How to Track Time Without Wasting a Minute

wastedtime.jpgIn the great quest for the Holy Grail of productivity and streamlined efficiency, I’ve…

Well, I’ve failed, to tell you the truth. I can’t track my time for the life of me. I start the stopwatch and forget to turn it off. I get frustrated opening programs and entering data. I switch between tasks too quickly to stop and mark what I’m doing. Let’s face it – tracking time is damned boring.

More than once, I’ve tried to figure out what I do in a week so I can figure out where to whittle down, delegate or outsource. I want more free time and a better work/life balance. I want to be more productive, too… without the hassle of spending time to gather data and analyze it.

When someone asks me how much time I spend managing the business, checking emails or writing, I guesstimate. I often clock 60-hour workweeks. Others, I count 30 hours. Or is it 35… Hm. Maybe it was 47.

I often wonder where my time goes and how to ease the workload. Ican’t do that without knowing how much time I spend on each task. Where should I cut back? What’s eating up my minutes? What’s costing me and the business? Good questions.

Now I have answers.

Sharon pointed me to Rescue Time, the neatest, sweetest application I’ve ever seen. This is exactly what I need. It’s free, it’s functional, and I can forget about it. Perfect.

Rescue Time is a free download that you install on your computer. After you create an account, Rescue Time does some cool data mining while you work.

It knows when I’m in Word or when I’m in Adobe. It knows when I’m surfing – and the sites I’m visiting. It knows how long I stay there. It knows when I read email or chat with Harry on projects. Rescue Time knows freakin’ everything I do, down to the second. It’s like Big Brother watching me, only in a polite, unobtrusive and helpful way.

At the end of the day, I click once on the icon to submit my data. Or once a week. Or whenever I feel like it. Doesn’t matter – there are no rules with Rescue Time.

One more click and Rescue Time shows me this:


(click on image to enlarge)

Holy Toledo, Batman. I spend a small fortune of time on dealing with emails. (For those of you who want to attain inbox heaven, see here and here.)

The beauty of Rescue Time is that with least effort on my part, I have a beautiful graph of my work habits – and within minutes of installation, if I feel like it. I’ll be able to see exactly where my time goes (and not where I think it goes) and I’ll see precisely how much of my time I spend on individual tasks.

If you’re into productivity, then you can’t go wrong with Rescue Time. It’s a damned nifty lifesaver… or should I say timesaver?

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.