Do you know exactly what you spend your time at work on? You can track your work and see where your time goes using RescueTime. The time tracker will help you find correlations between your wellbeing and productivity. We will tell you how to be more efficient using simple life hacks.
RescueTime is an app for your smartphone and computer. It collects data about your daily productivity. It’s your indispensable assistant for finding out how much time you spend working, procrastinating or scrolling Facebook.
All your activity on the computer is categorised into business, news, utilities, etc. and marked on the scale from productive to distracting. After installing the time tracker you will need to choose which categories to mark as the most productive and important.
The app has default labels: news sites or internet stores will be marked as distracting. You can collect statistics for 5-7 days and then assess your week and customise the categories.
For example, Facebook time is considered the most distracting, but if social media is where you work you can simply change that category to “professional networking.”
Here is my example. I’m an editor, so my main efficiency indicator is how well and how much I work with texts. I spend most of my time on the computer searching for information, fact-checking, working in word processors and our website console, posting and commenting on social media.
I check the statistics for how much time these tasks take me to complete every day. Here you can see that I spent 13% of my time studying English sources. The default setting for this is “news” and it is labelled “distracting.”
If you frequently visit certain sites for work purposes, you can simply change the efficiency marker to neutral or productive. You can delete a particular website from the statistics for a specific day altogether or set RescueTime to always ignore the website so that it doesn’t show up in the reports.
The free version provides you with daily, monthly, and weekly reports.
It’s the reports that help you assess how satisfied with yourself you are. Thanks to these reports I finally got rid of the I-can’t-get-anything-done complex. Here are some figures showing how much time I spent working.
Here is the report for a productive day.
And here’s a weekly report. It really helps you understand how much time you spend doing certain things. In my case, 33% of my time was spent on writing texts (the design&composition category). That’s a third of my time, which is average.
19% was spent on social networks and even though I use them for work and mostly discuss projects there, for ideal experimental conditions I decided to goof off scrolling news feed on my smartphone without RescueTime installed. I noticed that I got less distracted by messages during the day. I read all of them in the morning over a cup of coffee.
The categories show you in numbers how much time you spend on routine. When we evaluate our time we are often wrong and subjective. For example, let’s take Tom, an online store owner who is tackling strategic tasks for his business but he spends many hours every day replying to his clients’ emails. He could give that task to somebody else.
Difference between the free and paid versions of RescueTime
The free version will fit most of your needs:
- Daily, weekly and monthly reports.
- 4 types of reports: website visits, applications, categories and goals
- Setting goals, for example, “spend at least 3 hours a day writing.”
- Top activities during the day
Personal top activities diagram
The paid version costs $9 a month or $72 for 6 months. Unlike the free version:
- You can track offline activities. This feature will come in handy if you receive a lot of calls or have a lot of meetings. It can also track the time you spend with your family or commuting.
- Zappier.com integration. You can customise notifications in Trello or Slack.
- IFTTT integration. You can link your devices and apps to make it more convenient. For example, you can have calls and notifications automatically turned off on your phone during your focus sessions.
- The “focus” function blocks websites that you mark as distracting for a certain period of time or according to a customised schedule.
- Goal notifications so that you know when you spend the necessary amount of time on a particular activity (2 hours in Google docs, for example).
- Daily achievements — daily report on completed tasks.
- Thorough reports: each day analysis, monthly changes in work time, comparing time spent on the phone vs. on the computer. You can also look up the statistics for more than one month.
Of course, the paid version is more flexible but the free version is enough to track the correlation between your wellbeing and productivity.
How to be more productive using RescueTime
Your health affects your performance. Combine the data from RescueTime with your wellbeing data and find out what makes you more productive. You can do it manually by tracking the amount of sleep and physical activity during the day and comparing it with your productivity data.
What all doctors, scientists and healthy lifestyle books say is that healthy sleep improves your productivity. Sleep at least 7-9 hours a day.
Here is the correlation between a RescueTime programmer’s sleep and their code writing efficiency. The story is taken from the RescueTime blog. If sleep (the blue column) is less than 6 hours he is less productive.
A typical example, if you take 8000-10000 steps a day (recommended by WHO) you reduce your stress level and boost your energy which directly affects your productivity. Workaholics, don’t forget to walk more.
We created this diagram based on the data of one of our users. You can see a clear correlation: the fewer steps they take during the day, the lower their productivity level is.
“It is the manifestation of biological principles and the effects of physical activity on health. Moderate physical activity “burns” stress hormones, stimulates tissue respiration and boosts metabolism. It also improves sleep and increases energy. And the better your sleep the more energy you have and the more productive you can be.”
— Sergey Kononenko, psychotherapist, sports physician and Welltory expert
85% of our users note this correlation. The more physically active you are, the better you work. But you need to keep a balance. Some people get exhausted doing high intensity workouts which decrease their productivity. But 8000-10000 steps a day is a required minimum for an adult.
Productivity-wellbeing correlation: track your stress and energy levels
Measuring your wellbeing everyday helps you take note of what affects your ability to work. You can take your stress and energy level measurements for free in the Welltory app. The only thing you need is your iPhone camera and 3-5 minutes in the morning.
You can go further and collect all data about your health, sleep, physical activity, stress and productivity in one app and then look up the correlation in diagrams. All you need to do is subscribe to our $2.99 plan and integrate RescueTime and other sources.
This is what a productivity diagram on the Welltory user dashboard looks like. You can see the correlation between energy, stress and work efficiency.
Tracking your wellbeing helps you plan your day and switch to something different when your body needs to, for example, go for a walk, work out or have a one hour power nap. Tracking and analysing this data you naturally learn to notice what affects your productivity and wellbeing. You can easily learn about your own correlations. They are easy to identify if you collect the statistics.
Stress and energy
A high level stress or a low level of energy decreases your efficiency. For example, stress leads to procrastination, you get distracted by everything and don’t do your work properly. The less stressed you are the more energy you have and the better your work performance is. You can see the correlation in the diagram. The red line is the stress level, the green one is the productivity index. This diagram is what your health analyst sees.
There are many factors that reduce stress and they are different for each of us. The universal ones are daily physical activity and healthy sleep, which we have already mentioned earlier.
Our user data analysis has also shown that there is a correlation between the amount of steps you take and your productivity. The more users move during the day the less stressed and more energised they are. Use RescueTime and Welltory apps to come up with your own life hacks and see what makes you more productive.
What about personal data?
The only data that is sent to Welltory is the time you spend on the computer, your efficiency diagram and activity categories. Your health analyst sees when you start your day and when you finish it. They do not see which websites you visit or how much time you spend there.
This is how the efficiency and overall work time diagrams are shown to Welltory experts.
This is a diagram with categories of activities and the time when you started and stopped working.
This information is enough for your analyst to find correlations with other factors of your lifestyle and give you recommendations or suggest you to experiment. For example, they may notice that you are less productive when you switch your computer off and stop working at 11pm. In that case your health analyst will recommend you to stop working and turn off the screen 3 hours before going to bed. Usually this simple solution improves your productivity the next day.
RescueTime, your assistant and motivator
- Track what you spend your time on with RescueTime
- Assess your daily, weekly or monthly productivity
- Remember that your wellbeing affects your productivity and procrastination
- There are two main wellbeing indicators: stress and energy
- Stress level goes down and energy level increases if you take 8000-10000 steps a day, workout and sleep at least 7 hours.
- Analyse your data and come up with your own life hacks to manage your efficiency and wellbeing.
Experiment, take note of what affects your productivity, keep the work-life balance and you will achieve your goals faster. Let us know if this article was helpful in the comments section. Do you use RescueTime? Tell us about your experience!