Manually logging stuff for future data analysis is annoying. I already mentioned in a previous post that calorie counting and logging expenses are tedious tasks, but one must do both if they are serious about reaching their fitness and financial goals.
Another case where manually logging data can be useful (but at the same time tedious) is tracking how much time you’re spending each day for various tasks. You can analyze this data at the end of the week and figure out where you can improve your efficiency. For example, you might realize that you’re spending too much time checking your mail or you might realize that you’re not putting enough effort on higher priority tasks.
Based on experience, however, manually logging effort data is a lot more tedious and error prone than calorie counting and logging expenses. Computerized effort logging, whether via stand alone app or web interface, doesn’t improve the experience much.
Fortunately, there are applications available that can help automate some of that data tracking. Applications like Slife, RescueTime, and Wakoopa automatically track your computer usage by taking advantage of the fact that it’s actually quite easy to determine the title of the active window in your workspace.
I personally use ManicTime for tracking my computer usage. The main advantage it has over other similar applications is that the data is stored locally, meaning you don’t need an internet connection for it to work and you don’t have to worry about the odd chance that a hacker can see what
pr0n series you’re watching.
There are downsides to ManicTime though. First off, it’s not a small app as it runs on top of .NET Framework 3.5. It may eat 30-60MB of memory, but it doesn’t slow down your machine until you view the daily or statistical data. Another downside is that it’s only for Windows. Mac users will have to make do with Slife for automated tracking.