Everyone does it, there’s been a long day at work and the last thing you can do is muster the time to write for hours. So you sit, wind down, and suddenly it’s time to call it a night. So how can you improve your writing time and stop wasting time? Here are four time killers, and the results of what happens if you just reduce the time you waste, not necessarily remove it. After all, everyone needs a breather.
1) The Internet – It’s the beast that will kill your every free minute if you let it. In fact, a recent release from eMarketer found this year the bridge has finally been crossed; the average US adult will spend more time on digital devices such as mobile and online activity than TV, Radio, Print, or other mediums. If you take a second to realize Facebook won’t collapse entirely if you visit it less, you can save some serious time. Let’s do some quick math as an example of tracking your time. Let’s say you find you spend 15 minutes a day on Facebook. And we’ll take seven days off under the assumption that you take some time off, or have some completely frenetic days where it’s just not an option. That’s 5,400 minutes, or 90 hours a year. Spend five minutes on Facebook a day? That reduces time by 60 hours. 60 hours of time saved instantly by commenting on a few less cat videos.
2) Meetings – Make no mistake, writers need support and creating a base of writing friends can be absolutely pivotal to a successful career. Having said that, meeting up with writing groups time and time again for extended periods of time are hours lost that you could be writing. Let’s look at a writing group that meets once a week for an hour and a half. Add in 15 minutes there and back, there’s two hours gone per week. Even if you skip 10 meetings a year, that still puts you at 84 hours of time talking, not writing. So what happens if meetings are reduced to one hour with a clear set agenda to avoid too much meandering, and meet every other week instead, you’re reduced to 63 hours. That’s giving you back almost a full day of writing.
3) TV and Video Games – It’s the obvious answer, but there’s a reason this one comes up time and time again. It becomes easy to binge, especially with Netflix and Hulu offering more programming than can be watched in a lifetime. Let’s return to the eMarketer report. The average is 4 hours and 31 minutes per day. Per day! Let’s say you’re lower than that. Let’s look at a few scenarios. If you look at the average of 271 minutes of TV per day, that equals to 98,915 minutes, or almost 1,649 hours per year. Let’s see how much time one hour less of TV time gains in this scenario: Reducing just one hour per day gives you 365 hours of time back. If you limited yourself to one, solid two-hour, chunk per night (one good movie, a few episodes of TV, or some solid gameplay), that’s 730 hours versus 1,649 hours at the national average. Do the math, 919 hours is almost 23 workweeks worth of time. Weeks, not days.
4) Interruption – According to an article on Monster.com, the average employee works for 11 minutes before being distracted or interrupted by another task…SQUIRELL! Another article says the average person gets distracted an average of 10 times at work, resulting in 10 minutes of lost time per day. If you’re researching a novel while writing a short story and blogging and managing social media, your time is being wasted. Focus your time. 10 distractions a day at 10 minutes apiece is 100 minutes of lost time per day. Let’s go with a little less, as you’re probably not writing 40 hours a week if you have a full time job to pay the bills. Let’s say you can average 20 hours per week of writing, a few evenings and a good blitz over the weekend. The same ratio of distractions results in 5 distractions, meaning you lose 50 minutes per day. So if you write 5 days a week, remove two weeks of vacation, sick time, etcetera, you are looking at 208 lost hours per year.
Let’s get dramatic and show you results infomercial style:
1) Reduce Internet Use by 30 minutes per day: 182.5 hours.
2) Reduce Writing Group Meetings by 30 minutes and hold every other week: 53 hours.
3) Reduce TV use by one hour per night: 365 hours.
4) Focus on singular projects to avoid e-mail, distractions, and interruptions: 208 hours.
Grand Total: 808.5 hours saved per calendar year.
I’ll be the first to raise my hand and call a bit extreme on this figure. However, that’s over 20 full time workweeks recovered. So you may not be able to reduce all of these, or not see such reduction. However, you see how much time adds up and takes away from the things you truly love. Are you actually going to be depressed because you watched a TV show in its entirety over a four-month span instead of two? Will your friends believe you’re dead if you log onto you personal e-mail once a day?
What are you going to do to save time? How much time will it give you? Chime in with the comments section. The conversation’s always live on Twitter @ThomasAFowler, use the hash-tag #WritersConquest. As always, keep checking my official website for the latest updates. Thanks so much for taking on the Writer’s Conquest.