Time Tracking

Being as I have a J.O.B. now and I work mostly at home, I’ve become interested in time-tracking. The passage of time is interesting regardless.

I’ve often wondered how other people handle it; the time it takes to research, record, file, surf around to see what everyone else is doing, write a blog, or several of them, keep up a mad social-networking schedule with six hundred and fifty of your new best friends and make a living using a computer as well.

Genealogists’ New Year’s Resolutions are appearing around the net. I didn’t write mine down but I can tell you what they are. Well, what it is. There’s only one. Chop my computer time in half.

Miriam Midkiff had enough on her 2009 list to choke a horse even if her computer had not crashed. She’s decided to simplify in 2010.

Jasia had a serious wake-up call to her health in 2009 and had to re-assess and re-prioritize.

By the sound of Thomas McEntree’s 2010 list he must be a young person.

The writing on the wall started screaming at me a long time ago. When I was still using a laptop, I tried setting it up on crates high enough to be forced to stand in front of it. I found it really difficult to think and type standing up and since I already have ‘leg issues’ (one ACL-deficient knee) I lasted only a few days. Maybe someone with two good knees would do better?

RachotaFor the past year, I’ve been sitting on a Swiss ball instead of a chair. In the beginning, I could tell it was making my back and core muscles stronger, but not enough to justify sitting for hours. ‘They say’ it’s a great improvement over a static chair. Still, it’s unnatural to be bent at the hips for extended periods of time. We’re human-beings, not frogs.

Other body-saving tips:

1.) Do not keep a list of things that you’re going to do someday when you have time unless it’s hidden somewhere. There aren’t enough hours in the day and, if you’re over 50, there aren’t enough hours left in your lifetime and you know it.

2.) Tape a piece of paper to the wall and write your priorities for the foreseeable future. “Foreseeable future” means today. Tomorrow, get a new sheet of paper.

3.) Put everything else you must on a digital calendar. (The one I use is EssentialPIM.) It forces you to get realistic about time. If you don’t have time for an item on its scheduled day, you can drag it to another day. If you re-schedule it enough times, you might come to the conclusion that it’s not that important.

A time-tracker might help you or it might drive you nuts. Rachota is an OpenSource and free application that can log your computer activities. You can set a daily time limit and it will tell you when it’s up.

If you’re interested, read the Rachota documentation about how to get started. It’s easy although there are some ‘best practices’ that are good to understand from the start. Rachota is a 400KB file that runs on any operating system in several languages.

Although I tend to backslide for one excuse or another, I find the simplest rules work the best. For instance, don’t turn my computer on until 1PM. I mean, just don’t. The email can wait, the dead people can wait, whatever I think is going on in this digital world that’s critical, it isn’t. I’m much better when the great expanse of the morning is all mine for errands, exercise, cooking, phone calls and anything else I can do that doesn’t require sitting.

I’m amazed at how much more focused my computer time is when there’s less of it. Also, how much better I feel about my life, in general, when I actually have a life.

What ideas do you have for managing your computer-life in 2010?

2 thoughts on “Time Tracking

  1. Margaret

    “If you re-schedule it enough times, you might come to the conclusion that it’s not that important.”

    Hee, hee. This reminded me of the “If you haven’t worn that piece of clothing for over a year, get rid of it” rule. But I did eventually complete a will after several years of “drafting.” (Drafting includes allowing document to sit in drawer for 2 years.)

    I like your not turning on computer until the afternoon. I find myself drifting over to check email in the same way you might peruse the contents of the refrigerator whether you’re hungry or not.

    My priority is to scan my 19th century photos. I can’t afford Photo Mechanic right now, but if I can import my TIFF or JPEG conversions of my scans later, it looks like the software for me.

    Happy New Year to You!

    1. JL Post author

      Photo Mechanic is just excellent. It’s helped me get through so much work with my photos I can actually see light at the end of the tunnel. It’s where I go to take a break from other things. I’m done with recommending other programs. This is it.

      As for the ‘rescheduling’ it really is a handy feature of digital calendars. It’s so handy, in fact, that it’s easy to ‘not see’ things that I really can’t be putting off endlessly. For that, though, there’s little colored exclamation marks for highest priority !!!, high priority !!, etc. Whatever works … (I keep trying.)


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