What AM I doing?

Before I began working from home last year, I spent most of my professional life in an office. I was quite used to the amount of work I would get done in day – sometimes at high productivity level, sometimes lower – but for the most part, was a diligent worker who participated in the social aspect of the office, if only to develop relationships to make working with colleagues more seamless.

It wasn’t until I started working from home that I realized JUST HOW MUCH I can get done over the course of an 8 hour day.

I’m an advocate for a technical writer getting into the thick of things – there is, of course, the need to play with items, talk to people who use them, understand the ins and outs of products that I’m documenting – but I also understand the importance of being able to step away and really think. A time for focus. For uninterrupted work.

And let’s face it, when you’re alone in your house, the only one who can interrupt your train of thought, is you.

So, after seeing my productivity rise due to location, I suppose I developed a deeper interest in how to become even MORE productive. What times of day was I most energized? What times of day was it better for me to step away from the computer? How could I get more out of my day?

I track my time for work so I’m used to being on top of what I’m working on during the course of a day. But listening to a recent podcast of the CBC show Spark, I decided to get even more granular and really see how I’m spending my time on the computer.

Rescue Time taps into your machine and tracks the activities you’re working on. There are paid services and options for teams but I really just needed the free ‘lite’ version, more out of curiosity than anything else.

You can customize the activities you find are most productive and those that are not. Based on this personal assessment, Rescue time lumps the activites into PRODUCTIVE blue and NON-PRODUCTIVE red.

You can also set goals and alerts for yourself. For example, if I spend more than 45 min a day on distracting activities, I’m alerted. Once I’ve reached 7 hours of productive time, I rewarded with an alert that tells me so.

When you step away from your computer, you are given an alert when you get back. The buttons are customizable and you can also decide to not track that time at all.

You can also pause the system, if you don’t want it to record time and also allows you to track what you’re doing off your computer.

If you’re really struggling to stay on task, you can ask Rescue Time to block all activites you have deemed unproductive. (I’ve not had to go to this extreme 🙂 )

I’ve been using it for a week and the results are quite interesting. I’ve learned that early mornings and mid-afternoon to early evenings are my very productive times. Mid-day tends to be a great time to meet with people, brainstorm, grab lunch, re-energize with some yoga or a run.

I have a feeling this will really help me feel so much more accomplished at the end of a day. Already, I’ve gone over my targeted productive hours for each day – and that ‘gold star’ feeling is a great motivator.

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