Did you hear about that ginger boy on the Ellen show, that Apparently Kid? What about Paris’ Hilton’s latest play-pretty: 15 grand for a white fluff puppy, the size of a Furby? What about the latest viral video on YouTube or the most recent pin loves on your Writer’s Wishes Pinterest board? If you can answer “yes” to any or, heavens to Betsy, all of these questions, I have news for you: you are wasting your productivity on things with little or no intrinsic value for your success as a content writer.
As freelance writers, we commonly hear this phrase followed by the quiet assumption that we aren’t really working. Yes, the bills might get paid by freelance writers but, for most outsiders, there is a disconnect between working online and earning a living. It’s just the nature of the beast, and most freelance writers have come to a mutual understanding that they will simply never be truly understood.
No biggie. But these outsiders do have a point here.
My writer comrade, let’s get down to brass tacks. Even when you are “working,” chances are you are not always on point. Say you take a “5 minute break” on Facebook in between assignments, which leads you to take quizzes about your bookish personality, followed by being lost in an overseas adventure photographed by some girl you think you had Spanish 101 with in junior college. Back to writing, 5 plus 55 minutes later, then it’s crunch time to get through your next paid project. Need to unwind after a whirlwind session of writing? Why not dream away with your Pinterest story board, a great excuse for any writer looking to waste precious writing time on the next great American novel.
Don’t do Facebook or Pinterest? Replace these with Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, personal blogs, business blogs, niche websites, Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, Huffington Post, NPR, your email accounts…
You get the drift.
While each of these social media outlets can provide valuable information, resources and social connections, they can just as easily turn into vampirish time-sucks. Of course there are remedies to resolve the nature of the beast:
- Wall calendars
- Scheduling apps
- Daily planners
- Productivity apps
But what if you aren’t even sure that you are losing time on nonessential computer processes? The first step to any change is to become concretely aware of what you are doing at this very moment. For those with productivity concerns, this involves counting precisely how many minutes you are spending on each computer program. Well, if you are already struggling with staying productive, this task in and of itself will just add to your productivity woes.
Enter into the picture a productivity analyzing program.
Rescue Your Time
I’ve discovered a productivity tool that could possibly revolutionize the way writers work and play on their computer—RescueTime. As with most apps and programs these days, RescueTime comes in a lite (aka free) version, as well as an upgradable Premium version that costs $9 a month or $72 a year. Once you sign up with this program, you start by selecting three tasks that are productive and three that are not, such as:
Productive tasks include:
- Design/composition aka Word processing
- Reference/learning aka Google
- Communication/schedule aka email
Non-productive tasks include:
- Social networking
- Stalking that cute actor from the season premiere of Elementary
As you work throughout the day, this program analyzes your every move, showing you exactly how much time you have spent on every single program on your computer. Once you have nailed down those productivity killers, you can become more aware of your actual time spent working and playing.
Now, as for how you are going to end your scatterbrained self, check out the overachieving blogger, Leo Babauta’s unproductivity lectures, Zen Habits.
Trying diligently to practice what she preaches, Miranda B is a freelance writer who can answer “yes” to those questions at the top here, mind you while making money doing so.