March 27, 2012


time keeps slipping into the futureWhat matters gets measured.
What’s measured gets done.

Five months ago, we looked at three gadgets that boost productivity. Now we look at tracking. Do you know how you're using your time? Do you know how long repetitive activities take?

I started paying more attention since I'm part of a Pick Four goals program. Here are three tools that work work together
  1. time awareness
  2. passive tracking
  3. active tracking

Time Awareness

In his new book, How Your Best Got Better, Jason Womack makes an observation that's “obvious” in retrospect. If you divide your 24 hour day into 15 minute chunks, you get 96 blocks. That means that each block is about 1% of your day. Waste 30 minutes and you've wasted 2%. This simple observation made we understand the importance of time.

Can you focus for 15 minutes? Yes. If you have a 2 hour project, you have 8 blocks. You don't need to work on them consecutively but doesn't 8 blocks look more manageable than 120 minutes?

Jason recommends using a simple egg timer. If you're at your computer, you can use the free website (try it). I didn't want to look at a computer screen because there are too many distractions. I got a physical digital timer from Wal-Mart for $9. It counts down or up.

I've been amazed at how my productivity improved.

Some activities can suck up time. Your trap might be web surfing, Facebook, LinkedIn, videos or gaming. Allocate 15 minutes and stop when you hear the buzzer.

Passive Tracking

RescueTimeThere's an amazing web-based tool called RescueTime (affiliate link) that runs in the background on your computer and Android phone. RescueTime silently tracks where your time is going. A simple gauge shows how you compare with other people. A graph shows how productively you use your time. Users are said to save 3:54 hours a week.

My snapshot for today

You can improve your results by setting some parameters. The paid version ($6/month if you pay for a year) will even tell you which applications were running. I started with the free version and upgraded to paid within a few days. There's  a free trial.

If you're mobile, you can run track using a mobile app on your Android phone. The results get logged and consolidated online.

Active Tracking

TogglYou probably work on repetitive activities or projects. For instance, you might prepare proposals. I blog but wasn't sure how long writing a post really took.

I started using a web-based tool called There's a nicely-equipped free version. I got hooked and upgraded to the full version which costs $5 per month. This puts your activities on your calendar and has other features. Besides, you’re supporting the developers. There are apps for iOS and Android.

If you charge for your time, Toggl lets you set different projects for different clients. You can specify what's billable and what's not. You get reports too.

If you're mobile, you can run track using a mobile app. The results get logged and consolidated online.


I was surprised to find that I use my time more effectively than I expected. The timer makes a huge difference. There's so much that we can get done in 15 minutes.

As a minimum, try using a countdown timer (even the free Next, try one either a passive or active time tracking. Or both.


PS How do you measure what matters to you?


  1. I use TSheets ( For the first time, I feel like I'm not spending a chunk of time to track my time which, of course, the whole point is to save time!

  2. We use Worksnap ( for time tracking along with Freshbooks ( for invoicing. It works out great for our internal team as well as our offshore team. I feel very happy that now we have all the tools available on the internet for a minimal amount of money and my business can run on them.

  3. Been practicing time managament for a while myself. The tool that caught my eye is Paymo ( I especially like the Plus addon that basically keeps track of everything you do on your computer and for how long.

    It's nice to see that time management is getting better and better.