Where does my time go? I tried these two apps and saw…


Where did your day go? It seems that as soon as you picked up the phone, sat down at the computer, and lo and behold, it's already dark? Let's try to find the answer together.

Because, yes, as you probably already understood - I myself have such a problem. 🙂 I set a month-long challenge track your time online... And I discovered this and that more than I expected.

I monitored myself in three ways:

  1. self-discipline, 1
  2. RescueTime and ManicTime apps, 2
  3. And in the post-observation analysis method. 3

Let me tell you more.

Three introspection techniques I've tried: Here's how they work.

1) A method of self-discipline.

This is the simplest "I'll just watch myself" method. Nothing complicated. And nothing effective. Despite the fact that this is a popular way of self-deception.

Because self-discipline only works for one type of person: who have mastered the skills of introspection, meditation, prayer, concentration and emotion management.

Just like in a video game, in order to be able to notice what we are doing, we first need to acquire other skills. Improve your observation skills 4 and kill the demon in Varok. 5 Is it long enough to meditate and gain psychological knowledge about yourself? Introspection doesn't work if you don't have these skills. 

So was it enough for me? Did it work? Try to guess.

No, I didn't make it. Although, really, I didn't expect anything else. Tens of times I wondered where my time was going, I watched myself and after a day or half an hour I forgot what I was doing at all. What else is watching if there are so many videos with funny cats on the Internet?

So I wasn't surprised when a month later, at the end of the experiment, my answer was: "Er... Did I do something?". 6

And this was especially visible after checking the result using the second method.

2) The method of the RescueTime and ManicTime programs.

The second method threw out perhaps the most unreliable part of the formula – me. Because I like to lie to myself too. Like you.

...Not out of ill will, right!

We think we are just because... Lying to yourself is convenient, pleasant and good. It even fends off psychological illness by taking the blame down on the track "It's all over the place".

These little lies to ourselves are the reason why "a few minutes" is actually half an hour as measured by a running clock.

It is all the relativity of our human understanding. To us, our actions seem less big, terrible and bad than they seem to other people or really are. Therefore, observing oneself in the first - natural - way of observation, without mastering the methods of true self-control, is impractical.

I deliver RescueTime and ManicTime apps.

These are two simple applications that are saved on a computer or phone and track which window you spend time on and what you do there. They don't look through the video camera and check your e-mail. mailboxes. They only record the time you spend.

So these apps do the mechanical introspection work for you. Without your intervention and embellishment of statistics that: "Oh, I really needed it."

...Did this method work for me?

Yes, it worked! Damn, how well it worked! Better than I expected. But give me three moments to finish the third method of introspection and I'll get to the results, okay? 😉

3) End-of-experiment analysis method.

At the beginning of the experiment, I noted how much I had achieved in the last three months. Jobs, exact, how many working hours I worked. At the end - what I achieved in a month, with tracking.

...And then I calculated how my activities are related to other activities and how long it probably took.

For example, if I wrote 2 articles, it means that I took some time to write. If I created 11 illustrations for those articles, then I spent a corresponding amount of time on Photoshop. Then I assigned durations to the activities based on the complexity of each activity: for example, creating an illustration takes about 20 minutes, drafting an article 2 hours, eating 40 minutes, and so on. And after multiplying, I calculated how much and for whom it took me.

I received a long Google sheets document where I tried to answer two questions:

  1. What have I spent time on over the past months and this month - I hope I'm not doing any different this month of introspection than I have been before?
  2. And was my month of self-monitoring more productive just because of the monitoring?

It was not a scientific method. I just thought I'd get something useful out of this homemade introspection technique, given that it didn't take up any time during the experiment - it only took one time to compare the to-do calendar entries from previous months to the current one.

...Was this method extremely useful and showed something special?

No. It turns out that my month, in terms of work, was not special. But it was very good, because I aimed to check a "normal" month throughout the experiment, not something special. 

Four discoveries I made about my online habits during this experiment

First of all: Facebook takes up a lot of time.

And I mean A LOT. You see, I even write in capital letters. And even though I only logged on to this social network for 10 minutes every few hours... In total for the whole of August, I spent on it...

