Has anyone considered revising the current seasonal rules to look at a weekly system? This would involve a slight re-working of perspective for some lab activities, so that rather than saying "Time is a constant, the amount of work you can do is variable", you'd consider "The amount of work you can do is Constant, how long will it take". For others, it's just changing what measure of time is used.
Cost - more arithmetical complication
Benefit - less rigid, more "realistic" time management; closer integration of magi lab work to mundane activities and adventuring
Another consideration - no die rolling for most lab activities means no lab botches. I'm keen to reinstate this element of chance, not least because for most Magi it will be a minor factor in the overall lab total but allows for the randomness inherent in all human endeavour (and as we're repeatedly told, Magic is an art not a science).
I'm thinking along the lines of including both these house rules for lab work, and then taking a season to be 15 weeks. So that if in one Season, a maga has a lab total of 30, now they generate a lab total of 30+d10, which is divided by 15 to see how much they accomplish in a week. Or something like that.
As ever, the infernal regio is in the detail....
I seem to remember that the old 4th edition Triamore supplement had suggested rules for lab work on this basis. We didn't use them in our 4th edition saga.
Working by season is a nice simple conceit. We have four bites of the cherry each game year to advance our characters. And we know that in any given season we get ten days "adventuring" time after which our studies/work suffers. This makes the activities and the book-keeping easy.
By raising the unit of measurement from four per year to 52 per year you do tend to complicate the book-keeping if not the maths.
I don't think anyone's going to stop you from having a go and seeing if you can make it work but it's not something I'd go for. It's just too fine a level of detail.
As for the element of chance, we do already have that in terms of the experimentation rules. I like to think that the lack of chance in the main lab rules is down to the magus doing things properly.
Covenants also provides rules for determining how your magus' behaviour and attitude towards his lab work affects the outcome. For instance, he could choose to work all the hours he can but he suffers a penalty on his next ageing roll through exhaustion.
Try to get hold of the 4th edition Trianmore book. It has just what you want IIRC. I never paid it much attention, but it is there for sure, at the back.
I second that suggestion, though like Mark we haven't used them ourselves either.
I know the seasonal division is artificial but I think it is an improvement that 5th edition at least acknowledges this and does quite a bit to remind us that even if we call them thus we dont have to play them like that. Especially the description of the companions' downtime does this.
I actually permit my players to divide their seasonal activity up by months, if chosen. I use the rules provided for partial seasons where there are interruptions that reduce the effectiveness of work. I consider this a fair extrapolation of their original intent.
It does require more calculation. If a player wants to do one month of work, they calculate their total normally and then multiple by one-third . If they do 2 months of work on a project, they multiple by two-thirds. It seems to work for us.