This week I came across a few articles that used the word “vampire” in its title. No, these weren’t articles highlighting Twilight or the upcoming fourth season of True Blood.  Actually, these articles were discussing real issues that had nothing to do with the allure of attractive, charming vamps fighting over an intriguing (and often times feisty) mind-reading waitress named Sookie — okay, I admit I’m a fan of True Blood, don’t judge.

For instance, one article posted in the online news section of Consumer Reports was titled: “NRDC: Set-top boxes are home-energy vampires, even when not in use“, which covered how much money DVR’s, cable set-top boxes, and other plugged in devices are costing us while they aren’t even being used (but are plugged in)–a whooping $2 billion a year. Now that’s some serious money-sucking action!

And this got me thinking, how many things are vampiric elements in day that are sucking the life out of my time (and as a freelancer time is money)? clocksWhat are the things that keep me from being as productive in my freelance career as I possibly can be?  Since I’m talking about vampires and all, the obvious doesn’t count, because the series begins in about two weeks and it’s also shows late in the evening.  I’m talking about those productivity vampires in my day that suck up valuable time, which could be used to: pitch ideas to magazines, read more (because reading is vital to any writer’s life), and generate more freelance business.

I’m always complaining that I don’t have enough time to get things done. And so I decided to track my usage of time in order to assess what I’m doing on a daily basis that have a vampiric effect on what controls my time.

Cue in Drama Button.

Well, my little experiment was quite revealing.

Emails: I found that I spent quite a bit of time reading my e-mails in the morning (and throughout my day — occasionally peeking to see if I’ve gotten a response from a client, or I’ll even stop what I’m doing to write an email while I’m in the middle of something else).

Racking Up Browser Tabs: I tend to open up Firefox and have multiple tabs opened up at the same time: Twitter, Linkedin, the New York Times, and other blogs.  And as I see things of interest along the way, I’m opening up other tabs and bookmarking websites too.

What’s in the Middle?: At times, I’ve even scheduled webinars and teleconferences in the middle of my day, which can be quite distracting as well, especially if I’m falling behind schedule (very likely). Or I may schedule interviews for articles that may interfere with the flow of other work, rather than keeping set days to conduct interviews (I try to do this but it doesn’t always work out).

Transcribing Frenzy: And when I’m done with the interview the recording can be a major time sucker (fangs fully exposed with this one).  Even though I have speech-to-text software this task is not something I particularly enjoy doing.  As I begin to get more assignments, I’m going to seriously consider outsourcing this task.

So, now after tracking my activities, I’m more aware of the problem areas that seem to affect my productivity.  From getting distracted with e-mails to  following discussions on my social media outlets, I’m working on getting these productivity vampires under wraps by revamping my schedule so that it’s more task oriented (e.g. check emails a specific times of the day only and not throughout).  Because the enchantment and mysticism of vampires may reel me in when it comes to movies, but in the real world time-sucking tasks make me feel, well, quite anemic.