Who wants to get more done? Based on the number of productivity apps, books, blogs, podcasts and strategies out there, my guess is…everyone.
We all want to work faster and more efficiently so that we can achieve that mythical “work/life balance” everyone is going on about, right? Or maybe just get out of the office before it’s time for bed. Or <gasp!> take a day off now and then.
Rescue Time claims to help by showing you exactly where you’re wasting your time, whether it’s browsing Pinterest or reading the latest Hollywood gossip. It works by watching your every move online, and categorizing your activities into productive or non-productive time slots.
It works in the background. You don’t have to remember to click a button on or off, select a task type, or even do any kind of setup. Just download the app, select your most distracting and most productive activities, and Rescue Time does the rest.
It’s even teachable, so if Rescue Time reports your favorite recipe blog as “entertainment” (and therefore a distraction) when in reality you’re researching a new book, you can fix it. Just click to change the category to “Business” or “Learning” and select a productivity rating. Rescue Time will remember your choices and adjust its reporting.
Sometimes social media really is work. At least in my business it is, so the reporting in this area is less than accurate. Admittedly, though, the amount of time I spend on “work” social media is small compared to the time I spend there just
hanging out procrastinating.
The free version only tracks online activities. If you’re like me, that’s the majority of your waking time anyway, but for people who have lives outside of the Internet, it might not be enough.
According to Rescue Time, I have a productivity score of 65, which is just 2 points lower than the average user. While it’s not horrible, I’d definitely like to see some improvement.
Some things I’m trying to get that score up:
- Single tasking. While we all like to think we’re masters at juggling multiple tasks, it turns out no one does that well, including me.
- Working fewer hours. “Work expands to fill the time available.” When I have an appointment or other unbreakable time limit, it’s amazing how much more I can get done. So by forcing myself to take time off (you know, leave the office at 6pm) I’m hoping it will make the hours I do work more productive.
- Time blocking. I know what my deadlines are, but until now I only manage them as due dates. I’m experimenting with actually scheduling time to work on certain projects. By blocking off the time in my calendar, I’m setting an appointment with myself (and creating that unbreakable time limit) and fitting the work inside it, rather than allowing a single task to take over an entire day.
Overall, I can’t say I’m shocked by what Rescue Time revealed about how I spend my days. But it did give me the insight I needed to begin to make changes. So with that knowledge in hand, I’ll set about trying to raise my productivity score and actually get more done.