So far in this series, I’ve looked at what productivity measurements to use and how to measure your productivity. Although editing rates can vary wildly between projects, being able to calculate yours in different situations can be an invaluable skill.
Today I conclude the editing productivity series with tips for choosing the right tools for measuring your productivity.
What Measurement Tools to Use
For the longest time, I just used Excel to track my time. Each client had its own timesheet for each year, with the following information:
- Document title
- Time started
- Time ended
- Minutes spent editing
- Hours spent editing
- Words per document
- Pages/hour edited
For ongoing clients, I’d calculate how many hours I worked for them in total and how many pages per hour I edited. (If you’d like a copy of my timesheet template, e-mail me.)
Using spreadsheet software can be a time-consuming, manual process, however, particularly when I compiled data across clients and years.
Really, I just wanted was to click a button to start and stop a timer and allow some software to compile all sorts of data into reports for.
Enter time-tracking software.
Make a list of what you need the software to do for you, and choose the software that meets those needs and that you’re comfortable using. If all you want is a timer, why pay for all the bells and whistles?
You can generally find time-tracking software that meets your budget, from simple and free to robust and expensive. Members of the Editorial Freelancers Association discussed these options a few months back (EFA members can read the main thread and the spinoff thread). Some products mentioned include:
I went with FreshBooks. You can use it free for 30 days to see if it works for you. I spent some time upfront to set up all my clients, projects, and tasks, but once that was done, I could just set my timer and go. The software tracks my data and tells me how many hours and minutes I’ve worked in a day, week, or month. It tells me how many hours I spent on a task (e.g., editing), project (e.g., Copyediting newsletter), and client (e.g., McMurry).
FreshBooks can create invoices from the collected data. Now it takes me 5 minutes to send an invoice instead of the 30 it used to, even when using templates. The software tracks views and payments of invoices as well, and I can download invoices to my hard drive.
One thing to note: FreshBooks is cloud software. That means that although you own your data, your data is stored on someone else’s servers. If that makes you nervous, choose something you download and store on your own computer.
Has tracking your productivity helped you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Read the whole series!