Yes, I know. I’ve been absent…but I’m back now, so enough with the wailing and gnashing of teeth, ok? Dentists are expensive.


Over the span of my career, I’ve had to deal with time-sheets, the bane of any creative. Essentially, time-sheets are documents where you enter the amount of time you’ve spent working on a brief, ostensibly for one or other bean-counter to “reconcile” or “audit” or whatever… On the one hand, this creates a job for the said bean-counter who would have otherwise been unemployed. On the other hand, it also damages the culture of an organisation.

Kitty Doesn't Care About Your Spreadsheet.

Kookoo Clock

You see, time-sheets are like those clocks factory workers punch in those old movies. Clock in at 9, clock out at 6. And let’s face it, those guys weren’t getting paid for performance…just for pitching up. To take this model and apply it to the world of creativity, is to take your creative bullpen and turn it into a factory floor.

Creatives spend more time thinking about their work than most people do. The briefs are in our subconscious and you’d be surprised at how many of us come up with that jaw-dropping home-run solution while in the shower or playing with the family dog or watching a movie or sitting in rush hour traffic… There is no way to actually quantify the amount of work that goes into any one creative solution (and time-sheets are probably the worst way to even try to measure it). All that can be measured is the effect the solution has on the problem.

With time-sheets, you’re actually encouraging your creative team to turn into clockwatchers, the type of people who will log overtime hours begrudgingly and become very aggrieved if you don’t start compensating them for it. After all, you’re paying them to present, not to be productive. And as a measure of performance, well, you can’t cut someone from the team if he’s logging the hours you set for him.

Do away with time-sheets and you do away with chancers and clockwatchers. Do away with time-sheets and you’ll attract (and keep) the cream of the creative crop. I’m willing to bet that, without time-sheets, your organisation will outstrip your competition by a country mile, simply because your people will want to be there and will want to work harder for you because you’ve show trust in their abilities and their professionalism.

The question is: are you brave enough to give up that control?


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