Yesterday I was focused. My writing went well. I spent the first two hours truly being productive.
Then the 5 Buck Forum broke. We got it fixed in a hurry, but it also broke my rhythm and my concentration. Although I did a bit more writing, after sending out two emails to members, and doing all the other tech and non-techie things one does when technology lets us down, I didn’t do much. In truth, yesterday I spend just two hours and 11 minutes writing.
How do I know this so exactly? I track my time.
I track my time to keep myself honest. It’s so easy to think I’ve spend much more time writing than I actually do. And sometimes I think I haven’t spent much at all. By tracking my time I know.
I track using Toggl. It’s an online tracking tool that’s so easy I actually use it most days. And it has a free version.
It not only tracks how I spend my time, but I can use that tracking for generating invoices. There are all sorts of other services and methods out there. I suggest you find one you like and will use.
Wasting time isn’t the real issue
Although some would disagree, the real issue for me isn’t about wasting time. I need down time or time when I’m fiddling with graphics instead of words, or time to stare out the window or pace while I work out something about the words I want to write.
You can’t always tell by watching me what I’m doing. The typing on the keyboard usually means I’m writing. The staring out the window is much harder to decipher.
It’s more about self-discipline
Since I don’t have an employer who can fire me, I’m the one who has to get the work done. Even though my clients can fire me, I’m still an independent contractor, a freelancer who is responsible for my own success or failure.
That’s a matter of self-discipline more than anything else. Sure, not wanting a commute and looking forward to a check from a client do motivate me, but habit more than motivation gets me to the computer five days a week.
I build in time wasting. Most weekends you’ll find me lolling around reading a novel at least half of either Saturday or Sunday. Sometimes I take a whole day off during the week, and not always to do something like a mediation retreat. I may go to the zoo or an art gallery or… well, you get the idea.
The success or failure of my writing career depends on me. On my self-discipline regarding my writing, my marketing and my business as a whole.
Those are all reasons I time myself. If I’m wasting time, I want to choose it, not do it unconsciously.
How do you keep track of your real writing time?