Want to track your computer use? Try RescueTime

RescueTime logoI read blogs every day and from these various postings I get even more information and ideas. If you don’t have a feed reader (I like Google Reader), you should sign up for one and start subscribing to blogs, wikis, and any other type of dynamic content that interests you. You’ll save a lot of time by the content coming to one centralized location, your feed reader.

From one of the blog postings I read today, I found out about RescueTime. While I wouldn’t go crazy over-analyzing how I spend time on my computer, this service looks pretty promising and helpful– a real productivity-enhancer. Once you sign up and download the software to your computer, it tracks what you do on your computer and provides a neat graphical representation of how this time is spent. You can go to your RescueTime dashboard and see what you have actually been doing, not what you THINK you have been doing.

Also, you can tag your sites and organize your data according to the tag. If you are like me, you spend the majority of your workday on your computer. It would be helpful and maybe surprising, for me to see how I actually spend my time!

One limitation to this, of course, is that your RescueTime account only tracks information on the computer you created your account for. If you use several computers during the day (you guessed it, that’s me), you’ll need to download the software to each computer, with the corresponding tracking being done on each of the computers. However, I don’t think it would be difficult to create a mashup of these different applications and have the data combined. So there’s a mashup learning goal I just set for myself!

Another cool feature is that you can also view your RescueTime data (it shows up on what they call your RescueTime Dashboard) on your Google home page. It’s called “RescueTime To-go.” All you need to do is get your API key from RescueTime, copy and paste it into the form fields you are directed to on your Google home page. Then, you’ll see a little graph of what you have been doing on your Google home page. (If you don’t have a Google home page, you can create one by going to http://igoogle.com.) Below is an example of what this gadget looks like on my Google home page. (As you can see, the graph shows that I have spent the majority of my time so far today writing on my wordpress blog. And I only spent 8 seconds so far on email! That is my kind of day!)


I’ve installed RescueTime and started using it today, so I’ll let you know if it makes a difference in how I work. For now, I am just starting to collect data on one computer I’m on at the moment.

Have a great and productive day!


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