Is Big Brother Watching You?

One of the items I have begun to find helpful is a timer, which I use to actually keep track of how much time I spend, on what per day.

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One of the items I have begun to find helpful is a timer, which I use to actually keep track of how much time I spend, on what per day. (The service I use for this is free. More on that later, but you can see the website here if you’re impatient).

This probably sounds crazy to some people (particularly men, I bet). But think about it for a second. There are a few aspects to this.

1. Is Big Brother Watching You?

Okay, face the facts. Working at home, we don’t have a boss looking over our should. Great! Right? Well, actually, there are a lot of benefits to the no-boss scenario. If you have enough motivation and persistence to succeed at all in a work-at-home scenario, you might be one of those types of people who doesn’t need a boss. Some people do better without a boss. I am one of those types – I generally find it a waste of time, when I know what needs to be done, to have to also convince someone else of why I should be doing that and why I am not going to do something else right now. But that’s me. And even the best of us can occasionally have trouble with self-discipline.

When you are working at home, you have to keep your own discipline in and stay on track. It can be easy to waste time on low-priority (or lower-priority) tasks instead of just grinding your teeth and doing what needs to be done – now.

By keeping a record of how much time you spend on different projects or tasks can help you keep yourself on track – even if it is approximate. At the end of the week, if you wonder why you still aren’t making money, look at your stats. Oh, you spent 60% of your time handling emails and reading promotions, 20% buying new products and reading eBooks, 10% in Facebook and Twitter, and the other 10% randomly surfing the net. Gee I wonder what’s wrong, why oh why aren’t you making any money yet?

Obviously all of the above activities are needed, and some are vital. But there are balances and priorities in all things.

2. Analyze Your Time

Self-discipline might not be your problem. If you are highly motivated and focused and enjoy doing what needs to be done, this might not be the issue. But what about analysis?

At the end of the day, or evening, do you ever feel like you were busy the whole time, always doing something important, but if someone would ask you what you got done online today, they would be met with a blank stare?

That’s where analysis comes in. Take a deep breath, look back over your time statistics (how much time you have spent on which types of tasks), and see what’s going on.

You can then streamline and strategize. If one particular task is eating 40% of your day, perhaps a new software or tool will help you cut that time in half. If you spent 60% of your time researching, writing, and submitting your articles, maybe its time to start outsourcing your article writing, as well as signing up with an article distribution service.

Or you might see that it takes forever to get through your inbox, and that it’s time to get a Gmail account, set it up in conjunction with all your email accounts, and streamline it.

There are infinite possibilities for how you can streamline certain tasks or aspects of your business. Analyzing the sore spots can give you an idea of where to start.

How does this work?

It is pretty simple. When you start working, you start your timer. If you use a service like mine, you can set your projects and tasks up ahead of time. For example:

Projects:

  • Misc Email Handling
  • Article Writing
  • Article Submissions
  • Keyword Research
  • Site Flipping
  • Website A
  • Website B
  • Website C
  • Etc.

Tasks (which can be assigned to each applicable project:

  • Blog Installation and Configuration
  • Blog Design
  • Website Design
  • Blog Posts (Writing and Posting)
  • Image Editing
  • Etc.

Select the project and task you are working on, click “Start.” When you are done with that task, you can add a little note with more specifics and log your time. Then go onto the next task. The timer is fast to start and stop and is not distracting.

Benefits

  1. At the end of the week, or the day, you can see at a glance where your time went. You can click on a specific project or task, and see that you really did spend 61.37 hours fussing around with your WordPress themes this week 😯  .
  2. Another possibility is that you will see that you have been using your time wisely, you will have a record of what you accomplished that week, and you will stop banging yourself in the head for not getting it all done yesterday.
  3. Even better – One month you notice that your income or traffic has gone up considerably. You want to analyze what you did right, so that you can repeat and strengthen it. Having these records will help a lot. But remember, your successful actions may have occurred a month or even two months before the income was generated. As some actions have a lag before they take effect.
  4. An amusing side-benefit of this is that it helps keep multi-tasking in check (to some degree, at least). I know multi-tasking can waste a lot of time, but sometimes I can’t restrain myself. Often I am in the middle of doing some boring-snoring (but important) task, when I suddenly realize that there was something much more interesting I had been meaning to look up. I am about to divert off my task to go into Never-Never land, when I remember that I am “on the timer” for what I am doing. And, rather than stop and start my timer while I go off in all directions at once, I might as well finish what I am doing first …

