As a freelance writer or business owner, you need to make sure you use your time wisely. That means tracking how much you spend doing different activities.
I’ve recently changed the way that I track my time, and I’ve found it really helps to keep me on schedule and stops me from procrastinating as much. In fact, today I managed to finish three hours earlier than I normally do, so spend some time setting up some products on Zazzle to start selling!
It can be difficult to get used to tracking time, so I’m going to share my current method.
Open an Excel Spreadsheet
It’s really easy to get started. You don’t need any specialist software or expensive programming to do this. Microsoft Excel is perfect.
- Create a spreadsheet with the following headings:
- Date (you need to know what date you’re tracking for)
- Activity so you know what you’ve done
- Time started
- Any breaks you’ve taken just so you know how you’ve spent the time
- Time finished
- Total time spent (this is a simple formula taking the time started away from the time finished to know how long you’re really spending on activities)
Add in the Times
As soon as you start working on a project, add in the time that you started. Then add in the time as soon as you’ve finished or whenever you take a break. When taking a break, just calculate the length of time that you were away (taking away the start time from the beginning time).
It’s worth adding details of the project, such as the research needed, word count and other factors so you can see just how long it takes you to do things.
Focus on Getting the Time Down
Now it’s time to focus on spending most of your time working. Be honest with yourself, and note down how long you spend on Facebook, Twitter or any other procrastination. That way you know whether you need to start finding ways to work more productively.
It’s also worth noting down each break you take and make sure you take them regularly. You want to aim to take a five minute break every hour. I tend to average it to a 10 minute break every 90 minutes or so because that’s how I prefer to work. I’ll then take at least an hour for lunch and step away from the computer; usually to spend time with my daughter.
It takes a while to get used to tracking your time, but it really is worth it. Once you find a method that really works for you, you’ll find that tracking becomes second nature and you procrastinate less.
What method do you use for tracking your time? Why not share your tips below?