Rescuetime: A graphical representation of how this one app has dramatically changed my life

Featured, Inspiring — By on March 24, 2013 4:31 pm
rescueTime_effect

You’ll have to excuse my poor cutting job there in the middle, for some reason I can’t pull up a chart for the past 7 months, I have to pull up last years chart and this years chart separately and paste them together in GIMP.

The Proof is in the Pudding:

The dark line is the average of all the users using Rescuetime and the light grey line is my personal graph, it should be fairly evident when I started using rescuetime and it should be equally evident the effects of incorporating rescuetime into every aspect of my life has been.

 I attribute the last 7% jump to the stability, motivation and inspiration that has come from being married to the most amazing woman I have ever been with.

My average productivity has gone from 45-55% up to an average of around 75%, although before I got married it was at around 68% so I attribute the last 7% jump to the stability, motivation and inspiration that has come from being married to the most amazing woman I have ever been with.  That is a full 50% increase in productivity!!  Now like I just mentioned I probably attribute 10% from the change in my lifestyle and probably another 10% from my recent switch from working and drinking tea in the house to mainly drinking espresso and working out in Starbucks or espresso back home in the house.  Sad but true.   Still, we are looking at a giant giant leap in how much time I spend doing focused work and how much time is spend distracted and procrastinating.

I cannot stress enough here how incredibly powerful Rescuetime is as a tool for staying on task simply for the fact that it brings awareness to all of your activities.  As is true with so many profound things in life, awareness is the starting point and the lynchpin to changing behavior in oneself and at it’s heart that is what Rescuetime offers: Awareness.   It maticulously records and analyzes your behavior, tracking how long you spend in each application, on each website and on each activity and it lays it all out for you in beautiful and easy to read charts and stats.

Sure if our governments wanted to offer this we would scream 1984 rhetoric from the rooftops but someone like rescuetime comes along and I welcome them in with open arms.  But the reality of the situation is that they are a reputable company with a business model that has nothing to gain from snooping on you and everything to loose if they do so as such I trust them and more importantly I am able to see the GIANT improvements to my life because of it.

To summarized exactly how this has transformed my life:

  • In my first month of using Rescuetime my efficiency was an average of 50% and I was averaging between 90-95 hours of logged computer time per week, meaning that at the end of the day I would have approximately 45-47 hours of productive work time in my week..
  • This month I have averaged around 75% productivity and my work weeks varies between 60 hours up to 95 hours at the end, averaging at around 72 hours, meaning at the end of the day I have roughly 54 productive hours in my week.

Let me put that into perspective, I am ‘working’ 20 hours LESS per week and I have gained 7 or more hours of productive time with rescuetime

So what am I doing differently?  Well as I mentioned above rescuetime allows me to really dig deep and mine the data and break it down in an easy to understand way as I’ll demonstrate below.  Keep in mind that the charts for march of this year are taking on the 24th so they are missing a solid week of hours incase you were wondering why the 2013 numbers were lower in terms of total hours in.  On the flip side these charts are also for my second actual month of using Rescuetime as I got setup with it on the 20th of september so only having 10 days of sample data wasn’t quite enough.  This is important to note as my second month(October ’12) was certainly more efficient than September with the effects of being able to see my daily/weekly activity already starting to take effect on my productivity.    One last thing to keep in mind is that I am actually on the computer 20 hours less per week now than I was in 2012.

So at a relatively high level we can just see how my time is being divided between very distracting and very productive, ranked by the amount of hours

rescueTime_102012Prod

Productivity Summary October 2012

rescueTime_032013Prod

Productivity Summary March 2013

We can refine this a little more and just see a day by day chart of my productivity, seeing when I was most productive and when I was least productive.  Coming back to my point above about awareness, this is extremely useful in being mindful as it will become apparent as the week wears on at what point your motivation starts to drop off and you need to recharge your batteries.  Let’s say you see a steady rise in productivity up until wednesday and then see thursday and friday at 1/2 efficiency, it would be fairly evident that a more effective schedule for you would be to take thursday and perhaps even friday off and work through your weekend.. Or maybe you could just start work late at 1pm and sleep in having a relaxing morning before you hit the keyboard.  Either way, it’s rescuetime’s ability to just raise your awareness of what is going on that allows you to take the necessary steps to mitigate it.

rescueTime_102012Prod2

Day by Day Productivity chart October 2012

rescueTime_032013Prod2

Day by Day Productivity chart March 2013

 Moral of that story is that all-nighters or massive long work sessions at the expense of 75% of your sleep are not worth it by any stretch.  So guess what?  They don’t happen anymore

