Saturday, June 1, 2013

Tracking Time & Keeping Time

When a writer figures out she's spending more time on the internet than writing, she's got an issue. A big one.

In my former job, I tracked my time to keep up with billable hours and kept a tally of hours of what I worked on when.

Using the same method, in 30 minute increments, instead of 15, I used a daily calender to track the actual time I'm spending writing and in doing other things.

Since I've starting tracking my time, my writing productivity has increased. I had no idea how much time I spent doing what. I was amazed when I tracked a few days to discover how much time I allowed to slip away.

I added the windows clock gadget to my desktop so that I can easily reference the time. The calendar that I use shows 1 day per page, with 24 one-hour time blocks. I drew a line down the middle of the page so that I can track the first half and second half of the hour.

For the first day, as embarassing as it is to share, my time in a 12-hour period included:
  • Phone = 2 hours
  • Cover Design = 1-1/2 hours
  • Internet = 1-1/2 hours
  • First Drafting & Writing Related = 4 hours
  • Breaks, Puppy play time, Meals = 3 hours
After I winced and flinched and cringed from this time-suck revelation, I disected the time spent.

Right off, I see limiting internet and designing covers for future books equated to 3 hours, added with phone time with several friends (after all writing is an isolated activity), the total now goes to 5 hours.

In looking at the time actually spent doing what and evaluating how to better manage my time, what if I space phone time with friends over several days. What if I talk with Person A today, Person B tomorrow, Person C, the next day, etc., limiting phone time to 1 hour per day.

Okay, I just gained another hour of writing time.

How about the 1-1/2 hours on the internet? How about limiting that to 1/2 hour during the work day, then unlimited after the 12 hour mark. Self says that's acceptable, so okay. Another hour salvaged.

In regard to cover design for future books, seeing possible covers helps me to get a better handle on the stories, but do I need to spend 1-1/2 hours ever day to do that, with the next story scheduled for several weeks in the future. Although I enjoy designing covers, the answer is: Not really.

So, in reviewing time spent, I reclaimed 3-1/2 hours of writing time. In the next few days, I will be experimenting with tracking my time and applying these changes in my behavior and actions.

Yep, I'm going to keep tracking time, because I plan to keep my time for the thing I want to do most. Write.

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