Image representing RescueTime as depicted in C...
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Ready to learn more about how you spend your time than you may really want to know? Welcome to RescueTime. This program is one of the easiest ways I’ve found to monitor productivity.

Installing a simple program keeps track of the websites I visit and the programs I run.  Simple configuration allows me to train the system to know that some sites are work related. Google, in my case, is more often “Business:Operations” rather than “Research”.    And when Rescue Time doesn’t recognize a site or program, you get to categorize the time.

The result is a series of regularly updated reports that show how much productive time I’m spending.  I knew, for example, that the sites I visit each morning took some time.   I was surprised to learn the time some mornings was more than double.  I also set the system to alert me when I spent an hour each day on “very distracting” applications or sites. Those site visits mount up fast.   (cough) Eventually I found myself with dozens of hours in the database.

Like many businesspeople, I spent far too much time in email.  There was also a lot of time in Excel.  The real findings were the 5 and 10 minute visits to other sites.  During a week, that time added up too. I remember reading a Bill Gates quote that he and Steve Ballmer would exchange calendars and critique each others time.  Since Ballmer is apparently busy, I used Rescue Time.    The program runs quietly in the background, doesn’t seem to use too many resources and is a good bargain at $64/year or only $8/month. Try it for a month or two and see what time you can rescue.

Note: Joe & the RescueTime team just wrote and suggested we share with everyone there is a referral program.  I had seen that and promptly forgot all about it.  So the link was here changed to a referral link.  If you decide to install RescueTime, you get 2 weeks free for others you refer and 4 weeks if they get a paid account.

We were working with a client recently and the easy project management tools were proving to be too limited.  Although both can take a long period to learn how to effectively use, we already knew how to use Microsoft Visio and Microsoft Project.   Most of our small business clients don’t need that layer of complexity, but this client’s needs are global and involve multiple vendor-partner-collaborators.

Did you know that Microsoft allows free 60 day trials of its software? Why?  The same reason everyone who trials a product does.  In that 60 day period, you might find you really need or want the product.  So far, Microsoft is 1-1 with me.  I did purchase one piece of software and am now trialing the latest versions of the others.

Here’s the smart business practice:  even if I don’t buy, I’ve had a hands-on demo for two months at almost zero variable cost to the company. You can access Microsoft software trials (no, not an affiliate link) here.

Executive Summary:   If you don’t have a substantial cost of goods or time investment, let prospects try your product.  Stop clinging to a direct response model that requires a sale, especially with a software or service product.  Two things: don’t cripple the functionality because your goal is a purchase and make sure that the prospect would have an ongoing need for this offering.