Consultancies and larger companies usually make you fill out a timesheet recording what you have done each day. There is often pressure to fudge or lie so that it looks like you are super-productive and your manager is amazingly accurate at predicting how long each task will take you.

Classic lies are booking time to projects that you don’t even work on, and booking that 4-hour whole-company meeting to a customer project.

I would recommend that you fill in your timesheet as honestly and accurately as you can. If you have wasted all day in pointless meetings, say so.

Timesheets have two main purposes:

  1. Allow managers to see what you have been spending time on and how productive you are.
  2. Allow project managers to see how much time has been spent on their project, against the amount that was allocated (and paid for).

The pressure to lie comes from the second of these. Unfortunately, the same data is often used for the first, meaning that your lies can end up shooting yourself in the foot.

Even if the system is only used for project management, gathering fictitious data might make it easy to bill the clients what we quoted them this time, but it completely hides our inability to quote accurately. Gathering honest data on how long each project actually took would be really useful, but most companies are completely missing this opportunity.