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Do you want to spend more time writing?

Advice for writers who are just starting out

Do you want to spend more time writing?

Do you want to spend more time writing? Do you know what you do with your time? Estimating how much time you spent doing something in the past or how much time it will take to do something in the future is notoriously unreliable. If you’re trying to find more time to do something you care about, time tracking is a fab tool, as it highlights the points in your day when you could ditch something else (social media? TV?) to do the thing you want to do. This post will help you to track your time. Scroll down to access the ‘small steps’ time tracker.

Track your energy

The time tracker not only shows you what you’re doing with your time, it shows you where your energy levels dip, and if you manage to fill it in for seven days you’ll get a sense of when you got distracted and what distracted you. For instance, when I first decided to dedicate a couple of hours to writing first thing in the morning – and go to bed earlier – the time tracker allowed me to keep a check on those times. The first week I did this I managed 3 early mornings out of 5 – I don’t count weekends – which I saw as a success.

How to use the Small Steps Time Tracker

  1. If you’re using the Excel version of the time tracker, you can adapt the times in the left hand column to suit your needs.
  2. Print out the time tracker and keep it in front of you so you remember to fill it in as you go – it’s easy to forget what you did if you try to fill this in retrospectively.
  3. I added ‘what I ate and drank’ so that I could keep a track of how that affects my energy levels – but you can leave that out of course. (I was especially keen to make sure I kept reaching for the water.)
  4. I’ve also added ‘energy level’ and ‘GTTW?’ (Good time to what?) so you can add when you hit a slump or were full of beans, plus whether you think that particular time period would be a good time to do what you need to do. It might be that you don’t have much of a choice here. For instance, when I was on maternity leave I got to do my thing when our son was asleep (unless I was too knackered or cooking etc.) or when my partner took him swimming. It was much much harder while he was awake and we were in the same house! And I think my energy levels ranged from tired to very very very tired. When he got older I could write a blog post while he played, or do an online shopping order, but nothing more complicated. Nowadays we can work happily along side each other as long as I pause to answer questions every so often. Adapt as you see fit.
  5. Colour-code activities if you like, but I found that quickly scrawling things down and keeping it messy meant that the time tracker itself didn’t become too much of a distraction.
  6. Add stuff that’s important to you. I eventually added meditation and yoga, for example, although I don’t need to track any more.
  7. Do a week at a time. Track for 5 days, with weekends off. Then breathe. Stop for a bit – this is definitely meant to be a non-maniacal time tracker! Repeat over another week or two over a six week period, but don’t do it all the time.
  8. Review what you’ve got. Where are the distractions? Where do your energy levels dip? Have you got more energy in the morning or evening?

By the way, if you want more on this idea, Kate Northrup has written about hourly time tracking and the 80 / 20 rule in this blog: ‘6 simple steps to ensuring you’re not wasting your precious time‘.

Download your free Small Steps Time Tracker below. You need to make five copies to track for a week. (You get the weekend off.)

Time tracker (PDF Version)

Time tracker (Excel Version)

Let me know how you get on in the comments.

Until then, happy writing,

Louise xx

P.S. I still have some of the ‘time to write’ book marks (in the picture) left. If you’d like one, go here.


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