* Kosteli *

…37 hours and a bit. Facebook only. Here's the look on my face when I saw this number:

I don't understand how this is possible. // Photo by Vi Kontrimaitė

What is there to do in it? What?! It seems that I'm not some Justė Latauskienė, who writes the longest texts about the life of doctors, and I don't write jokes like Jonas Jonka or Robotas Meška. I don't even follow my friends very much...

But statistics are statistics.

I spent 37 hours, or, roughly speaking, about 16-20% of my entire working time that month on Facebook. And I didn't notice. After all, at that time I could be writing or meeting friends, right?

Secondly: Video entertainment takes EVEN more time.

Yes. During the month of August, according to RescueTime and ManicTime, I spent various YouTube videos, TED talks, series, cartoons and anime and Imgur...

...About 72 hours. Again, purely. That's about 32% of a full month's work time. Eh.

Thirdly: It takes about a million hours to write, edit, illustrate, and publish a Cloud article, as I previously thought.

Well, I multiply it a little, actually I am in August I wrote one article and I edited one. But it took me about 4 hours to write, to edit 7 - about 10 hours. I spent about 4-5 hours on the illustrations and another 3 hours on the layout and formatting.

I'm not sure if these are normal numbers. Maybe I was just working very slowly. Maybe I was too distracted. Maybe my carnivorous diet is not a good choice and the author of the second article is right... Hmm.

Fourthly: email I spent as much time as I could on the mail.

Or to be more precise - about 15 hours a month, which nicely divides half an hour every day in thirty days. Not much at all.

However, I was not surprised by this number, because already in July I had installed a program on my computer that limited the time in Gmail to exactly half an hour a day. So it turns out that as an addict, I'm one who uses until it gives. Maybe this is positive?

So what did I do after the introspection experiment?

I did it simply: I have blocked or limited my online activities that interfered with my other goals.

Better goals.

  • Youtube, BuzzFeed: Completely blocked.
  • Facebook, Reddit: First 18 minutes over 3 hours, then down to 10 minutes over 2 hours over the next three months.
  • Gmail: 30 minutes every 6 hours. I wanted to reduce it to 20 minutes, but I realized that I couldn't do anything after that.
  • Miscellaneous Comics: 8 45 minutes a day. After that I reduced it to 15.
  • Delfi, 15 min, Lrytas: I don't block because I don't read, but if I started reading, I would.

And so on. If there were more interfering activities, the same thing would happen to them.

How did I do it? Helped me: Cold Turkey and Rescue Time (again!).

These are small programs for your computer that will help you limit yourself to what you want. I spared Euros for these apps and it was worth it. By the way, Cold Turkey has a one-time fee, and Rescue Time has a monthly fee with a free trial period, so the first option is cheaper, but the second one can be tried for nothing. I used both interchangeably. Of course, there was no need for both at the same time.

There are also alternatives that I have also tried:

They also work. Not so convenient and high-quality, but it works. You can try it too if you want!

And what would I advise you?

  1. Start monitoring yourself using at least one of the three methods.
  2. Follow this for two weeks. Or longer.
  3. When you see where you are wasting time - block it. Or, in another way, find a way not to do something that is not worth your time and energy.
  4. And enjoy the free time you've been missing so much.

Good time! And don't forget to leave a comment below if you have any observations, tips or questions! ⏰

  1. It's a bit more complicated than it sounds. I'll tell you right now.

  2. These are two computer and phone applications.

  3. This is a self-evaluation method I invented.

  4. Because thieves with the lowly perception levels will enter the very first trap of the dungeon.

  5. Because, by the way, that sword looks super cool.

  6. Perhaps introspection helped to become more productive, but the effect was negligible. Maybe you should use the advice of psychologist Lukas Marcinkevičius?

  7. That's the bulk of the work.

  8. I am XKCD, Questionable Content, Oglaf, SMBC and Miglė Anušauskaitė comic book fan.

  • Just today I was wondering how much time social media consumes. networks 🙂 Thanks, Daniel! I want to ask about the apps - I want to use RescueTime but they only have a 14 day free trial. Is there any good app that doesn't cost money, ie is free? I can't afford to buy such things at the moment.

