Stop Wasting Time by Understanding where it goes with RescueTime

PTs: Why does Admin take so long?
Find out where your time goes + other productivity Hacks.

“When it comes down to monitoring leaks in the boat called ‘The SS Productivity’, these tools simply don’t work. Nobody will self-report ‘I spent 21 minutes watching videos on Facebook that weren’t really that important.’”

When reviewing your calendar for the week just gone, it can be pretty easy to see how much time was spent with clients.

You might also add travel time either side of your sessions, a lunch break, and time between sessions to get ready.

You can probably estimate that you spent about 20 mins a day following up on emails, and you confess to wasting time on Facebook for a moment or two.
But where does all your time go? Something doesn’t add up.

For the full-time PT, it is unlikely that they’re spending more than 30+ hours directly training clients each week.
Chances are though, that the hours you are ‘working’ each week might add up to a lot more than 40.

The problem that hurts here is that – with exception to time spent writing programs, time away from the gym isn’t attributable to income. In fact, the less time you spend directly working on clients, the less money you will make.

We all need time to work on our business – and that is the structured work we do each week that directly leads to brand growth. But just as we should give our clients our undivided attention, the time we spend on our business must be given the same focus.

How long do you actually spend writing training programs?

You might say that it only takes you 10-15 minutes to write a custom plan for your clients, and that might be true.
But when we sit down at our computers to type them up or get things ready, we seem to enter a Bermuda triangle of distraction.

RescueTime: Distraction Killer. Don't fall into the Bermuda Triangle of Productivity

Just let me check that Facebook post comments..aaaand it’s 9pm.

Understanding where your time actually goes can help you build structure around your planned admin sessions.
And most importantly, keep away from the things that distract you most.

There’s a number of tools available to solo-preneurs / small businesses for time-tracking (such as Toggl) – but they have one weak link in the chain: You.
Time tracking tools that are aimed at professionals usually require a level of self-reporting – what you’re working on; which client– that makes life for those billing by the hour easy.

Having one of these tools is a must for online coaches – particularly if you include (time limited) coaching calls in your services.

But when it comes down to monitoring leaks in the boat called ‘The SS Productivity’, these tools simply don’t work. Nobody will self-report ‘I spent 21 minutes watching videos on Facebook that weren’t really that important.’
Most won’t even know that it actually was 21 minutes, and will assume that it was “probably about 5 or 10 minutes, tops.”

Did you just take a 3 hour tour of IMDB?

Plug the hole

Fastest way to fix a leak is to plug the hole, right?

This isn’t always feasible – particularly if a source of distraction for you is sometimes a necessity, like accessing Facebook to manage and respond to questions on a group.
Blocking Facebook and deleting the app from the phone might help with limiting your little distractions, but might impede the way you operate your business.

Obviously, if there are apps that you waste time on that add absolutely no value to your life, get rid of them. You’re not helping others by playing Candy Crush.

Scheduled Blocking

Under the ‘productivity’ section of apps on the app store and sometimes featured in articles on LifeHacker are services that will help block distractions. On a schedule, that is.

Some of these are great – and offer a way to do things like:

‘Block Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat (etc)’ between 12:00am and 12:00pm, and block again between 2:00pm and 11:59pm.’

This will allow you to check the sites blocked between Noon and 2pm.

This solution might work for you, where you can be regimented around those apps that are distracting (but sometimes useful).

The downside to this is that it won’t report to the user exactly where their time is going – it’ll just prohibit them from using those services altogether.

What I Use + Recommend: RescueTime

I’ve been around the block in terms of productivity apps that restrict distractions.
So many of these applications and services exist today, simply because we know that we are subject to distraction.
We know that willpower isn’t enough – we don’t trust ourselves to consume distractions responsibly.

The service I personally recommend is an application that works on your Mac, PC, iPhone, Android, and other devices – which is a combination of blocking and reporting: RescueTime.

RescueTime allows a user to get a very, very comprehensive understanding of where they are slipping their time, presenting in the manor of pretty graphs + weekly roll-up emails.

RescueTime - Screenshot


At time of writing, I am not using the blocking feature on my mobile, since I already use a separate schedule blocking app. I use QualityTime (Android Only), since it also allows the blocking of non- web-based Apps (such as Photo Gallery, Email).
RescueTime is the tool that I use to block sites on my Laptop – my primary tool for business.

RescueTime will also help remove the distraction altogether (by Blocking access), as well as telling you how much time you’re wasting on each distracting app or site.
It blocks you from using these sites by running a ‘Focused Time’ session – more on that in a moment.

