Automated Time Tracking

Where have all the hours gone?

Have you ever finished your day and wondered what you actually spent your time doing? Are you frustrated that you never seem to have time to get the things done that you think are important? Or do you wonder just how much time social media is taking up every day?

Me too.

Until I found the best way to automatically keep track of exactly what you spend your time doing across all your devices every day: a lovely little piece of software called RescueTime. Install RecueTime on your laptop, your phone, your tablet, and just like that you’ll get fancy reports that show you just what you’ve been up to.

Here’s an example of mine from the other day:

Blue is productive time, red is distracting time, and grey is neutral. You can configure this however you’d like, but the defaults are good enough. As you can see, I spent just over half my time on “communication & scheduling”, which includes video meetings—my most common activity during these pandemic work-from-home days.

You also get a breakdown of which applications you used most:

As you can see, I spend a LOT of time in Outlook and Gmail. So much email! My most distracting activities were WhatsApp and The Globe and Mail, as well as “Google Chrome”, which captures any web browsing I haven’t specifically marked as productive.

Finally, you can set goals for productive and distracting time, and RescueTime will tell you how you’ve done each day:

You might think that 3 hours isn’t a very ambitious goal for productive time, but if you can spend a solid 3 hours every day being completely productive, you’ll be amazed at how much you get done. There are diminishing returns after that in terms of how productive you can be. So start with 3 hours, and if you want to build from there, go for it.

Sadly I missed my goal for distracting time, but that’s okay! It isn’t about perfection, but incremental improvement over time.

You’ll be amazed by the insights you get from RescueTime, and you’ll find yourself making different decisions about how to spend your time. Just knowing that you’ll be looking at a report of how you spent your time each day will cause you to be more conscious about what you’re doing. So good.

RescueTime has many more features, but start with this, and I’ll write about some of the other useful things you can do with it another time.

You can download RescueTime by clicking here. It’s free to try for 14 days.

Productively yours,
DK