I remember reading Cheaper by the Dozen repeatedly as a kid. That chaos of 12 kids! And the idea of people having “efficiency expert” as a career. I love that! Sometimes people will ask me how I get so much writing/freelance work’done, and I really do love to play with efficiency. I tend to pack my days full of to-do lists, and I love to cross items off. This can be a good and a bad thing.
Anyway, one tool I love to use is slimtimer.com. It’s a computer-based time sheet. I open the web site and there’s a list of the tasks I’ve created. When I’m about to work on one project, I click on it, and the clock starts ticking. If I want to take a break, I just click the task again, and it stops counting. Come back from my break and work on something else? I just click the new project. Very simple.
What I love about slimtimer.com is that I can run all sorts of reports (I think I’m a statistician at heart). I can see how many hours I spent on each project in a given week, month, year, or whatever. I can look at three individual projects and see the hours spent on them. I can look at all the different projects I tagged as “work for hire,” for instance, and see how much of that kind of work in general I did in a time period. And on and on. I?use this info lots of different ways. Mainly:
1) to keep track of my time for hourly freelance work so that I can submit accurate timesheets/invoices.
2) to figure out the number of hours spent on flat-rate projects and determine the hourly rate I earned. This helps me know whether the project/publisher was financially rewarding for me (versus being personally rewarding, which is a whole other thing to consider).
3) to quantify how many hours a trade book project took so that I can answer the question at school visits (though of course, this time sheet really only reflects my BIC time, not my daydreaming, pondering, idea-generating while dishwashing time).
4) to see accurately how I’m dividing up my limited time each week and figure out where to make adjustments in my schedule. More promo time? Less writing time? Too much (ahem) blogging time? Slimtimer sees all and, more importantly, tells all. Which helps me see where I’m out of balance.
On the downside, Slimtimer is free and could disappear any time. I’ve been using it for years, but you should be aware it’s not a permanent record. Download reports!