One very important and very specific lesson I’ve learned about myself by analyzing the past 3-4 months worth of graphs is that every time I work an insane amount and settle for 2 hours of sleep I pay a price for it 2 days later.   Sure I will be able to work for 19 hours straight but the day after I go down for a full 8 hours my productivity drops into the toilet for a solid day.  As well as the dramatic falloff in productivity after an all-nighter I also find that while I am working through a very very long haul my productivity is about 1/2 what it is when I am working a normal 12-13 hour day.  So in the example below the highest peak is when I pulled in 19 hours of work in a day.  In the end my 19 hour day looked a little something like this:

  • 9 hours of very productive time
  • 5 hours of productive time
  • 1 hour of neutral time
  • 3.25 hours of distracting time
  • 1.35 hours of very distracting time

Now compare that to two days prior where I log 14.5 hours on my machine, it gets broken down like this:

  • 7 hours of very productive time
  • 5 hours of productive time
  • 1 hour of neutral time
  • 30 minutes of distracting time
  • 1 hour of very distracting time

So in essence, I’m depriving myself of 4.5 hours of sleep for an extra 2 hours of actual work.  The rest of the time I’m not sleeping I’m essentially just doing things to keep myself awake and then pay for this the next day as my productivity just plummets to the floor.  Moral of that story is that all-nighters or massive long work sessions at the expense of 75% of your sleep are not worth it by any stretch.  So guess what?  They don’t happen anymore.   For reference here’s what it looks like, with the all nighters happening on the 6th and the 15th I believe.  Got married on the 22nd and had a little ‘mini-moon’ that weekend which explains that rare occurrence of my RT graph completely bottoming out

 

Productivity Overview for February 2013 and the futility of all-nighters

 …once you get your first monthly report showing exactly how many hours you wasted on youtube the month prior, ever youtube visit after that carries a lot more weight to it..

Mining even further into the data we can compare my daily activities then to now and if I wanted to I can go down even further to see which games I was playing, which videos I was watching, which websites I was visiting, etc etc.  This is such a critical part about raising awareness because once you get your first monthly report showing exactly how many hours you wasted on youtube the month prior, ever youtube visit after that carries a lot more weight to it.. You can feel the minutes slipping by more acutely now that a nice pretty graph has summarized just how much of your life you’ve thrown away on cat videos.  So again let’s compare Oct 2012 to March 2013

rescueTime_102012Cats

Activity breakdown October 2012

rescueTime_032013Cats

Activity Category Breakdown March 2013

So the big question here is:

What the hell happened between then and now?!

To put it simply: Awareness.  I honestly believe that is the most important part in changing ones life, becoming acutely aware of what you do and why you do it.  Clearly understanding the latter requires at least a vague awareness of the former.  Rescuetime shows you front and center exactly how much of your life you are throwing away with meaningless shit and it is VERY hard to ignore once you see it added up at the end of the month.  You think you feel bad when you procrastinate now?  Your skin will crawl when you have a big picture to frame that wasted time in.   It is also important to note that you have to want positive change in your life before any of this really means much.  The first step of this would be getting rescuetime up and running and hooked into every part of your life(chrome, phone and OS) but after that it all doesn’t do you a lick of good if you cower in fear and hide from the results.  You have to check your stats, you will have to categorize activities and programs that RT doesn’t recognize before it can be truly accurate for you and then you have to start thinking about the results and giving them some weight.  Once you do that the hard part is over, the momentum from that will start effecting change without you having to do much else.  I for one just found myself watching fewer movies, wandering on youtube less and cutting video games out of my life almost together.  Or at the very least realizing when I’ve been in one for an hour and then getting the f’ out of dodge.

 

As much as this might sound like a paid endorsement for a big brother type company it’s quite the opposite.  I pay these guys(and gladly so) for the premium version of their client.  They have paid me 1000 times more than they could afford to in dollars in productive hours.. They have given me 20 hours per WEEK of my life back that was otherwise wasted on the internet or in video games.  Time I use to spend with my wife, time I use to explore the world and as my business heats up even more it will be time I use to help grow my small company to a large one and create something that will benefit me for the rest of my life.

I am actively communicating with the guys over at RT and I am so excited about everything they have in the oven to help us rescue more of our time, hell they should rename their app to rescuelife because that’s what it can do.

www.rescuetime.com

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5 Comments

  1. Trudi says:

    Wow, isn’t it fantastic how much we can learn about our good and not so good habits.You always amaze me! How you are always wanting to improve your life personally and in business plus share that knowledge with others through your Blog.

  2. [Comment imported from blog]

  3. Emil says:

    Excellent article Ryan,

    will check that out for myself!

  4. Ryan Wiancko says:

    [Comment imported from blog]

  5. [Comment imported from blog]

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