Friday, 30 August 2013

How to Increase Your Productivity

Reading a blog post the other day, I found a link to a site called RescueTime which advertises itself as "A personal-analytics service that shows you how you spend your time & provides tools to help you be more productive".  Now, I spend a LOT of time at the computer and, yes, for a large proportion of that time, I'm working. But I also catch up on TV and radio programmes online and . . . (confession coming up) . . . I play solitaire and Mahjong.

And I have to admit that, from time to time, I worry about how much time I spend playing games.  I'll only play for ten minutes or so at a time . . . but it can mount up over a day.  So I signed up for  RescueTime, intending to give myself a short sharp shock that will (perhaps) stop me playing games . . . or, at least, stop me from playing games quite as much.

But, actually, it wasn't as bad as I thought.  Overall I spend something over four hours a week on games but, considering that most of that is in coffee breaks or after I've finished work, I'm not displeased.  And I'm a lot more productive than I thought!

Like most of us, I suppose, I can get distracted by an interesting (but irrelevant) website, when I should be working.  And RescueTime shows you exactly how you divide your time between productive and distracting activities.  To begin with, however, I didn't think this would be useful because the charts were showing all the time I spent working (on social media) as 'very distracting'.  However, I then found the link which enabled me to grade all the sites I visit and activities I engage in, so now Twitter and Facebook and writing my blog all appear as 'very productive'.

I do wonder, though, how the default was set up.  During this week, I visited some 20 internet marketing blogs.  RescueTime graded five of them as 'very productive', ten as 'neutral' and the remaining five as 'very distracting'.  Admittedly, this is balanced but I'm intrigued to know what it is that separated the supposed 'very productive' from the 'very distracting'.  Now I've regraded them, they're all showing as 'very productive'.

I was amused, however, to find that a certain fashion site, where I'd spent twenty minutes or so browsing through the end of season sale, was graded on the default as 'very productive'.  I was tempted not to change it!

All the results on RescueTime are charted out very clearly

and are then broken down into lists so that you can see exactly how much time you've spent doing what, and on which days.

For me, RescueTime offers the great benefits of reassuring me when I'm working well (currently it tells me that I'm more productive than 61% of people) and of alerting me if I start to be less efficient.  Although, in the back of my mind, I can't help wondering whether it could, in itself, become a distraction because the charts and the details are so good!  However, it does record how much time you spend on its own site (which, naturally, the default shows as 'very productive'), so time will tell!

I should add that the link I've given for the site at the head of this post is an affiliate link, because I believe it's a good site and worth promoting.  There's a free version, but the pro version (at $6 a month) offers a lot more data.

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