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Overview:

  1. What is RescueTime
  2. Why RescueTime is better than other time trackers
  3. How RescueTime will boost your productivity
  4. How I use RescueTime
  5. Outline of RescueTime’s Features
  6. Billing and payment options
  7. Conclusion
  8. Download RescueTime

What is RescueTime

RescueTime is time tracking and productivity software that has been around since 2007. This article is going to focus on how to use RescueTime to improve your productivity. RescueTime has got this uncanny ability to show you where you are wasting time on a daily basis which allows you to make the changes that matter.

RescueTime allows you to categorize apps and websites based on how productive you believe they are. There is the option of categorizing apps and websites with the following categories: Very Productive, Productive, Neutral, Distracting and Very Distracting. There are also categories within those categories that can carry over to any of the aforementioned categories. This means that you can have time categorized as “Business” but it can either be “Productive”, “Neutral” or “Very Distracting” etc.

This data is all collected, aggregated and then displayed in aesthetically pleasing graphs that give you a good idea of how you are spending your time.

Personally, I have been using RescueTime to boost my productivity since 2016 when I was forced to track my time for my freelance business where I charged per hour. Now that I am no longer a freelancer, I still find it incredibly useful on a daily basis.

Why RescueTime is better than other time trackers

So, why is RescueTime better than anything else out there? Well, it might not be, but it depends on what you are using it for. What I have noticed about competition time trackers is that they’re either very unpractical to use or they are just far too manual. Manual input creates problems because it’s a higher barrier to entry. You have to be disciplined enough to input data consistently and regularly enough for the software to give you an accurate overview of how you are spending your time.

What I absolutely love about RescueTime is that I actually sometimes forget about it, but, when I remember it and check it – it’s still there in the background ticking along doing what it’s supposed to do. RescueTime works for you, it doesn’t create additional work for you. Most other time trackers require you to manually input data. When I was in the market for a time tracker the automated tracking of data was the biggest appeal for me.

Don’t get me wrong time trackers that are more manual in nature are great, but, they are for a very specific purpose. Most time trackers are made for design agencies where they charge per hour. The implication of this is that you have to start a “Session” or billable period in order to track time. Some time trackers even go so far as to bill you for this “Session” or “Project”. This is incredibly impractical for people that just want to learn more about what apps they are using on a regular basis. This is one of the great attributes of RescueTime, it just ticks away in the background while you do your work. And when you want it, that convicting graph that shows that you have been spending about 3 hours on social media that day, is there, right where you need it.

How RescueTime will boost your productivity

RescueTime has a metric called the “Productivity Pulse”. This is an excellent little metric that shows you as a percentage how productive your day has been. This is a great little tool because it’s tailored to your needs based on how you categorize the programs, websites and apps that you use. For example, for some people spending 3 – 5 hours a day in email is perfectly acceptable. For others, no more than 30mins spent on email a day is acceptable. This is what is so great about RescueTime, it allows you to rank and compare yourself against yourself. This is imperative to healthy self-improvement. It will show you on a daily basis whether you are reaching your goals or not. It’s fully customizable.

How I Use RescueTime

RescueTime has allowed me to increase my productivity by making me more aware of how I am spending my time. Before, I was spending hours on time sinks like twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Video games. Those time-wasters are fairly obvious, but about the time sinks that are not obvious. Let me clarify, human beings develop habits very easily, either for the better or for the worse. You can create really good habits and really bad habits without even knowing it.

A real-world example

I will use email as an example. Many office workers are in the habit of checking email very frequently. This article says that the average American office worker spends probably about 28% of their time a day reading, sorting and sending emails. 28% of the day is an exorbitant amount of time when you should be working on adding value to your workplace by doing what you were actually hired to do. You were hired for a reason, being a human information router is probably not it. RescueTime allows you to analyse how much time you are spending on email each day. At the time of writing this article, I spend about 32mins each day on email.

RescueTime has a built-in feature called “Goals” that allow you to allocate amounts of time to certain types of tasks and track how you are doing with that goal.

Email goal in RescueTime

Outline of RescueTime’s Features:

Time Tracking History

RescueTime allows you to view the Productivity Pulse with a daily, weekly and monthly scope. Lite users are limited to only 3 months back. Premium users can review their data with out any limits. I have found that in most cases 3 months is more than sufficient. Although, sometimes it is nice to reminisce on how much time I used to waste on video games and how far I have come.

Productivity Pulse

Productivity Pulse is a metric that measures your productivity as a percentage. This metric is useful when comparing your day-to-day productivity. I found it useful for comparing trends in my daily productivity as the week goes on. I noticed that my productivity waned as the week progressed, which is to be expected.

Integration

At the time of writing this article, RescueTime has 13 official integrations. Some worth mentioning are:

  1. Google Calendar (You can get Rescuetime to show the total amount of time spent on your device that day, right on your Google Calendar.)
  2. Office 365 Calendar
  3. IFTTT.com
  4. Slack
  5. Zapier
Google Calendar & RescueTime Integration

Customize what apps/websites get tracked

RescueTime tracks all websites and applications, on your computer and your phone. If this is a concern for you, you can disable the tracking of specific types of content or just disable and app or website from being tracked all together. It’s completely customizable and you can choose what categories you assign apps.

Multiplatform support

This was and continues to be one of my favourite attributes of RescueTime. My time is finite, and it doesn’t matter where I spend it, I am still spending it so I need a tool that can be applicable no matter where or how I am spending my time. RescueTime has a browser extension, pc and Mobile Phone apps. This means that no matter how or where I am working, that data is stored in RescueTime. Sometimes I look at the graph and think “How did I spend 50mins being unproductive today?!” Then I delve a bit deeper in the data and see that I spent 40mins watching cars crashing on Instagram. This is what RescueTime does, it’s like looking in a mirror except the reflection is your time expenditure.

Focus Time

Focus Time is a premium feature. This feature allows you to black list websites and apps. When you activate focus time you will not be able to visit anything that is on that blacklist. You can also schedule Focus Time Sessions in your Google Calendar and have them automatically activate.

Source: RescueTime.com

Goals

As mentioned before, goals are a fun and measureable way of making sure you are meeting your time management goals. You can set your self excessive or recessive goals, meaning, you can stipulate minimum time periods spent on an app or task or maximum time periods spent on an app or task. For example I could set myself two goals: “I will spend no more than 30mins on “Communication and Instant Messaging”” and “I will spend more than 4 hours today being productive.”

Offline Time

Now, you may be thinking, “What about when I am not at my computer?” This again, is a premium feature, but it’s really smart. It’s called “Away from computer”. RescueTime allows you to set a timeout period sort of like a screensaver. If you leave your computer for that predetermined period of time it will ask you what you were doing when you were away. This is a great solution to tracking how you are spending your time away from your computer.

Billing and Payment Plans

Rescue time offers the following plans:

  1. Lite – Free Forever
  2. Premium – $6/Mnth
  3. For Teams – $6/Mnth per user

To Sum It All Up

RescueTime is a bit like a new puppy. It requires some training in the beginning, you will need to spend some time categorising apps and websites to fit into the correct categories. You also need to ask yourself what you want to get out of it. I personally believe that RescueTime is like a mirror that shows you where your blind spots are with regards to your personal productivity and time management. There are a host of features that really does make RescueTime a versatile tool.

How to get started

Lastly, if you have any questions or comments please leave them below.

Categories: Productivity

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