Five things I like about RescueTime:


I like Data Analytics! I like it even more when Data analytics is used to extract insights that you can act upon! One such example in the space of time management/tracking would be a great app that I have using for the past six months now called – RescueTime; I see this app as a platform to carry out “data analytics” to increase my productivity. I called it a platform because it “collects” how I am spending time on my computer/web and whenever I want I can login to their portal/dashboard and analyze how I spent my time – And then I act upon the insights I get from their platform.  I’ve shared one example at the end of the article but before that – let’s learn more about RescueTime and how it can help YOU too; Quoting from their website:

RescueTime is a tool that allows you to easily understand and optimize how you and your team spends their time and attention. One of the most important things about RescueTime is that there is NO DATA ENTRY. You install a small application on the computers at your company and we magically track what software and which web sites are actively being used

Now. here are the Five things that I like about RescueTime. Note that I am an individual user using the Free version of RescueTime:

1. weekly summary email:

I like receiving weekly summary emails – It gives me the high level overview how I spent my week. Few things metrics I like: Total Time (broken down by categories), How productive I was (in %) – for e.g. it would tell me that I was 62% productive during the week, lists the top activity and my productivity breakdown.

2. “Productivity By Day”chart:

Nice Data Visualization! you can quickly see which day was the most productive day for you:

rescuetime productivity by day chart*Date would be replaced by real dates.

3. Time Spent by Category/Tags

A nice report on Time Spent by Categories is shown in the Dashboard. Every activity logged by RescueTime is automatically grouped into categories. Examples of few categories are: Software Development, Social networking, writing, Email, Entertainment. And this brings me to my  next point:

4. Customize how activities are “categorized”.

By default, RescueTime puts all our activities in categories but sometimes it doesn’t do it the way you want. So for instance when I open Excel – I want this activity to be categorized into “business” but it gets logged as “writing”. In such cases – you can change the category of an activity and next when the same activity is logged then it gets the latest category that you had specified.

Also RescueTime divides each activity logged into buckets of “very productive”, “productive”, “neutral”, “very distracting” – you can change the productivity category of an activity too. Note that this is used in #2 “Productivity by Day” chart

5. No manual data entry – it’s automated

It just works. Though it has an disadvantage that you can not control how it categorizes each activity while it is logging the activity and if you do spend time in reviewing what it did – then reports that you’ll see might be skewed. But when you find time, you’ll have to spare few minutes (only initially as a new user) to tune the categories and productivity tags as the way you want.  But once you have done it – it works well. No hassle – it runs in the background and does its work of logging each activity!

And lastly as promised, An Example of how I used the insights made available by RescueTime:

I decided to reduce the time that I spent on social networks by 50% after I saw that I use to spend about 350 minutes weekly! So now – I am saving at least about 2 hours each week! This is the report I created based on my past “summary emails” to show the Trend about Number of minutes per week that I spent on social networks:

social networking time spent paras doshi

That’s about it for this post! check out RescueTime if you want to save few hours of your time and increase your productivity! And if you already track your activities – how do you do it? Do you use RescueTime or similar app? Start a discussion in the comments section!

UPDATE 27 Nov 2012: I got one year of RescueTime Pro in return for posting my views about RescueTime. Thanks RescueTime!

Productivity Tip: Convert “Emails” TO “Tasks” or “Prioritized To-DO List” in Outlook 2010


Though I have used Outlook as an email client for about couple of years now – I recently figured a nice way to convert “Emails” to “Tasks” in a Prioritized way. One way to think about emails is that it’s a mechanism via which others assign work to you. Some work may be more important than the other. Wouldn’t it nice to just take an email (that has some “to-do” work for you) and put in a Prioritized To-DO format? Yes? Turns out Outlook can do that for you! In this blog-post, I am going to show you how.

Here are the steps for Outlook 2010 (Desktop Version):

1. Select an Email. Drag it to the TASKS (in the bottom left corner of the navigation pane)

2. Now it will add the content of the email as the description of the Task and it will let you select:

  • Subject
  • Start Date
  • Due Date
  • Status
  • Priority
  • Reminder

outlook emails to tasks to do

3. And you’re done! you can do so for more than one emails – After you COMPLETE a task you can mark it complete.

4.When I get in the “work mode”, the first thing I see is my Task- List. If you want to see your Tasks:

Navigation Pane > Tasks section > Just select “Tasks” (and not To-DO list) to see the Tasks (you can sort it by subject, due date, categories)

5. Note this is similar to “flagging” an email and then assigning the follow up data to it. But I find Dragging the Email to Tasks and then setting the priority simpler.


So that’s about it. Do you use this feature? No? Would you use it? Also, Do share outlook tips with me – I am always looking for things that can make me more productive!