Thursday, January 26, 2006

Evaluating your workplace habits

Often times when you spend your 9-to-5 at the office, you feel like you're not getting as much done as you'd like. Or maybe you're just curious about how much of your work time is taken away by non-work distractions (impulse to web surf and other things). One tip I got from reading sites such as Lifehacker and 43 Folders is keeping track of the time you spend at the office. This means literally take note of what you're doing, including the start time and end time. Fortunately there are tools out there that help you do that.
Ideally, a tool that I'd like to use for this has the following features:

  • Small enough to fit in the toolbar and has an always-on-top option
  • Installed on the PC (because I don't always have internet connection)
  • Can easily switch from one task to another (because I do many different tasks in a day, and I don't do one task continuously from start to finish).
  • Has a decent reporting feature.
  • Free

I tried a number of different tools, ranging from the basic to the sophisticated, but finally settled on TimeTracker. It doesn't meet all my criterias, but I'll settle for it for now.
I've been using it for only 3 days now, but I'll share my experience. First, I regret to say that I broke the first rule of scientific study. When you're observing a subject, your observation is not supposed to affect your subject. However, in my case, the fact that I'm able to dissect my working habit as I'm doing it and evaluate whether it's good or bad, makes me improve my working habit at the same time. So at the end of 3 days, I see that I'm actually doing more work that before.

Well, in any case, even though my study is not valid, my goal to improve my productivity is achieved.