Where Does the Time Go?

I’m a freelancer again!

I woke this morning and scrolled through my mental to-do list.  I recalled that I promised my friend/client that I’d look at a few chapters of her book before we meet tomorrow. “Charge us for that time,” she very kindly said.  No problem there!

Or… is there? I opened her Google doc invitation and spent a few minutes looking over a few pages. Was it “a few minutes?” Or twenty?  Something that is alternately a blessing (when I have many hours of work to plow through) and annoying (to anyone who has ever said heard me say, “just give me five minutes to finish this”) is that my internal clock has the habit of shutting down when I’m reading or writing.

Not the worst when you’re drawing a salary, but not the best when your time is literally going to be your money. I decided I should deal with this straight away.  In the past, I’ve kept an excel spreadsheet and tried to log my hours–having stretches of success.  But the truth is that both the real world and the internet are distracting places.  If I get distracted by a message and end up on Facebook for a minute (or ten?) I tend to err toward the safety of my clients–saving me guilt, but perhaps costing me money…or not? Who knows?

So today I’ve spent twenty minutes (really, like two hours) looking at some technical solutions to my problem, starting with this list of the best timekeeping solutions, and following up with some reviews of the options, I think I have it narrowed down to two low-cost solutions: Timely (free for one person and up to five projects), and Timing (one time fee of about $25, depending on where you buy it.)

Timing, which apparently tracks EVERYTHING you do on your computer, then lets you review it and sweep the appropriate activities into various project files, seems the most interesting to me. Probably the way fitness apps are to some people who want to know how many steps they’ve walked in a day, how long they were sitting or standing, I’d like to have data in order to be able to make good estimates about how quickly I can do things–from writing a blog post, to grading a paper, to writing screenplay… but I figure I should try out free first and see if it works or falls short.

Have you played around with any time-tracking apps?

 

Related: Another rundown of time-tracking apps.

 

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