To examine the labour process of teachers in further education we constructed a time-log diary in which lecturers recorded time spent on various activities undertaken during a week. In this article the authors explore the development of the time log, its use, and forms of analysis that arose as they sought to make sense of the data. The authors’ interest in this article is not so much in their findings but rather in an exploration of the way in which they sought to gather, analyse and interpret the data so as to illuminate the social conditions of lecturers’ labour. Their initial intent was to gather ‘hard’ statistical data, however the tension generated between over-specification of categories within the log and the different interpretations of participants led to alternative forms of analysis, in particular the cameo. This led the authors to consider refining the diary and using it alongside a series of cameos which would enable us to gather ‘hard’ statistical data whilst at the same time being able to set these against in-depth qualitative data. Such an approach enables the development of a richer understanding of the changing nature of work and the lived experience of those involved in further education.