What I Use

The service I use is called Freshbooks. Freshbooks is an excellent invoicing and time-tracking service. Basic Membership is free. It is actually an invoicing service for Freelancers and small businesses. It allows you to input data on your clients, input the different services you have performed, and send them professional invoices by email or snail mail. Clients can also log in to view their invoice online, and can pay directly via Paypal, credit card, or a host of other options (depending on what you set up.) It also allows you to keep track of expenses, time and bill your work for clients (if you charge an hourly wage), brand your invoices with your own professional logo, track time of employees or outsourcers who are working for you, creating estimates, and a whole lot more. But I mainly use it for invoicing and time-tracking (“internal” time tracking does not have to be associated with a client’s project).

Freshbooks is one of my favorite membership websites and is a very useful and time-saving tool.

So this is my second and hopefully not my last post on the subject of time. Again, I would love to have feedback on what time-saving strategies and tools you have used. Let me know if you have any questions on this post, or if there is a particular area which you are having trouble with.

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11 Responses to “Is Big Brother Watching You?”

  1. Jessica Routier, IAC-EZ
    March 2, 2009 at 11:41 am #

    Great article!

    At IAC-EZ, we love Freshbooks too! (Which is why we have integrated our online bookkeeping application with them!!) Might I add that their customer service is THE BEST!!

  2. peter@dance
    March 3, 2009 at 2:27 pm #

    I don’t use freshbooks yet but sounds kinda interesting. so thank you for the post.

    peters last blog post..Party im GROOVE INFERNO Djs Sonar & Curv – BACK IN BERLIN

  3. Anna
    March 4, 2009 at 2:41 pm #

    Yes that is a good point. In fact, every time you log out you are led to a little form where you can give feedback – whenever I leave feedback I usually get an email response about the points I brought up!

  4. Anna
    March 5, 2009 at 1:52 am #

    @ money making ideas – I almost didn’t publish your comment because it looked generic – was that an actual comment or were you using a robot/software? Your website has a nice design.

  5. money making ideas
    March 4, 2009 at 8:07 pm #

    wow sounds really interesting. thanks for sharing such great insights!

  6. Jake
    March 6, 2009 at 1:01 am #

    Hi Anna, first visit to your blog! I’ll be subscribing, good info!

    Freshbooks is something I’m going to definitely have to check out! I’ve seen others talk about it and i’ve GOT to do something haha! Maintaining several websites can be a headache of you’re not organized!

    Thanks

    Jakes last blog post..YOUR Website And How Others VIEW It!

  7. Anna
    March 7, 2009 at 9:49 am #

    @ money making ideas – Oh, that’s good! There are a lot of people posting generic comments with bots, so any time I see a comment that looks like it could apply to numerous blogs, I get careful. 🙂 But I had a feeling you were a real person! Thanks for visiting and I hope to see you again.

  8. Anna
    March 7, 2009 at 9:54 am #

    @ Jake – Hey, thanks! I hope the blog will be useful for you. I know what you mean about having a lot of websites. Wow! They are like kids!

  9. money making ideas
    March 7, 2009 at 9:31 am #

    hello Anna. = ) I’m not using a robo software. I was really the one posting my comments. And I am actually looking forward for your other posts because I feel I am learning a lot. I’m into web content writing, internet marketing and link building. I was actually reading your posts and I am putting them to good use. Thanks for appreciating our web site! 😀

  10. Cartier Tank
    October 21, 2009 at 8:45 am #

    I don’t use freshbooks yet but sounds kinda interesting

  11. Ruri @ Free online article directory
    December 3, 2009 at 6:57 am #

    I actually like to have home based business. but having freelancing is not really good. I know that people like to become freelance since it can have freedom to choose the time to go for work. but most freelance work over time.
    .-= Ruri @ Free online article directory´s last blog ..The Best Film Evaluations Obtainable For Your Enjoyment =-.

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