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Tom's Guide to Time Tracking Tools

Rescue Time

Rescue Time provides one of the best sets of insightful data-rich statistics on time usage of any of the applications tested for this review.

time tracking tools

Rescue Time’s online dashboard has myriad options for viewing and manipulating data. Time Spent, Categories, Tags, Apps and Sites are all top-level categories that you can see from the main dashboard by default. The Tag part is user configurable, though there is an auto tag feature.

By default, there is a user-configurable productivity and efficiency score on the main dashboard, though there are good default options as well. It’s dead easy to see how efficient you are on any given day or in any period.

Very detailed time tracking isn’t all that Rescue Time offers. There is also an option to set goals. For example, you can set a goal to spend a certain amount of time on a type of task. The dashboard will then provide a data view of how your actual activity stacks up against the goals you set for yourself. With goal tracking there is even an alert system that sends an email when a goal is achieved. Goal tracking is also available via a Goal RSS Feed.

time tracking tools

If you don’t want to be tethered to the Rescue Site you can embed certain data sets as widgets. The widgets are limited to top-10 apps, sites and activities. The widget itself is written in JavaScript and can be embedded wherever you’re able to use JavaScript, such as on your blog or on an intranet network.

time tracking tools

While widgets, RSS and email alert capabilities are useful features, there is little to nothing that is directly available on your desktop if you don’t have an Internet connection. It would be helpful if there were some kind of offline capability, though it’s not a terrible shortcoming. Unless, of course, the Rescue Time site is down or slow, which didn’t happen during our testing (but that’s not to say it doesn’t happen).

In the version we tested, Rescue Time also did not have the ability to export data for use in a spreadsheet or an accounting application.

For individuals, Rescue Time is currently offered as a free service. There is also a Business Teams version that allows for tracking multiple users (did someone say Big Brother?). This service costs $7.95 a month for the first six users and $7.95 for each additional user after that.