RescueTime Out Of Private Beta, Tracking How (Un)Productive You Are

rescuetime_logo.pngTony Wright has been up to a new project since selling two-month-old Jobby to Jobster last May. It’s called RescueTime and it’s meant to help manage your time and stop you from ending up like this guy. We looked at the product previously, but they’ve now come out of private beta. Wright and his team have also taken funding from Y Combinator, and stand in stark contrast to the usual twenty-something ramen-eating stereotype of YC founders.

rescuetime_small.pngWright and his team wanted to make their time management tool as seamless as possible. So unlike other more manual tools or logs, ResucueTime is a desktop/web-based productivity tool that automatically tracks how long and where you spend time on your computer, be it Mac or PC. All the data the program collects is sent to your online account every half hour where it can be analyzed or shared with team members through their analytics package. Their souped up stopwatch tracks what program you have in focus and for how long. It also allows for advanced features, like program tagging and grouping, and can easily be turned on and off.

Currently, it doesn’t get all too specific about what you’re doing other than the program’s name or tag. But for web browsers, it will track what domain name you’re on as well (IE, FF, Safari). In part this limitation is because of RescueTime’s privacy concerns and in part because RescueTime can’t yet recognize what file is open. They don’t want to play Big Brother, so users can always delete time entries or shut off the program for some alone time. However, since they only list the domain you’re surfing, your stats will probably see a lot of time on Google and Yahoo since they don’t recognize these sub domains.

Although my own particular experience of using the application wasn’t all too enlightening, project teams could find it as a useful way of collectively managing time as the product gets more nuanced in the data they collect. After a day of trying it out, I found (surprise) I spent of a lot of time on Firefox surfing TechCrunch and Techmeme, while sifting through email.