RescueTime Pro Review – Time Management & Productivity Tracking

RescueTime Pro is an online time management and productivity tracking software.

Introduction

Just a few months ago, I wrote up a review of the Time Doctor service which is designed to keep track of your work hours as well as analyze your time to help you pinpoint areas to become more productive. The service is well-designed and I was pleased enough to continue renewing my subscription for the past few months. The main reason I use a service like this is to keep track of my work hours in a more organized, convenient fashion as well as to have the ability to analyze my time and see what may be causing hiccups in my productivity.

Recently, I had friends suggest that I switch to a competing service called RescueTime which is similar to Time Doctor, but focuses more on the specifics of your productivity and even awards you with productivity ratings. The service also has extra features such as a built-in “get focused” mode which will block distracting websites, weekly email summaries, and the ability to set up real-time alerts. Although I have no complaints with Time Doctor thus far, I decided to jump into a trial of RescueTime Pro and give it a shot to see if it could replace Time Doctor as my service of choice.

Pricing & Features

RescueTime offers a free “lite” plan of their service as well as the Pro and Team plans which includes all the premium features and no limitations.

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There were a few features that stuck out as potentially being the most beneficial for me. First, was the ability to block distracting websites as we all are guilty of spending too much time on Facebook (for non-business use), BuzzFeed, Tumblr, or some other website that is entertaining yet distracting.

Another feature I liked, was the ability to receive productivity scores in an actual percentage (utilizing a special algorithm) and not just given the amount of time spent on each application or website. This would allow me to be able to take a quick look at my productivity level and quickly pinpoint where my trouble spots are without the hassle of digging into a deep analysis. Each application or website can be adjusted individually in terms of productivity so it is easy to cater the service to your specific career.

Function

I have used both RescueTime everyday for the past 2 weeks and have logged an average of 6 hours and 53 minutes of time “working” per day and over 100 hours. From my experience, the RescueTime service is beneficial although there are some hiccups that make it a bit annoying at times.

The reporting features are nice with attractive graphs and diagrams, but I was a bit disappointed as to the limitations of custom reports. For example, If I wanted to track my productivity from last Thursday to this Thursday, I do not have the ability to do so. You only have the option to show reports for the year, month (starting on Monday and ending on Sunday), week. Another issue with the reporting feature is you cannot choose which by specific hours, instead you have the option to view results from 24/7 monitoring, afternoon hours, Mon-Fri 6am-8pm, morning hours, or Sat-Sun hours only.

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This is where Time Doctor differs from RescueTime greatly. RescueTime does an excellent job of tracking your time spend on the computer (in general) and determining how much of it was productive according to the criteria you configure. What it doesn't do well is determining of all the time spent on your computer, how much of it was during “work hours” or time you specifically dedicated to getting your task at hand done. So if I work for 6 hours (planned work time) and then choose to stop working and stream Netflix or watch YouTube videos (off the clock) in my RescueTime panel my productivity score will be negatively affected.

This is mainly because the software is continually running in the back of your computer at all times and you aren't prompted to “clock in” like you are with Time Doctor. It takes every minute spend on your computer each day and throws it into their algorithm which determines your overall productivity level. You do have the ability to click the RescueTime icon and choose “pause for 15 minutes/1hour/until tomorrow, but this is nowhere near as convenient and efficient in tracking time as Time Doctor's automated clock in/out pop ups and not something I will (or want to) remember to do on a regular basis.

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Since it functions in this way, I can't really rely on the numbers of hours it tracks as me “working” to be very accurate. Therefore, RescueTime isn't going to replace Time Doctor as my preferred service for tracking my work hours (mainly for tax purposes and financial records). Although it does an excellent job helping analyze productivity and helping you determine how to work smarter in the future, I won't be continuing my subscription due to the limitations in custom reports and lack of accuracy in time tracking as I value these aspects highly.

Conclusion

In the end, I found the RescueTime software to be a convenient way to analyze your productivity and time management although it fell short in a few areas. If you're desperate to learn what your weak spots are in terms of productivity and what to change in the future then RescueTime is a reasonable option to consider. However, if you're more interested in accurately tracking your time and having the ability to “clock in” or “clock out” with less of the productivity analysis features, then Time Doctor is the best choice for your needs. As for my personal situation, I'm more interested in the time tracking than productivity analysis therefore I will be canceling RescueTime and continuing my Time Doctor subscription.

  • Dear Colt,
    Thank you for the RescueTime product evaluation and for your useful comments.
    Did you notice any slowing down of your computer (accessing Internet, downloading, etc…) when RescueTime was running on your computer?
    Would you have any other competing products that block Web Site access to suggest, and that you may have also tested?
    Best wishes
    Louis

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