By Default – RescueTime has a number of built-in categories for usage, as well as a prediction of whether you find it Distractive or Productive.
These can of course be customised and changed.
I’m not as subject to distraction on Facebook anywhere near as much as I am on YouTube or Wikipedia – but both of those can be quite useful for business.
Ultimately, you have total control – and if things are neither distracting or productive, there’s an option for that too.


Clock in, Clock out

I have RescueTime running on my devices 24×7, since I don’t tend to keep strict regular working hours. I also don’t want to feel free to spend 3 hours on Instagram just because “it’s 9pm and the workday is over.”
If this isn’t one of your desired outcomes, you can set hours where RescueTime will ignore everything you are doing, and won’t take statistics.


Goals are a huge feature of RescueTime – little motivators to keep you going.
My main goal is ‘At least 5 hours per day of time marked as Productive or Very Productive’.
Goals also refer to things you wish to limit, such as ’Use Instagram for less than 30 mins per day.’

RescueTime - Screenshot

You can be notified of reaching a daily goal by Email or a Pop-up notification on your computer or iPhone/Android.

You can also do things that are much more sinister, for extra motivation to avoid those distractions you Just Know you should avoid. See the Integration section for examples.

RescueTime - Screenshot

Time to Focus

Focused Time is a feature of RescueTime that will automatically schedule distraction-free usage of your devices.

During this period, you can either have RescueTime block the page for 15 seconds – giving you a chance to ask yourself ‘Do I really need to be on YouTube right now?’
But if you’re anything like me, their hardcore, no-ifs-or-buts Focused Time is the choice for you.
If RescueTime is running a Focused Time session, forget about accessing blocked sites for the remainder of your session.

RescueTime Says No! *cough*


Basic use of RescueTime is Free.
You can use RescueTime on your devices with their ‘lite’ version, no charge.
This will allow you to gain some insight and understanding as to where your time goes. However, integrations, detailed reporting, blocking, alerting, and goals are features of the Premium edition – which runs at a very reasonable USD$72/yr.

The amount of time (read: money) that I have saved, as well as the emotional torture of kicking my own ass for falling in a rabbit-hole for 2 hours is priceless.

“You’ll discover things about yourself that will make you wonder how you ever got any work done without RescueTime.”
– Alexis Ohanian, Founder of

Sign up for a free RescueTime account and give it a red hot go, or learn more about the premium features here.

As promised – here’s some Gucci things you can do with RescueTime, in combination with other tools and services:


RescueTime allows you to connect it to a number of apps that you already use.

They have about a dozen services/apps at time of writing that they natively integrate with – meaning they don’t need anything in the middle.

You may also use RescueTime with services such as IFTTT or Zapier to integrate with hundreds of other apps and services.

Some people even get RescueTime to flash lamps or lights in their home on and off when they’re procrastinating for too long. – This can be done with IFTTT + Philips Hue.

The way I use RescueTime Integrations:

  • Create a calendar entry in my Google Calendar for whenever I have started a ‘focus session’
  • Automatically puts my phone on silent when I’m in a focus session, and returns it normal when it has ended. (Via IFTTT).
  • Scans my Google Calendar for events that have the words ‘Meeting’, ‘Consult,’ ‘Lunch’ or ‘Writing.’ If any events start that have those keywords, it will put my phone on silent + block distracting websites.
  • When I spend more than 45 mins on websites or apps categorised as ‘Distracting’ or ‘Highly Distracting’ on a weekday, it sends me an SMS telling me to cut the crap. (via IFTTT).
  • When I spend more than 1hr 30mins on Distracting websites or apps in any given day, it will send a Slack message to people in my mastermind group telling them that I’m an epic procrastinator today.
    This is brutal. It has only happened once, and I didn’t let it happen again. I also didn’t tell them that it was going to happen, so they were a bit shocked to say the least.


  • When I spend more than 5 hours on websites or apps listed as ‘Productive’ or ‘Highly Productive,’ it gives me a high five.
  • At 9pm every day, it blocks websites I have told it are ‘distracting’ or worse.
  • If I spend more than 10hrs on a computer per day (it happens…) it tells me to take a break, and blocks everything for half an hour.


What do you think?

Do you use RescueTime already? Do you use something completely different that works well for you?

Let us know – leave a comment, get in touch, completely up to you.


RescueTime give us some love for sending traffic their way. But as always, we would never recommend a product or service that we didn’t already use, love, and would tell friends and family about without any affiliate incentives.



Additional Reading

‘Why Procrastinators Procrastinate’ – Wait, But Why?