We don't know how many calories we eat, we don't know how many times we lie or delude ourselves during the day, and we certainly don't know how much time we waste.
I work on the screen all day. Early in the mornings, before paying client work, I use the Writer user on my Windows computer to do my fiction writing. It has no internet access. It is also oriented vertically, and my documents are green Lucida Console on black. This, incidentally, terrifies my offspring when they see it.
Not that I don't wander off and get distracted, but it's good old-fashioned distraction, requiring a magazine or seeing if the newspaper has been delivered yet. Character-building distraction.
The rest of the day, I am connected up to everything in the world, just like the rest of you. I started to wonder how much time I spent "recharging my batteries". I knew it was too much, but how much?
I put on RescueTime, which lets you track exactly that. Some days weren't too bad. Others, when I was stressed, were terrible. So, just like when the scale starts to go up and tracking is particularly imjportant, I stopped looking as much. I'm not a confessional blogger, so it will take me some time to decide to share any real numbers with you (and thus with my clients).
Now I put on Leechblock, a Firefox add-on. This is more punitive (though RescueTime has nanny functions too--they just aren't free along with the basic time tracker). You tell it what sites you waste time on (for me, Google Reader, Slate, Andrew Sullivan, and other commentators on events of the day), tell it how much time you want to limit yourself to, and it turns the spigot off when you reach the limit.
I don't generally hit my hourly limit. But I do hit the daily limit. Do I really need to read that much well-informed commentary on the Euro crisis, the Republican debates, and human population genetics? Obviously, no.
The question is, will putting these limits on make me more productive on the things I want to produce? I'll follow up in a couple of weeks and let you know.