Writing Tools: The Stopwatch

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Stopwatch2.
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I’m still alive. Honest!

Sometimes, working at home as a writer, we feel like we’ve been working all day – and yet seem to have less than we expected to show for it. All writers have off days of course, but I’m talking about the kind of “Hmm, where did the time go” post-day evaluation. The kind that makes you wonder if you were distracted all day.

I’ve been in that situation, recently. I feel like I’ve been pulling 12 hour days, but only have 4-6 hours worth of work to show for it. Even being organized, I was falling behind and clearly not getting the work done as planned.

So I invested in another free writing tool for time management: a stopwatch.

Remember how I talked about managing your time before? A stop watch is a great way to check yourself to see if you’re falling within the reasonable limits of time you’ve planned for writing. You can use a manual stopwatch on your cell phone, mini-clock, or watch, use an online stopwatch, or download one.

I’ve downloaded a stopwatch from TheXSoft.com, available here. It’s a very simple stopwatch that will allow you to pause and resume, as well as reset. It can also be set to always be on top, if it won’t get in the way of your windows.

The simple trick with the stop watch is to be honest with yourself: start it when you start working, and pause it when you get up to go to the bathroom, or tab over to Facebook, or give yourself that little 5 minute break that turns into 25 minutes instead. Keep a running tab throughout the day, and then check it against your expected work time.

I started this method last week, and sure enough, my first two days I was only pulling 4-6 hours. The rest of the week, I got back on track – because I was being honest with myself – and was putting in a regular 8 hours plus. I even put in 6 hours on Saturday!

So if you’re feeling distracted, try timing yourself, and let your honesty motivate you into working harder.

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