The other week, I started to experiment with a couple of time tracking tools.


I’ve used earlier versions of RecueTime but it never really stuck. I decided to give it another try and went all in and paid for a year (there is a free tier, but I wanted to give it a long enough run to really build some history and patterns). It seems to be much more streamlined than when I first tried it. There’s also an Android app to track my phone usage patterns. There’s a browser plugin for Chrome to track the sites you visit as well. There are a number of other features, but my (initial) use case is pretty standard - I want better awareness of where my days have gone.

RescueTime has been pretty handy in showing me the sites and apps I use and how much of my day is spent on them. It doesn’t give me much more insight than that however.


The second tool I’ve started to use is Wakatime. Wakatime is a service that captures metrics from your editor about the code that you are working on. For example, at this very moment, it is logging the time I spend editing this markdown file. I’m currently using the free tier (a week of stats), but am thinking about paying for the service to track details longer. You get a nice breakdown of the projects you work on (and can itegrate with GitHub), the types of files you edit (recently a lot of Ruby as I work more on Chef and Chef cookbooks again), the platforms you are working on, the time you spend editing those files, and the editors you are using.

Better together

With RescueTime, I can see that I spent 3 hours in my editor and another hour in ConEmu (for example). Wakatime then tells me that I was working on the windows cookbook, powershell cookbook, and the kitchen-habitat provisioner. How, I can look back at the previous day (or days) and really see where a pet project ties up some time or a particular task really takes my day away.