Track your online distraction with RescueTime

Our language is pretty well-suited to describe how we focus. We don’t “burn” attention, we “pay” it – and it’s pretty easy to find ourselves in a deficit. The saying “time is money” is true not only in the practice of law but also in its study, where grades and ranking can make or break you. It’s not a bad idea to start guarding your attention and your time as tightly as you do your bank accounts.

In order to guard your attention, you must be able to measure where it goes and be able to track your progress. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a piece of software that would help you track your activity on the computer? Well, you are in luck! RescueTime is a personal analytics service that shows you how you spend your time and provides tools to help you be more productive. RescueTime sits in the background of your computer and tracks whatever you pay attention to. It watches every website you visit and every window you have open on your desktop, and measures your productivity. It is also customizable so that you can give it a list of websites that are good and those that are bad. Every week, RescueTime will send you an email giving you a productivity score. The goal, of course, is to make sure that, at the very least, your score doesn’t go up.

There is a free version available that allows you to:

  • Track time in applications, websites, and mobile apps.
  • Rank your productivity on a per-app, per-site basis.
  • See your efficiency and attention trends over time.

The subscription service offers the above but will also:

  • Block distracting websites for short bursts of quality focus.
  • Get document-level insight into where your time goes.
  • Create goals and track your progress towards them.
  • Track offline time, such as meetings and phone calls.

Download RescueTime at It’s also available as a Firefox add-on.

W. Blake Wilson, Head of Instructional and Research Services