I like numbers, and any tool that helps me generate data about my activities is A-OKAY in my book. On Tuesday, I heard a report on NPR about being productive in the workplace. They laid out some pretty astonishing numbers, like on an average "good" day in the office, a worker is 68% productive. I was immediately curious about my own time spent, and what the breakdown would be, so naturally I installed the software on my computer and gave it a shot.
I went with the free-version of RescueTime, which keeps track of the active time spent in a given window. A window would be a given web page, or program like Excel, or Outlook. It keeps track where you are actively looking at, and continues to poll your computer to see what is being actively used. Here is a 5 hour snapshot of my day yesterday!
Red bars = bad. Blue bars = good. The cool thing about this program is in its features. It allows you to rate just how unproductive certain programs are. In my case, I keep my gmail up at work, as i do occasionally get stray work emails there. In reality, it is 100% unproductive, as my family likes to make fun of my prolific use of gchat during the work day. For other people, gmail might be built into work, and you can set it to being highly productive.
The second thing on my list is Terminal. Terminal is the Apple application that allows direct access into its unix framework, and the gateway to all my servers downstairs. Often times I'll submit a job and have 5 minutes to spare while it runs, which I'll then click out of terminal and do something else. Then Word, Outlook and Excel are all in the list. Depending on what I am doing in these applications is both productive and unproductive!
Overall, it is fairly enlightening to see where my personal breakdown of activity is. I highly recommend installing it, if for not more then a week to get a clear indication of what you spend your time on. I am pretty proud that I was on facebook for less than ~5 minutes total in the workday. I imagine that isn't true for everyone. Try it out! Good time management is pretty important not just for work, but for your life in general. The better you spend your time, the more of it you have for things you like to do, like working out!