There’s nothing quite like seeing progress to help boost your productivity and motivation.
Whether it’s the hit of the feel-good chemical dopamine you get from crossing off a to-do list item or the satisfaction of finishing a project, we all love to feel like we’re moving forward.
The problem is, seeing progress isn’t always easy. Especially over the long-term. We get caught up in the busy work or the need to do “more” and forget to celebrate all the amazing things we accomplish.
That’s why today, we’re excited to release the 2018 version of the RescueTime Year in Review—a customized report for every single user that highlights all your accomplishments from the last year.
How to make the most of your RescueTime Year in Review
The RescueTime Year in Review report pulls together all your data from the past 12 months, even if you’re a free user. (Free users only have access to 3 months of historical data with their account).
It’s a great opportunity to get a pulse on how things went in 2018, see the progress you made, and plan to make 2019 your most productive year yet.
Here are a few suggestions on how to make the most of it:
1. Get a baseline of your year in productivity
The top of the report gives you a yearly and monthly break down of how you spent your time in 2018 and can help you answer a few questions:
- What months or days were you the most productive in 2018?
- How much time did you spend on your devices this year?
- When were you the most distracted throughout the year?
2. Find the trends in your productivity
We all go through ebbs and flows of productivity throughout the day and even throughout the year. Your Year in Review can show you these in a few different ways:
See your average productivity pulse for the year. RescueTime calculates a “pulse” of how productive you are based on the time you spend on apps and sites you’ve categorized as either productive or distracting. (i.e. more % of your time spent on productive activities = higher productivity pulse).
Dive into your productivity by day. You can also see how many days you logged time on one of your devices and how productive you were. (You can even click on individual dates to see your full report for that day!)
Look for trends in your monthly device time. How did your time on devices change over the year? Were you consistent or can you see where you made changes?
3. Dig into the apps you used the most
Raw time and productivity data can help you get an idea of what 2018 looked like for you. But where this gets more interesting is seeing how you actually spent that time.
- What activities/apps did you use the most in 2018?
- Did that change over the year?
- How much time did you spend on social media or entertainment?
(Personally, I had a few shocking revelations in my time breakdown including that I spent 157 hours on social media in 2018—that’s 8% of all my time on my digital devices over the year!)
Action: Set data-informed goals for 2019
So what can you do with all the information in this Year in Review report?
To start, you can see what an entire year of productivity looks like:
- Did you spend time in places you didn’t think you did?
- Were you more/less productive than you thought?
- Were there times in the year where you struggled to be productive or worked too much?
- Are there activities that took up more time than you thought?
The great thing is that this report doesn’t have to be purely reflective. As a RescueTime user, you can use this information to set smarter goals for 2019. Here are a few ideas:
- Set a time limit on distracting time per day. Were you surprised by the time you spent on social media or other distractions in 2018? Set a goal of less than 1 hour of all distracting time per day (here’s how).
- Choose smart goals around the activities you want to do more (or less) of. Want to push yourself to write/design/code more? Set a daily goal for the minimum time you want to spend on that activity (for example, I have a daily goal of 3+ hours of writing each day).
- Track your daily usage to protect from burnout. More time working doesn’t mean more productivity. Use our Work Hours feature and specific goals to separate your working hours from outside-work hours or to help ween you off late-night/weekend email check-ins. (Try this goal and alert combo to start).
How the RescueTime Team did in 2018
Graphs and charts are exciting to look at. But even more exciting is understanding how your RescueTime data reflects real things that happened in your life.
Here are a few of the biggest insights the RescueTime team had when looking at our own End of Year reports.
Productivity often comes in waves
One thing that’s interesting to look at is your “productivity curve.” As we’ve written before, your energy levels ebb and flow throughout the day, meaning there are optimal times to work and rest.
From Data Engineer Madison:
“The wave-like patterns in the report are a nice reminder that my productivity is a finite resource that is replenished by breaks or depleted to the point of breaking.
“Examples of this pattern in my data include: my most productive month is January which follows my least productive month, December. My longest day focused in software development is followed by my longest day of unproductive time. My longest productive days in June are followed by a full week where I spent very little time on my computer (I also attended a conference that week).”
It feels good to see long-term goals take shape
From customer success manager, Irene:
“As a visual person, the productivity scatterplot graph is possibly the most helpful. In my case, it was highly concentrated within the 7-8 hours mark which kind of surprised me a bit.
“Also, I noticed that during the second half of the year I worked less during the weekends which was one of my goals. So I am happy to see this!”
Data is a great warning sign that you’re on the verge of burnout
There are some major downsides to focusing on your productivity. One of the worst of which is believing you always need to do more. Long hours and overwork sometimes feel like a necessity. But as study after study has found, they only lead to one thing: Burnout.
Luckily, your data can be a warning sign that you’re going down this path.
From CEO, Robby:
“The last few months of the year were really stressful, and it shows in my data. My computer time absolutely exploded starting in September. What’s really interesting is the data also shows my descent into burnout. Right around the time I was pushing myself the hardest, my time in Entertainment goes way up, while the rest of my time drops a bit. I know from past experiences, this is my tell for running out of gas from too much work.
“Most of that entertainment time is Candy Crush, a game that I don’t even really like until I get really stressed out and need to turn my brain off.”
We’re not as distracted as we think we are
While it’s great to identify where you’re being distracted or wasting time, data doesn’t always have to be a negative thing. In fact, it can be just as motivating to see that you’re being efficient and sticking to a good routine.
From Software Engineer, Hank:
“In a pleasant surprise, I did more Software Development than Communication & Scheduling. Sometimes it feels like slack, etc. suck up a ton of time. On the other hand, I didn’t have as much Education time as I thought; when I’m doing dev, I tend to spend some serious time researching stuff on the internet.”
Finding your sweet spot for daily device time
We all probably spend more time than we’d like to on our devices. And seeing a year’s worth of data is a great way to see where you naturally fall off each day.
From COO, Mark:
“I thought the ‘graph of as days of dots of productivity’ was helpful to quickly visually identify my sweet-spot dense cluster around the 5-5 1/2 hr productive days as the most sustainable.
“That, and I played so much WoW on Christmas Eve it shows up in the year view distinctly!”
Ready to see how you did in 2018?