an employee it’ll make your boss even happier.

    This is written from my perspective as an architect but the same ethos applies to virtually any business. If you can think of any more benefits, let me know – comments as always welcome…

  • 3 thoughts on “Why time sheets are important and why you should love them…

    1. Timesheets are a hassle, but a necessary one, as you point out. Since I started my current position, which allows me more direct access to “the biz”, I’ve become obsessed with my timesheets and where my time is being spent. I want to make sure that I’m helping the firm stay profitable while still producing good drawing sets and coordination for our clients.
      Excellent post.

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