Have you ever asked yourself how much time during the day in the office do you spend looking at funny youtube videos, reading emails, taking coffee or doing some boring administrative task that keeps you from getting your work finished? I’ve actually been asking myself that for what it feels my entire life. I always tought that a well organized and productive 3 hours could be more valuable than a whole day of distractions. I always wanted to measure that productivity in detail and see what things I’m spending my time on and how much. Now I finally can.
A few months ago I found out on Lifehacker about this software called RescueTime that tracks how you spend your time on a computer. It’s free and you run it in the background. It categrorizes your activities in Communication, Development Tools, Reference/Search etc. If you are using a browser it is smart enough to distinguish which sites are you accessing, so reading The Server Side and Failblog.org are considered two different activities.
One downside of RescueTime is that it posts your usage statistics to their servers, so if you don’t want anyone to see how much time you spent… watching porn in the office, you might choose to disable RescueTime for a couple of hours. On the other side, your usage statistics are accessible only by you, so your boss can’t detract from your salary every 5 mins you spent checking your private mail.
Another downside is that it doesn’t show you when exactly did you start working with a particular program and when were you AFK. So you can’t distinguish between a meeting and a lunch break.
The only downside of ManicTime is that it is too fine grained so you don’t get the quick overview that you can get in RescueTime. Currently I’m using both of them until I decide which one is better or one of them implements the functionalities of the other.