How to Use RescueTime to Improve Productivity

Screen shot 2012-01-30 at 12.13.12 AMLately, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tasks I need to accomplish. 

In the past, I’ve tried GTD with limited success, only to create a bunch of un-prioritized lists, categorized by context.  As a result, I ended up accomplishing a great deal of unimportant (yet satisfying) tasks, but ended up missing some deadlines with some painful consequences.

In one case, payroll provider neglected to deposit the required tax deposit on time and I was hit with a usurious penalty.  It wasn’t entirely my fault, but still it hurt.  It still took me months before I was able to properly fire them, move to another payroll provider, and fix all of the accounting issues.  It was a tremendous headache.

I learned a valuable lesson: prioritize your tasks, which doesn’t fit well within the GTD system.  GTD is focused on getting the most done, not the most important things done.

So this month, I renewed my focus on becoming a better manager of my time.

After I saw Randy Pausch’s Lecture on Time Management, I decided to audit my time with RescueTime.  I’ve been going on a week and so far, Randy was right on the money.  I was surprised at home much time I was wasting.

RescueTime is a great tool to help you get a handle on how you spend your time, and it compares your time against the average RescueTime user.  Today (Sunday) I’m hitting 74%, and I’m more productive than 91% of people.   There even a badge that highlights your efficiency compared to the user users.

A few days ago, I learned that I was spending way to many hours at home reading news and looking at MLS listings.  I stopped and my productivity shot upwards quickly.  Tonight, I’ve hammered out  a slide deck, completed several class assignments, and am coding again. 

Maybe you should give RescueTime a try too.  It is free.  What do you have to loose?

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