Rescuing Yourself with RescueTime

Whether you’re a professional, an academic, or a student we have all been plagued by procrastination. Breaking bad habits is no easy task and sometimes we need a little help, and as a student with each day bringing me closer to April, the threat of final projects and exams looms over us students.

That is why I installed a habit tracking tool called RescueTime.

Image credit: RescueTime.

I installed the software March 8th, 2017 on my personal school / work laptop in an effort to see how I could better manage my time. The data below was collected by the RescueTime program and chronicles one week at a total of fourteen hours and seventeen minutes.

Image credit: RescueTime. Screenshot by me.
Image credit: RescueTime. Screenshot by me.
Image credit: RescueTime. Screenshot by me.

The first step to better managing your time with RescueTime is the setting of categories. Is it productive for you to be using social media for your job? Then set it as such on the website. Is it productive for you to use Twitter, but not Facebook? Then you can easily tailor RescueTime to take this into account.

Like most people I have a procedure for the work I do. At the beginning of the week I begin brainstorming ideas for my next medium assignment, typing up a quick rough draft, and then editing it throughout the week until I am satisfied with it. As you can imagine, RescueTime logs this information as being unproductive, and quite a bit of it. When in fact it is the opposite and so it became very useful for me to be able to go back and tailor the information to be more accurate.

Looking at the first section of data provided to me by the software, I set the data shown to be for this month, of which it logged ‘14h 17m’. To the right of that it breaks down what I did during that moments into some quick umbrella categories. “Business”, “Entertainment”, “Reference & Learning”, “Communication & Scheduling”, and “Utilities”.

But I wanted to go a little bit more in-depth with it. That brought me to the “Spotlight on your top activities this month” section, where it breaks down the information into bar graphs while providing a legend for what each bar represents. Under business I accumulated time with “medium.com”, “netvibes.com”, “rescuetime.com”, and “twitter”. Why are some of these considered business instead of something more closely related to “News” or “Social Media”? Well, because I was able to change what the data is considered. Depending on what I was doing at the moment I was able to re-categorize the data — a useful tool when you need it.

Earning myself a 71 for my productivity, although I fear that number may be heavily skewed by the fact I had the software installed on my school laptop and not my personal laptop, I can at least take comfort in the fact that when I am on my school laptop I’m at least being productive — although I probably couldn’t say the same for my personal laptop.

If you find yourself spending a lot of time getting distracted during class, or losing focus when you’re supposed to be doing homework, a program such as RescueTime may be exactly what you need. With the data it provides you can easily figure out what you need to cut from your time, or how much you need to limit yourself during a break, as well as whatever else you may need to make yourself much more productive.

Image credit: RescueTime.
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