  • Thanks for the article. I start the experiment from February 16. You could also add the StayFocusd application, it is also quite useful 🙂

    • Thank you! I included it in the article because really - I used it myself before ColdTurkey! 🙂

      And, hey, good luck. Don't forget to write here or to my email (danielius@debesyla.lt) how it goes. If it doesn't work, write too, I'll help. You guys 🙂

  • You hit the top ten with the article!
    I have been using Rescue Time for 6 weeks.. The question is, what is the benefit of Manic Time, how do they complement each other and why did you use 2 apps instead of 1?

    Also, I've never used blocking apps before. The goal would not be to completely block the website, but let's say the limit would be 30 minutes a day to use it. It will take half an hour and it will be blocked that day. Or do all these programs do this?

    • I used two to be more precise. The statistics were really almost the same, only Rescue Time automatically scored (and counted) better, Manic - it's more convenient to score yourself. For example, if I worked by the hour and had to pay for the work per hour, I would use Manic Time - you can mark all the blocks separately 🙂

      And not all do. But a few are. Nanny for Chrome and Cold Turkey will work here :F

  • Nice article. If you spent more time on work, and not before, after, during analysis, maybe you would start working better?

    Second, you don't follow the principle that only a habit can change a habit, so blocking your habits is not the best way. You are going against human nature :).

    • Thank you, Mindaugas! Just looking at the fact that before I opened my eyes, I don't know what I was doing for a long time and how much I am doing now - the analysis was useful. I don't do it every day now, one month of observation is quite enough, if the month is not special in some way 🙂

      As for habit->habit, it's true, it's true, we're not the type to do nothing. The only problem is that when you have candy on the table, you will eat it (or will it be easier to eat). Choice architecture, in other words. https://debesyla.lt/kaip-gyventi-sveikiau/ I write more about her. Thank you!

  • Android users have the atimelogger app. Of course, you must not forget to mark when you start or finish something. However, this tool helped me to understand what I spend inadequately too much time on - and this is not only in the online space, but also in reality. Discovery - As a girl, I spend way too much time getting ready for my looks (surprise).

    • Oh, good idea, Mil. It's true that I haven't started a real life, because I'm still at the computer almost all the time.

      But it is still possible to record time realistically with a stopwatch + pencil + paper, I have read about several people who have been following their life for 40+ years and always try to find the necessary time for rest, work and study. 🙂

      Thanks a lot, Mil!

  • Thanks for a great start to the day! Yes, I'm Kristina (a very appropriate name was chosen because I think more girls smiled too) 🙂 And it's for everyone, so I've already shared it with others. Several acquaintances have already started this experiment - great!
    I'm a bit of a workaholic, or rather I love my work so much that it's more like my lifestyle. Therefore, I have already performed the experiment described in the article a couple of years ago, because at that time time simply melted and I did not manage anything. I'm not really saying that I live without Internet "goodies" now. But I use them like candy - in moderation and some things as rewards. Maybe it sounds stupid, but here everyone comes to an agreement with himself 😀
    Also, every day I try to spend an hour or two without the computer and the phone. And many other little things.
    I encourage everyone to take the ideas in this article and find a way (or even several) to manage their time.
    Good luck. 🙂

    • Thank you, Christina! It will be really interesting what your friends will discover thanks to the experiment! 🙂

  • Thank you very much. I used to just block myself on Facebook, but now I tried Cold Turkey and really liked it. Everything really pays off, let's keep going! 🙂

  • Hehe, great article.

    I've been freelancing for several years, but as soon as I started, I immediately saw that something was wrong with my time. I started using RescueTime and still do. The average productivity pulse rose from 55% to 83% in a year and a half. And most importantly, I set and fulfilled the goal - less than 30 minutes. per day distraction time. There is nothing better than introspection.

    Daniel, how are you, are you still using it? 🙂

    • I am currently not using RescueTime, I am quite happy with my productivity. I'm more on Cold Turkey, which is all about shutting down the internet at night to go to bed with zero productivity and this summer of 2018 and Facebook doing my https://debesyla.lt/vasarknyge/ summer without Facebook experiment. This Cold Turkey stuck to me like a macroflex during training - indelibly.

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