On any given day, I am managing a lot of different online brands for both myself and my clients. And there are times when I feel completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work I often take on. While there are days when I think I've bitten off more than I can chew, I also realize that I do wind up wasting a lot of time in the day.
I've pointed out before how working from home is more difficult than working a traditional job. For freelancers, every second counts. We're often not paid when going to the bathroom, grabbing a quick bite, or taking a five-minute break. If you're not writing for a client, you're not getting paid.
This means freelancers need to be experts at time management in order to achieve a certain level of success. In my case, it was all about writing for a minimum of six hours per day. This is the actual time I sat at my desk and worked on client content. Using my writing spreadsheet, I was able to see a lot of holes in the day that could be easily plugged up.
It also showed just how intense working from home can be.
Tracking My Time Through the Spreadsheet
Since I started as a freelancer back in 2012, I've been keeping track of every minute and every word of every piece of content I write for clients. A few years later, I decided to start tracking words I write for myself as well. Because in reality, every article you write only improves your abilities overall. Well, as long as you're putting into practice everything you learn, which I also track "educational" time.
This spreadsheet has been exceptionally helpful when it comes to pricing out my services. I have an accurate portrayal of how long it'll take me to finish any given project, whether it's a blog post or creating a tutorial video.
I only keep track of actual production time. So, when I stand up to go to the bathroom, I "stop the clock." Because going to the bathroom isn't writing content for clients.
When you start closely monitoring every single minute of actual work time, you start to see just how much time you waste. Can you imagine if most businesses used the same kind of model? I wonder how much of an uprising this would cause in certain circles and unions?
Anyway, the crux of using the spreadsheet lets me know just how productive I truly am. In this instance, every minute counts.
I keep telling myself I'm going to develop a program on the computer to replace the spreadsheet. Other freelance writers might find it useful. But that is a task well outside of my scope of time. Recently, I found the cap of what I can do on any given day and know that I cannot add another project without truly burning myself out.
Still, it's something I've been toying with and even found the software to help me build it last weekend.
Large Chunks of Time Missing
One of the most valuable elements of this spreadsheet is the ability to see just how much time I'm actually working on various projects throughout the day. Since I monitor the percentage of my time actually working and pit it against the traditional, 8-hour day, I can tell you that it's quite difficult to hit 100%. At least it is for me.
There are days when I think to myself, "why is my time so low today?" I look back at the spreadsheet and see that, yep, I spent an hour watching YouTube after lunch and ran to the store at 3:00 pm. That can easily wipe out more than 20% of the day.
Why don't I work in the afternoons to ensure I hit 100%? Because on days when I do exceptionally well, I am incredibly burned out after 5:00 pm.
Seriously, I sit in front of a monitor for the vast portion of my day. My eyes start burning and my brain feels like mush. This is why a lot of my live streams on WriterSanctuary's YouTube channel lack energy. By the time I go live, I'm simply wiped out.
At any rate, using the spreadsheet allows me to see the huge chunks of time that go missing throughout the day. So, I really have no one to blame but myself. I could go shopping after work, and I surely didn't need to spend an hour watching videos not related to improving myself or my career path.
Am I as Overloaded as I Think?
I'm constantly under pressure to get as much done as I can on any given day. I'm trying to balance five blogs, three YouTube channels, a Twitch stream, writing my second book, helping a friend edit hers, and finishing my daily tasks for my client. Needless to say, that's a lot of stuff.
However, at least after setting aside blocks of time in Asana, I should be able to accomplish everything throughout the week with no problem. That is as long as I stick to the schedule and keep myself productive each day.
Now, also keep in mind that I do schedule enough time to have two, 15-minute breaks and a 30-minute lunch. Though, these aren't tracked in the spreadsheet because I'm not getting paid for that time. So, don't worry...I make sure I have adequate downtime throughout the day.
Still, if I don't get everything done, I start to stress. This is because I want so much for everything I'm working on outside of client work. And while I consider the idea that perhaps I'm just taking on too much, what it really boils down to is not keeping myself productive.
The days when I start to feel overwhelmed are the days when I work less than 70% of my day. To put it into perspective, that means I wasted at least 2.4 hours between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.
That's enough to make any employer balk.
Long story short, no, I don't think I'm nearly as overloaded as I feel sometimes. This is because of the amount of time I do wind up melting away over trivial, non-work-related stuff.
Changing the Mindset of Being Overwhelmed
So, the whole point of this post is to break down the sense of feeling overwhelmed by various projects throughout the day. Because a lot of freelancers, bloggers, video creators, gamers, and writers often claim they are overburdened by the workload. This feeling can easily lead to you burning out and giving up on an otherwise potentially lucrative career.
But how overwhelmed are you really when you break it down to the time you actually spend working on your projects versus the time you spend at the drive-thru window, shopping, watching mundane videos, or playing around on TikTok?
Are you truly as productive as you think? Or, is it your frame of mind that is causing a lot of hiccups along the way?
Seriously, I don't realize just how much time I waste until I look back at that spreadsheet. So, I'm not saying people who claim they are too busy are full of crap. Because in the long run, you really might not know just how much time you burn in the day.
Not to mention there are a lot of people sucked into hustle hard culture that really does burn them out.
Before you start feeling overwhelmed or stressed about the things you want to do in the day, take a step back and really process the time you've spent working on those projects. This is perhaps the most difficult aspect of success; being truly honest with yourself and your abilities.
This, above all, to thine own self be true.
This Is Why I Collect Data
A lot of people have scoffed at my spreadsheet. But, it has helped me become the success I am today. From setting goals for the number of words written in a day to hitting certain percentages of my day actually spent working, the data has been greatly influential.
Before you stress yourself out, take a good, honest look at your day. How much of it do you truly waste on mundane tasks that have no bearing on your success?
About the Creator
I am the owner and operator of several blogs including WriterSanctuary.com. As a freelance writer since 2012, I have covered a range of topics and completed over 8,000 projects for clients. Follow me @WriterSanctuary on Twitter.