A few weeks ago I started using something called ActivityWatch. It all started when I heard someone talking about a program called Rescue Time that keeps track of what you do on your computer and tracks how you are spending your time. It sounded like a neat idea. But when I checked into it I noticed it required an online account and it looked like data was saved online.
So I thought I would see what alternative I could find. That is when I found the open source project called ActivityWatch. I like to run open source software when I can so I definitely had to check this out!
How ActivityWatch works
ActivityWatch keeps all the data local. With all the data breaches lately local data is a good thing. You also do not need to worry about yet another account.
Ones you get it set up it will keep track of what window has the focus and how long you are in them. You can also install plug-ins in your browser to keep detailed info about what pages you spend time on.
Then when you want to view this data you can click a link or shortcut to go to a locally hosted web page that has the reports.
Problems with ActivityWatch
The program seems to work well. But I have noticed if I do not turn it off before I shut down the computer then I will get a random blue screen during the shutdown process. It does not seem to happen every time so I am not sure what causes it. Surely something they will fix in newer versions.
For now, as long as I right click and close ActivityWatch in the system tray before shutting down then I have no problem.
I have been playing with it for about a week. In that time it has already given me insights into my productivity and the way I use my time. One day I did not realize I spent most of the day watching talks about programming languages.
I will probably keep using this software from time to time and the fact that it is open source is a bonus in my opinion. So if you are interested in a product like this then try ActivityWatch first before you spend money on something else. It is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac. You have nothing to lose!