Friday, July 13, 2012

How Much was Your Day Worth?

When you're a stay-at-home writer, some days are more productive than others. Sometimes you're on fire and work until only hunger can drag you away from the computer. Occasionally a day gets away from you completely. 

I've started using my Work Diary to not just keep track of how much I write but everything I do (cleaning, reading, screwing around on the internet). That way in the evening, I can answer the question I ask myself too often: What on earth did I do all day?
Once my entry in my Work Diary was pretty sparse. I frowned and thought of how much money I used to make per day at my job and decided, "Well, this day wasn't worth the money I gave up for it."

I don't think that way very often. Never once have I pined over my lost salary (mostly because there wasn't much to pine over). I have zero guilt about staying home to write, (though I do feel like I have to keep the house clean and the fridge stocked to earn my keep).

However, the thought that my time wasn't worth X amount of dollars changed the way I look at my days. 

There are other ways of looking at your days beyond their monetary worth. It can be hard to view your time as limited, especially when you're young, but we don't have forever to waste on dawdling. Was what you did today worth giving up 24 hours of the little time you have left?

One thing I like to focus on is how I'll feel at the end of the day if I'm not productive enough. If I don't get anything done, in the evening I feel sluggish, grumpy, self-deprecating, and I'm not someone my husband wants to come home to. Enough days of that can make your whole life feel pointless. Every month I look back on the things I did, and if I ever wasted an entire month of my life, imagine how awful I'd feel.

I should probably add a caveat, since I've laid on the pressure pretty thick: while it's good to look at your time as precious, feeling guilty over lost time will always - always - drag you down and make you even less productive. Do. Not. Feel. Guilty. Just think about how you can improve in the future and try again tomorrow.


  1. I've just started to track the hours I actually spend writing. I'm at home all day, too. Boy what an eye-opener. I was vastly over-estimating how much time I was writing.

  2. I'm still a full-time employed single mom, writer, blogger just getting in what I can get in when I can so no tracking for e at this time. Now, if I get the chance to write full time, sounds like this Work Diary would be a great thing to use and keep track of my productivity. However, your point about the guilt is right. Recognize and move on to doing better.

  3. Wow Angela, I don't know how you do it! With a schedule like that, you don't need to feel guilty about anything, ever.

  4. I'm in a similar spot to you, Teralyn. I am currently working on a model where I set weekly goals, but I'm thinking I need to get a little more aggressive with how I carve up my time each day.

    Angela, I'm in awe of you. You are amazing.

  5. What a great idea, for writing but also for all kinds of aims in life. Even a week's worth of tracking would give a wake up call!

  6. I would be a afraid to look at a work log of all the things I did today for fear the list alone would exhaust me. On the funny side, if I were logging it according to time I'd see as lot of: 3:55-4:01 thought of MC's mommy issues while washing dishes. 7:22-7:28 wrote quick note in grocery parking lot re: MC's argument with sister.


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