Whilst studying for my youth work degree we were made to keep a timessheet which we’d submit weekly to our tutor and placement line manager. The aim was essentially to check we were doing the required number of hours.
When I started my full time youth worker job just over 3 years ago I stopped keeping a timesheet for that first year and a bit but started again about 2 years ago now and would advise every youth worker to do so…let me explain why.
In the year that I didn’t keep a timesheet I spent lots of my time filling time for the sake of it. My job is partly based around schools work and so during the holidays I felt the need to almost ‘create’ work even though during other weeks I’d done some crazy term time hours (or at least by body told me I hadn’t stopped working).
Since starting a timesheet I’ve found 2 things.
Firstly I do too many hours
Secondly I can comfortably take time off – My timesheet adds up hours I’ve over-done and carries them forward to the next week which means during school holidays or less busy weeks I work less and don’t feel guilty about it because I know that I work hard enough the rest of the time.
If you don’t keep a timesheet the new year is a good time to start…
It doesn’t take long - I probably spend about 2 minutes a day filling mine in.
You can explain how you use your time - If your line-manager, management committee or others ask what you actually do with your time you actually have a point of reference.
You can enhance the quality of your work - When we work too much the quality of what we do suffers. Keeping a timesheet can allow you to monitor what you do and know when it’s right to take on new projects.
Guilt-free time off! - It’s important that as youth workers we take a break. Keeping a timesheet allows you to comfortably take back time. It also lets you monitor when you’ve missed days off!
But I don’t have set hours!
This isn’t unusual. Sadly lots of church-based youth work positions don’t give you set hours. I’m in a position where mine does (and also specifies 2 days off a week). My advice is that you have a chat to your line manager and agree a sensible amount of hours to work towards and get it wrote into your contract. The average secular job is about 37.5 hours a week so that’s a good place to aim for.
So what’s your new year’s resolution? – I’d suggest you make it to keep a timesheet…whether it’s a fancy excel one (like the one on our useful forms page) or just in your paper diary.