How Many Hours a Week Do You (Really) Spend Writing?


How much time do you spend working every week? I don’t mean being in the office, but actually working. You have 37.5 hours every week, but how much is actually spent doing what you’re paid to do? When I say working I mean developing real outputs (e.g. content); this includes illustrations, diagrams, publishing etc – whatever goes into the final deliverable.

Christine, my former manager, kept a record of all the tasks she did during the week. Here’s a breakdown of how much time was actually spent writing.

  • Writing – 15 hours (includes all writing tasks, such as release notes, developing videos, converting material from Word to FrameMaker and screen capture work)
  • Email – 12 hours (includes correspondence to programmers, team members, sales, customers, mgt)
  • Project Management – 6 hours (includes status reports, scheduling, document distribution & include feedback etc)
  • Timesheets – 45 min (including revisions that need to be made so we can bill the customer correctly and allocate resources to the correct ‘bucket’)
  • Internal Meetings – 6 hours (Mon & Fri office meetings, Tech Publishing Thursday meeting & meetings with HR (assessments) and project coordination meetings with Development)
  • Customer meetings – 4-10 hours (this includes conference calls, status reports, emergencies, monthly conf calls with global depts, and project handovers. Mostly status updates)
  • Travel – 6 hours (i.e. to customer sites or downtown to our HQ)

Total – 43-49 hours (50+ if you add in the travel)

Does this surprise you?

Less than 15 hours (30% approx) was spent on documentation. The rest was sucked up with email and meetings. While there are ways to reduce time spent on these, other areas are outside her control.

5 Mandatory Tasks

She has to:

  • Go to customer sites
  • Submit Status Reports
  • Attend conference calls
  • Deliver updates
  • Create documentation

There is no wiggle room there.

How about you?

How much time do you spend actually doing what you want to do? How do you stop others from wasting your time and pulling you away from your goals?

Posted via email from Technical Writing Tips