Forms are NOT rocket science, or are they?


I said to my colleague yesterday at work “I’m going to blog this.”  He laughed and said I should.  Why?  Because he, like me, cannot figure out how it can become so difficult for people in general, of all levels of intellect, to complete a form correctly. EVEN simple forms.  Times sheets… Date, start time, end time, break taken, reason for extra work (this is because an employee ONLY has to complete a time sheet when they are requested to work outside their normal duty days/hours),…. HOW DIFFICULT?  Yet 1 out of 2 timesheets submitted to me is wrong!  I do wages where I work.  I process the pay for over 100 people every two weeks and the frustration with incorrect time sheets is constant.

“It’s not rocket science..” I wail every week.  My colleague when he first joined my office  thought I was over-reacting.  But 2 years later he agrees that to complete a basic straightforward time sheet is indeed akin to rocket science.  In fact we agreed yesterday that we could probably build a rocket with more accuracy than these people can complete said form.  Prime example is one I had this week.  Date – this was correct (it isn’t always, and sometimes not even present). Start time 0700.  So far so good.  Break begins.  not completed.  O-oh! here we go.  Break ends. 1300.  Ok, so said person started at 7am and was on a break until 1300?  That’s how I’d read it. Finish time. 1700.  Ok, so work from 1300 to 1700 even though they arrived at 0700. Obviously this wasn’t true.  The company is not so reckless as to pay for people to have a morning off.  Then “reason for extra work”, the response was “I didn’t do any extra only what I should have after I started and I had an hour break. ”

SO, you complete a timesheet ONLY when you’re asked to do extra… but this person didn’t …yet did.  Then they didn’t start a break but had a hour.  No actual reason for extra work (such as managers request, or late due to road hold-ups, or working a rest day).   And to top it off the person signed where the manager should sign, leaving the employee signature space free.!! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

But, time sheets are not the only thing affected by my human kinsmen’s inability to follow basic written instructions.

Diary forms… An A4 sheet of paper with a list of descriptions for diaries and wall calendars for next year.  Beside each singular boxed description is a box.  We all know the sort – a grid table with a list of options and corresponding boxes to selct item/quantity.  Easy.  Above the end column is stated in bold letters “please enter quantity required next to the required item”.


No, it is not.!!!  The human brain can get around building super computers.  It can mesh synapses together to create the vision of new buildings, planes, surgical equipment, even build rockets… but cannot cope with the instructions of ‘pick the ones you want and tell me… in a single number… how many you would like’!!

From 11 forms returned, I received 1… that’s ONE… correctly completed.  This is from the MD downwards to the lowly admin clerk… ONE fricking form was correct.  And this year I wrote the name on the top for them as last year I soon learned they couldn’t cope with adding that information and 4 forms were returned anonymously. Ok, so we have named forms and upon return some had a tick by the required item suggesting that the person wanted one of that item.  Incorrect completion but I can live with that.  But some……… one had by the red a5 page per day diary the number 2.  So far so good.  however, next to that was a note in miniscule writing *can I have 1 as A4 though*…. Yes, if you ticked or marked or wrote a ‘1’ in the box next to the “Red A4 page per day diary”.  The next one…. No boxes ticked but a note along the bottom “I want 2 black big ones and a black small one”.  Now, are you serioulsy telling me that a) a person working in an office environment on a daily basis doesn’t know what A4/A5/A6 is for size and b) can’t possibly read a list of options and choose the appropriate option – let alone mark it with a number?!!!!

But the classic form I have issues with is the ‘personal details for file’ form.

There is a section each for

Name:Address:post code:landline telephone:mobile number:email.  The sections are boxed and nice little lines eminate from each category to guide the writers to fill in the appropriate information next to the appropriate title.

But ALAS this is rocket science at it’s best……

Employee example 1)

Name = John.  (Sorry, my fault, with over 150 employees I should have known which John.  I will alter it to state FULL name)

Employee example 2)

Address = (this is a made up example of the actual), 150, Range Road.  Now, I think said person is being awkward for the fun of it but which Range Road in which town in which of 3 likely counties should I choose.

Employee Example 3

Address, postcode and mobile number were all squashed onto the address line and then postcode and mobile number has a cross beside them.

And the best

Employee example 4 is further down the form…

Next of Kin:

our employee put ……..Name? no.  Maybe a contact number? No. Our wonderful employee put, I’m not Scottish so I don’t have kin I have a wife though.

I’ll leave you all with the question ‘is filling out a basic form harder than rocket science?’ and I’m sure many will have their own experiences to tell………………………….

From my experience, filling out simple forms is indeed more difficult than rocket science…………………