Think you work hard? Think again.

UPDATE: This article generated over 5,000 page views in under 24 hours, so I’ve posted a follow-up interview with Tony Wright, RescueTime’s Founder & CEO.

I’m participating in a closed Beta of and installed the software on Sunday. Yesterday sat down at my desk for 10 hours and then hit the site. Here are the results:

All I can say is, I was floored that after 10 hours I’d used less than half my time effectively.

Rescuetime lets you tag apps, so the graph above is a graph of apps that I’ve tagged as work, personalblog, etc. The rest of the time is distributed among random websites, apps and other distractions.
Here’s the breakdown of my top apps and websites:

I got into a flamewar with someone on which blew away more than an hour of my day. Most of my work is in an SSH session using an app called PuTTY. I hack my hosts file when I code and use our corporate blog for testing, so and are also tagged as work sites and grouped into the ‘work’ graph above. The time spent on was writing personal blog entries. I’m a huge fan of Brad Feld’s blog, hence the time on

So I’ve canceled two meetings this morning and have severely limited my personal blogging time today to try and get at least 7 continuous hours of REAL work in before I head to the naked truth panel and party tonight at 5pm.

I think Tony Wright and the guys at Rescuetime are on to something potentially huge. I’m watching these stats as obsessively as I watch my Google Analytics stats.


22 thoughts on “Think you work hard? Think again.

  1. Can you have different websites marked as different activities? For example, when I’m at my school’s library site or one of the many databases they send me to, odds are I’m on task (occasionally, I still manage to find an off-topic, but still cool article(s) to check out), but if I’m at or lifehacker or or, well you get the idea, I’m not on task.

    @Justin George – Yes, it is more important to get the work done, instead of just tracking time worked. For me, some nights I spend an hour on task, but the rest of the time is still productive (e.g. reading off-topic, but field relevant articles) and I don’t mind the off task time. However, a lot of nights (if it’s not obvious, I’m nocturnal) I realize it’s 6 or 7 in the morning and I haven’t done anything productive. Having some type of service that (a) tracked where I’m my least productive and (b) when I had spent a specified amount of time in an unproductive way it would prompt me to get back on task, would be useful. If at the prompt, I decide that my current activity is productive, even if it’s off task, I can chose to continue the off task activity, or choose to get back to work. Yes, timers can provide the same functionality, but if I’m actually being on task productive, I don’t want my concentration interrupted by an unnecessary alarm.

  2. That’s interesting. I’m actually doing a thesis (once school starts) on how time tracking applications and being aware of how you spend your time can change your behavior.

  3. You are a huge loser. Who cares? What you want to work on a factory floor where every second sorting widgets by hand is not wasted?

    Don’t rock the boat. The news you get and time learning, writing don’t hurt your productivity. They help it. C’mon man really.

  4. I’ve read from Joel Spolsky that you can only expect to get 5 real hours of work done in an 8 hour day.

    When I’ve put more in the hours/day column of my schedules, they’ve often been wrong (for me and others).

    I’ve found I inch up to 6 or even 6.5 per 8 at home, which is better, but still astounding to me.


  5. Linux version would be used big time…the geeks are more concerned about productivity then most other groups.

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