Thursday, November 13, 2008

TimeSnapper against MultiTasking

I have been working at Dotway now, for almost two weeks. When your environment change, there's a good opportunity for changing habits as well. So, I started with the habit of using TimeSnapper every morning. TimeSnapper is a tool that takes a screenshot every 5 seconds or so, and has the ability to "play" the images, as a movie. The movie obviously has a higher image frequency than 5 seconds, so a whole day takes approximately 5-10 minutes to play.

Essentially, you gain the ability to self-monitor - seeing yourself in third person. Early and frequent feedback is a really good thing to have in most areas, like TDD for development or Scrum for projects. In my opinion, TimeSnapper gives the same kind of early and frequent feedback. So, every morning I play the movie of yesterday, write down the activities in time intervals, analyse my behavior, and ask myself the question "What should I do today that make my morning analysis more joyful tomorrow?". Let me explain..

I don't like when I'm forced to write: "08:00-11:00, XX:ed, YY:ed and ZZ:ed" - that's not really informative, i.e., how much time did I spent on XX, compared to YY? But it's not the logging problem in itself that I have problems with, it's that I know that it's bad for productivity to multitask, but still I do it. Without knowing it as well, it seems. Constantly context switching is bad for productivity. So, I should only focus on one task simultaneously to make tomorrow morning a good start at the day.

Look, if you're using GTD (a nice time management methodology), but instead of doing something useful instead read LifeHacker (a nice site/blog) every 10th minute, something is utterly wrong! Not really getting things done, are you? Though, it can be hard to see for yourself. TimeSnapper lets you visualize your behaviour at the computer, putting your (potentially) multi-tasking in an embarrasingly bright light to yourself.

Thanks to Scott Hanselman for making the tools list where I found TimeSnapper.

As a side note, I really like 43folders' new direction. Or, at least, this particular post.