Last month, Alison and I attended a conference in San Francisco called ALT SF. What was cool about this conference was that it was about blogging and online creative businesses and not about the law. Not that we don’t enjoy law conferences, yet it was fascinating to be surrounded by a bunch of people doing interesting things but whom we typically don’t meet. It was a good reminder that you can learn a lot from folks who aren’t necessarily your legal peers.
Anyway, in one of the talks, a speaker said she used Rescue Time, an online time- management/self-assessment tool. You know how Alison and I love talking about time management, so I decided I would try it out to see if I thought it could be helpful to our readers.
What could you learn by tracking your computer time?
Rescue Time doesn’t necessarily help you manage your time, but it alerts you to where you are spending your time while working on your computer. You can tell it what are productive activities and nonproductive activities. And it gives you some handy-dandy metrics to highlight where you spend your time. (For example, it highlights for me how much time I spend shopping online or reading the news—shockingly not my most productive time.)
So, why is this helpful? I must say that many law students don’t appreciate how they use their time, especially their computer time. I have recommended in the past that law students track their time (as they will when they meet the lovely billable hour) to find out where the hours of the day are going. I think computer work is one place where we struggle to stay focused. I know that I often find myself checking email or reading a news site without making the conscious decision to do so. Or every time the email inbox notes a new message, I stop working and switch gears. In fact, that has happened three times while writing this blog post!
By identifying where you spend time during the day, you can actually start to make deliberate decisions about what you do during your computer time.
This may actually help you save hours in a day. Not to say that shopping online or reading online news is something you shouldn’t do on the computer, but if you are trying to streamline your work hours, leaving these activities until after prime studying or working hours may help you get more done and feel less overwhelmed.
Multitasking really isn’t your friend.
Who here is guilty of over-multitasking? (My hand is raised, for sure.) As much as I consider myself a master multitasker, the more I learn the more I think that multitasking isn’t my friend.
How does a tool like Rescue Time help with this? Rescue Time can temporarily prevent you from turning to nonproductive activities, from visiting sites or opening windows on your computer that are not related to your work. (See, right now I just saw that two emails came in and I am having to fight the urge to leave this blog post to check them.)
This option for the time-management tool is part of the paid service (versus the free service), but I could see it being very helpful for law students. Of course, there is the free option of turning off your Wi-Fi and cell phone to get the same result, but for some reason (and hey, I am not throwing stones, here) we aren’t that good at walking away from connectivity.
Have you ever used Rescue Time or a similar tool to maximize your productivity? Please share your thought in the comments.
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Here are some other helpful posts:
- How the Internet Killed My Productivity
- A New Time Management Technique I’m Trying
- Time Management Tip: Think of Law School Like a Law Job
- How to Tackle Procrastination and Get the Law School Grades You Want
Image by channah via stock.xchng.
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Rescue Time sounds interesting–must check it out. What works best for me is a combination of the pomodoro method and actually blocking sites. I use Strict Workflow for Chrome, which blocks a list of sites you specify for a set period, then gives you a break. It can also only allow specified sites, so if the entire internet is the problem, that’s workable too. Super useful!
Nice tips! Thanks for sharing. It is always great to hear what works for different people.