120114_clockWelcome to December, the best time of year to look back at where the past year has gone — and where you want to go next year. I’m devoting this month’s posts to review and planning. I hope you find this helpful!

Tempus fugit

Where did your time go in 2014? I ask that question literally. How much time did you devote to serving clients (billable hours), administration, marketing? You do track your time, right? Whenever you’re sitting at your desk, you should be using some sort of time-tracking system, whether it’s a time clock like OfficeTime or a manual system like writing down each time you log on and off your computer. Electronic systems give you the advantage of tracking your time at a very detailed level. I track every minute of every day I spend at my desk, including time spent surfing the web. I have a “project” labeled “personal/unbillable” for time-wasting activities. Hey, I can’t be more productive if I don’t know how much time I’m wasting.

Fun with data

Some nurses love numbers. They are the ones who can calculate a drip rate on a paper towel during a power outage in the ICU. Other nurses hate numbers. They dislike having to calculate peds dosages based on weight in kilograms.

No matter which type of nurse you are, performing some easy mathematics with your time data can help you become more efficient as a freelance writer. An efficient freelance writer is a wealthy freelance writer. Let’s look at exactly how easy it is to manipulate your time-tracking data to reveal where you can become more efficient.

This is where bad time-tracking gets you

I was going to post my actual 2014 numbers regarding time tracking, but here’s a confession: I didn’t start fanatically tracking until September of this year. Prior to that I tracked only billable time. I found that approach less than useful. It’s great to know you put in 20 billable hours one month, but where did the rest of your time go?

Faced with that very question, I got strict with myself and began tracking every minute. Next year I will report my actual time tracking so you can see how this works. For now, I will use an example from October.

Check in here on Thursday to see my actual October numbers and discover why time tracking matters.

Wishing you well!