Rescue time for focus
As a software professional we spend most of the time before a computer and as a mobile tester I am inundated with tens of distraction inducing devices — phones, computers, tablets. It is easy to fall into the seduction of these devices and loose focus on work that matters.
Some of the patterns that I observed:
- Before I can open my app for testing, I would take a quick look at notifications and respond to that whatsapp message and before I knew 10 mins is gone.
- Before I want to ask a teammate a question about something, I see a lot of whites(unreads) in slack and I would go down each of them and sometimes even forget what I opened slack for.
In this next two blog posts I summarize two tools and techniques that I am using to gain back focus.
First is Rescuetime, it is a data driven approach to measure your productivity. It has a nifty desktop utility and an android app that captures
To make this work for you do the following steps
- install the desktop app, android app and also the browser extensions so that they knows the websites instead of a generic browsing message.
- Take time categorize the activities and to give them distractive or productive scores. This would be different for different people eg: playing chess may be a distraction for you but for a chess player it may be work.
- Get weekly and may be daily alerts and see fine tune categorization
- Setup a schedule where you wanted to track your activity. It could be 24*7 or 9–6 weekdays.
- Setup goals that make sense for you eg: 4 hours of productive work.
- The UI and graphs that rescue time gives are pretty visual and motivational.
- A great retrospection for how the day went. I spend few minutes perusing the weekly emails and adjusting categories.
- If you want to take this a step further you could upgrade to pro and use pomodoro technique and rescue time can be configured to actually blockdistracting sites during focus periods!
- Doesn’t have an iOS app — largely the fault is apples because of their higher security requirements.
- Can’t let others use your profile/computer — I saw slump in my pulse when I installed this on my home machine where we primarily use computer for youtube/netfflix.
- The mac desktop app is pretty small and doesn’t have basic functionality — one can’t even logout of a profile and login to a different one.
- There doesn’t seem to be active development going on, I haven’t seen any new features in the last couple of years.
- Not all slack time is distracting and not all time spend on stack overflow is useful, there doesn’t seem to be a way to adjust a particular slot of time
But using this tool in isolation didn’t give me real time nudge/feedback on what to do next and if I am getting diverted. For that I started using meistertask see my next post.