I was actually productive today.. Or was I ?

My experience using a time tracker app on my computer.

This is a blog post related to UX Academy coursework from DesignLab.

When I started my design training and career, I had lots of ambition and energy, but I wasn’t really focused. I started projects that I couldn't or didn't finish, I was reading lots on many topics, but worse, at times where I was productive, I couldn't help but check the occasional notification on my phone, open a new tab, full of good intentions to end up on Youtube 10 mins later. After couple of hours of hard work, I was rewarding myself with a well deserved gaming session, browsing social networks, image boards, or else.

I installed a time tracker (timingapp.com) on my Mac mainly out of curiosity, I thought it would be fun to see where my time goes. Oh boy.

I had on the best days, a 50% productivity score or lower. Here’s how the app works, and how to use it best.

Timing tracks the time you spent in front of your computer, and which software you are using. Each app has its own productivity score that you can change if needed. For example, Brackets for coding, has a 100% score, while Winamax for poker, has 0%. As for Internet usage, you can also be very productive or not at all. Timing will record the time spent on each website you visited, but will also add a couple of tags from recurrent webpages. This helps you at the end of the day, to assign each tag, website, or software to Projects.

Projects are a productive set of tasks. For me, it was “Learning to code”, and in it were the software Brackets, the website Udemy, and the tags #code, #HTML, #CSS, etc from Youtube, for example. At the end of the day, you clearly see how much time you spent on which project, you are given a productivity score that exaclty reflects what you did that day. You can then enjoy your feel-good moment, or be quite ashamed that you watched for an hour of cat videos (that did not happen).

Here are the benefits of a time tracker :

  • You feel the time passing. You want to get a good productivity score at the end of the day. It’s almost like a mini-game. And you feel guilty when you’re wasting time.
  • Even after you’re done with working hours, you might not be that inclined to play video games, browse social networks… It lowers your score ! And more importantly, it reminded me that there is much better things to do with my free time.
  • Timing has that neat option to bill your time. It is a useful too for freelancers as you can charge exactly for the time you spent, and you can prove it.

Why is Timing a well designed app ?

  • It is useful. It helps solving an issue I did not know I had.
  • It is designed with the end-user in mind. The Projects, the Safari website breakdown and billing option are truly great features.
  • Its UI is discrete, simple and easy to understand. The tour at the beginning shows everything you need to know.
  • It is addictive. A good productivity score at the end of the day is like a pat on the back.