Find out how you spend your time in the digital sphere – the web sites you visit, your computer usage pattern, the applications you used most
No one can debate the fact that most of us spend half our lives in front of a computer screen. We play, socialize, interact and occasionally do a bit of work among other things in the digital world. But often at the end of the day we find ourselves complaining “where has all the time gone?” When you rewind your day it literally seems like you got up, got some work done, read some stuff and suddenly. Before you realize, it’s 10 pm!
What happens when our pastimes start eating into our mainstay? There is a tremendous loss of productivity that happens due to unstructured time management. Whether you are a student, blogger, tech enthusiast, or a professional who works from home, knowing where you spend your time is very important.
You can now keep track of your time by using a host of applications and online services. These applications sit in the background and keep track of your activities. The applications will generate contextual reports comprising graphs and tags to help you get a handle on how you spend your time.
Fruitful Time Productivity Meter
The Productivity Meter application stores information locally as opposed to Rescue Time which sends info to remote servers – suitable if you want your data to be close at hand. The reports are generated on a local server at http://127.0.0.1:7885 and the interface can be accessed through a web browser. The software lets you track data for different users on the same computer. Most of us browse as part of our work, and so just knowing that a browser was running for a specified time doesn’t really tell you much. With tagging domains, you can tell productivity meter that the Intel.com domains are for “research” on processors. Apart from domains, you can tag specific programmers and even window titles. The interface is pretty simple and lets you view your activity by time periods ranging from a day to a month. You can even choose to view activities within a specified selection within each day, say 9 am to 8 pm. This way you’ll know the active and idle time (overall and per hour), time distribution between applications and web sites, and lastly tagged time data. To try the application head over to fruitfultime.com.
Rescue Time solo
Rescue Time has a cloud based interface. Its client is called the Data collector, so users who are touchy about their data being sent to remote servers will cringe at this one. Unlike other applications, this one is certainly easy to set up. While configuring your profile, you can specify productive and distractive activities. It also lets you set goals. For instance, “I should spend more than 4 hours per weekday on very productive time. If I exceed 4 hours, send me an email at the end of the day”. One of the advantages of having your data sent across is the ability for rankings and comparisons with other users, which can be fun. Rescue time will tell you where you stand in terms of efficiency when compared to average users. The tool can also be configured to ask you what you were up to in your idle time.
Manic Time has all the functionality with a decent interface. One drawback is that the application depends heavily on user input. Manic Time’s interface is broken up into four time lines viz. Browsing, Application, Computer Usage and Tags. By rolling the mouse over any of the fragments in the timeline a more detailed note pops up. However, you need to keep tagging the activities in the tags timeline to make any sense of how your time was spent. You also have the option to Tag away time, which is interesting as it lets you track time spent on taking calls or going for lunch. All tweaking such as how much time idle should be considered away etc. can be done in the Tools & Settings tabs. The statistics tab allows for pulling up a wide range of custom stats.
The software consumed around 30 MB of memory even while running in the background, which was considerably higher than any of the other tools. You can download Manic Time from manictime.com.
For many a large part of “playtime” consists of playing games. Two popular applications to track your gaming pattern are Xfire and Gamespy Comrade and perform a host of different functions. You can keep tab of games you play on your PC and also other associated information. The software creates auto-generated profile codes that show of your gaming hours, rig config, and other stats that you can embed into signatures on gaming forums. Since Xfire has a community associated with it, the application can be used not only to view your statistics, you can see interesting stats about your friend network, your favorite servers, uploaded screenshots, friend’s game play statistics, private messages from Xfire’s forums, top games being played on Xfire and top downloads.
Games for Windows Live (GfWL) also lets you follow your game trend. If you’re an Xbox 360 gamer and want to port your GamerCard data to forum signatures, you can use mygamercard.net or similar other services.
If you’re one of those who listens to an obscene amount of music, you probably know what the value of music tracking software is. Those of you who don’t, well then it’s about time you discover. With music tracking software such as scribbler from Last.fm, you’ll know details of your listening habits. The application will tell your favorite artists and tracks among other things. The data can be sliced and diced further to show overall charts or by specific time periods such as last three months or last one week. So the next time someone asks you what your favorite song is, all you have to do is look up which track has the highest play count. The only catch is that you need to register with the web site before you can begin scrobbling your music tastes. Still, registering has its own benefits like the aspects of social networking that are found on the web site. If you have been using a dedicated music player for listening to your music, the scrobbler will pick up your listening history instantly and post it on your profile. Apart from just tracking, the web interface will give you useful recommendations for music based on the songs you scrobble. Many of the generated charts can be embedded on other web pages. Also there is the option of doing fun stuff with the RSS feed of your music listening for example putting the feed onto your blog or twitter account.