I just downloaded the free program MANICTIME because I wanted to keep track of how my time is spent when I'm on the computer or during a work day.
To be more honest, I wanted to see how much time I wasted on Facebook, surfing the web, on email, instead of writing.
I found what looked like a very nice program called Rescue Time, but there was a charge to download it. So I googled and googled until I found this free program called ManicTime that keeps track of the webpages I go to and how much time I spend on each one.
What I liked about Rescue Time was that I thought you could set a time limit on certain websites (say, no more than 10 minutes a day on Facebook) and when you reached your limit, it sent you a note saying so.
However, I've noticed just having the program running makes me more conscious about how I'm spending my time as I know it will be documented in graphs and I do not want to check them at the end of the week to find I've spent 3 hours on Facebook or what not.
If you try this program, I recommend watching the 3 short videos on how it works. It really helped me with "tagging" my time to help me understand what I was doing. For example, if I'm working with a poet, I mark that time "professional, mentoring" or if I'm doing work for Crab Creek Review, I mark it, "professional, CCR." If I'm just messing around the web, I tag it as "browsing, wasting time." Seriously, I have created the tag "wasting time" for those times when I'm just well, wasting time.
Also, if after 10 minutes you don't do anything on the computer, it's marked as "not active" and you can add in other tags so you know what you were doing. For example, you can say "Family time" or "social" or even "personal" or "domestic chores." I will also have "writing" and "submitting." You make your own tags so you can focus on what's important to you.
Currently, in the last two days,
I have spent the most time with
Family Time at 11 + hours
Social Time 4.5 hours
Mentoring 2.5 hours
Blogging 1.3 hours
I'm really interested in seeing how much time I spend writing vs. screwing around when September comes. I realize these next two weeks will mostly be about getting ready for back to school and some activities, but I think when I kick back into writing, this can be a very useful tool to make sure I'm back on track.
Again, this is such a Capricorn thing to do, but knowing I'm going to be held accountable by this graph and that I'm going to have to look the hours I spent wasting time in the face, will help me.
I am the person who comes back from vacation and steps on the scale. I want to know if I've screwed up and fix it. I want to know when the details of things and do not subscribe to the ignorance is bliss theory except when it comes to the nightly news.
I once took a class on stress and my defensive mechanism for stress was action (instead of distraction, avoidance, or addiction). I think this program is my action to fix what's wrong in my writing life. I'm not saying there's something wrong, but I do know I was more lax last year than the year before, and more lax than the year before that.
This isn't to say I'm not writing or doing anything, it's just to say I know I can do better. I know I've been wasting time and I don't want to anymore.
If you try this program, let me know how it works for you. I've only been doing it two days, but I think it will be helpful for me because even if I don't "tag" my time, my computer now keeps track of all my online browsing, where I've been and for how long. If anything, that's a good indication on how productive I've being.