Ever go to a nutritionist?
Before your first visit, many will ask you to keep a food journal for a week. Because, in order to know what to change, you’ve first got to know what your current behavior is.
And, it turns out, most people so poorly estimate what they think they eat that, when they actually record every sip and morsel that enters their mouths, they are horrified and immediately begin to change their behavior. Especially knowing someone will see their journal in just a few days. Measuring, alone, is a powerful catalyst for change.
If it works with managing food, how about time?
Not surprisingly, there is a similar phenomenon with our misperception of the way we spend our time. There are a gazillion books and systems that tell you how best to allocate your time, increase productivity, yadda yadda yadda.
Problem is, most don’t work because, until now, there’s never really been a highly-accurate way to “automatically” measure exactly what we’re doing (and not doing) all day long, especially as we dance mercilessly between windows and applications on our computers.
And, if you can’t easily measure it, no matter how much you know about what you “should” be doing, you’ll never change. Because you don’t have a realistic picture of what you “are” doing. Put another way, you need to know where you starting in order to plot where you want to go.
Enter RescueTime.com, one of the coolest free tools I’ve seen in years.
RescueTime is an application that downloads onto your computer, then pushes information about everything you do on your computer to the “ResuceTime cloud,” where it is then parsed into reports that reveal how much time you actually spend doing each thing you do on your computer.
Can’t figure out where the day went? Fear not.
Now RescueTime will show how the 20-minutes you thought you spend on twitter every day actually added up to 3.2 hours. Or, how the time you spend on IM or gmail or working on that proposal in MS Word was really way more than you thought.
RescueTime tells you precisely where your time went.
And, you don’t have to do a thing to record it. Having this information is likely going to be really eye-opening and potentially shocking and upsetting. Still, this awesome little service gives you a way to finally measure how you really spend your time. And, we all know…
If you don’t or can’t measure something, you can’t improve it.
Now, what about the freaky big brother aspect to this? Do you really want all that info being pushed into the amorphous cloud for some roving band of geeks to share with their friends at will? And, what about spying?
Won’t big brother now have a way to spy on everything you do?
Okay, so newsflash, big brother already knows everything, if you don’t like that, get off your computer. And, to a certain extent, you do need to just trust that this is a legit service that’ll maintain safeguards. Plus, the service and software have been very intentionally designed so that users are very aware that it has been installed and RescueTime is “watching.”
So, it’s not the best tool for spying.
Go check it out at RescueTime.com. At the very least, even if you don’t go any further, it is guaranteed to open your eyes to any number of major time sinks that you may have previously viewed as minor distractions. And, with that knowledge, you’ll be armed to change…or slurp down a another Red Bull.
So, what do you think?
Amazing tool, freaky spy-app or somewhere in the middle? How valuable do you think this info might be to you? And, what other commercial uses might there be? Should they add a smart-phone app?
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