As a student or a freelance designer, keeping on task and using your working time effectively lessens the feeling of guilt at the end of the day. Being able to record how long you take on a project is not only useful for accurately charging a client, it’s a good indication for you as to how efficiently you are working.
By nature I’m not a good time keeper, and a very good procrastinator. I’ve used the self control desktop app in the past with a bit of success, though it made me feel more like a grounded teenager than a design professional. While this app effectively blocks sites that you select (last time I checked this only worked on Mozilla, or quite possibly I don’t know how to internet) the human mind is very effective at inventing new and wildly interesting ways to divert attention away from work.
Now I work in a shared studio I’ve become aware, and a bit jealous of the fact that my productivity nowhere near matches that of my studio buddy Christine. So to take a leaf out of her book I’ve downloaded a timer desktop app. I set the timer at the beginning of the day usually for six or seven hours, and count down over the course of the day. When I have a facebook break or a tea break I pause the timer, though this can be a tricky habit to get into. I challenge myself to work the full amount of set hours, if I don’t manage it I add the remainder on to the next day’s time.
Including emailing and client liaising as working hours also makes you appreciate how much time can be absorbed by communications - watch out for this! Using a timer helps me become more conscious of my working habits; when I take breaks and how long I take breaks for. If I know that I plan to work for six hours, I can pause the timer whenever my attention span runs out and come back later. When the timer goes off, I can relax knowing that I’ve put in a decent amount of time into my work.