The Problem with Rescue Time

Last June I wrote a post outlining my typical day, with the post-end call to action to bring more balance into my life, specifically by not working so many hours. Back then, I was typically sleeping 4-5 hours per night, working 7 days a week (that was a very unhealthy 120 hours per week), and very rarely taking time out to spend time with family or friends.

I haven’t solved the problem — far from it — but it has gotten a little better. On average these days I work about 80 hours a week. I try to make sure that involves taking at least a little time off over the weekend to get outside away from the computer. Having my mom live nearby now makes this easier: 1) if she calls and asks me to do something with her, I feel guilty saying no, and 2) if I drive to the store I often stop to say hi since she lives across the street. So that forces me to get out a little more. Starting the WordPress meetup group in Savannah also creates a little enforced interaction, though it’s not exactly a break from work to spend 2 hours helping people learn to use WordPress. I also started using Rescue Time, and I try to force myself to stop working before I hit 80 hours. There’s a problem with measuring yourself with Rescue Time, though. Several problems, actually. Here’s the chart for me for the past week:

My efficiency compared to othersMy efficiency throughout the day

The first problem is not that big a deal. My job involves reading, commenting, and writing on a lot of blogs. hosts more than 100 private P2s for the company, and though I don’t track all of them, I’m in and out of quite a few. By default, Rescue Time thinks blogs are Very Distracting, so unless I go in and change the status on individual sites that are work-related, a lot of my work blog stuff gets inaccurately rated, hurting my efficiency rating.

The second problem is the thing that really bugs me. Mornings are really efficient for me. No one else is awake usually, since I start working at 6:30am right after I make Morgan’s lunch and send her off to school. My routine involves playing whatever TV downloaded the night before while I blast through the accumulated emails and P2 posts from work blogs (this is also the default for a chunk of my weekend work time). I get an email with every Trac comment/commit, every P2 post from the team blogs that I do follow, plus all the email I get from WordPress community members.

Trac and P2 emails don’t usually require my full attention to skim through, deleting the stuff that doesn’t require follow-up and saving the stuff that does. I spend an hour (or sometimes 2, depending on how busy the other side of the world was while I slept) doing this initial skim propped up in bed with my laptop while half-watching some show or other. Because I use a Mac, I have the handy ability to act on the mail and/or browser windows with two-finger scroll, even when that window is not in focus, just by hovering over an area of display. This means, for example, that I can make the Quicktime window be bigger by having it in focus/on top of the mail/browser chrome, so that my peripheral vision picks up more of the visual story while I power through the inbox, deleting away though it’s never brought into focus.

Rescue Time tracks the in focus window. So despite clearing though a hundred or two emails and reading through a few dozen P2 threads, Rescue Time thinks I’m just watching Very Distracting video, not doing any work.

This also hits me if I grab a sketchbook to draw some ideas for a UI or to make lists. If I’m doing that, I’ll often put in focus so that if I don’t like a song I can skip it more quickly, or I’ll pull up one of those downloaded TV episodes so I can listen while I draw (I try to have ambient sound at least half the day, so I don’t go into hermit mode more than I already do).

Does it really matter that the tracking isn’t completely accurate or representative? No. Whether it thinks I’m 80% efficient or 60% or 30%, I know how much I get done in a day. And I still need to ratchet down the number of hours I work, and rather quickly if I’m going to get down to the equivalent of one full-time job before the Jitterbug opens. Still, I’m enough of a Type A that getting an email that downplays what I’ve done rankles just enough to matter. So I might stop using Rescue Time. Right after I get the weekly summary down to 50 hours per week or less.

Save the Dolphins!

World’s smallest dolphin under threat from nets as species reduced to just 55 survivors | Mail Online.

At Tybee we have regular old bottlenose dolphins, and seeing them off the coast or in the river always makes my day. Seeing another type of dolphin be eliminated from the face of the planet due to poor fisheries management is very sad. Nets in general are just evil… we consume so much fish that the fishing industry needs them to be profitable, but even with adaptations to help prevent by-catch and accidental sea turtle or dolphin death, a lot of death occurs. I think it’s time I revisited my pescetarian ways and limit myself to wild line-caught fish.

My own personal habits aside, I hope the New Zealand government takes action to protect the few remaining Maui dolphins and/or engage with a marine wildlife organization for a long-term sustainability plan, probably including some type of breeding program. I fear that hope is in vain, though. 😦

Gravatar Saves the Day!

I flew to Austin on Sunday. I was meeting Matt for tea on my way to the airport, and as a result I rushed out of the house without my usual pre-travel checks. When I got to the airport I discovered that I had neither my driver’s license nor my passport with me. Crap!

I thought this would mean I couldn’t fly, but as it turns out, there’s a list of things you can show that aren’t government-issued IDs to get through security with some additional screening. I showed them 3 credit cards and checks I had printed on my computer, but they really needed something with a photo on it so they could be confident I was me.

Hello, gravatar-included business cards! I’ve always been a big fan and proponent of putting gravatars in business cards (like Automattic does), because it provides a better post-event experience after connecting with people at WordCamps and other conferences. Who you are online gets more firmly connected to who you are in person, an makes it easier to remember conversations afterward. At least it does for me.

In this case the gravatar on my business card saved the day — and the SXSW WordPress Party, because if I’d had to drive home to get my ID, the chances of getting a new flight to Austin would have been pretty slim. So! The next time you’re having cards made, consider including your gravatar. It just might save you someday.

Poem for Kevin’s Birthday

My friend and co-worker Kevin Conboy‘s birthday was yesterday. I’ve known him since 2000. Since everyone still called me Jen. Since before I started dying my hair.

I posted this originally on a company blog. It is a terrible poem, but it hits the high points of our relationship. There is a factual error in the first line. When I wrote it I was thinking we met when I moved to Denver in 1999, but now that I think of it, I started at Spire in February 2000. The whitewater catchphrases at the end of each stanza, however, are 100% true. 🙂


We met before the Y2k, you said
the cell phone didn’t like me and
we picked out a pinball machine.

You yelled at me for my first blog that year,
“Center OR left align,” you steamed.
I went with left, obviously.
Good goin’, pardner!

The golden summer of Spire, that was it.
Lunch, ice cream, napster, rent, blue note,
and celebrity jeopardy.

I left for Vermont with your mix CD:
Nosering Girl and Morrissey, yo.
Freelance, Ocean Navigator.
No way out!

We carried an iMac home from Brooklyn —
I still have that gorgeous machine!
Then thank you treats at Veniero’s.
Insanity Falls.

I thought you were sick of Wall Street data
So I said, “Matt, I have this friend…”
And there goes another birthday.
Ride the whirlpool!

P.S. Kevin is also backing the Jitterbug!

WordPress Consultant Time for Jitterbug Contributions?

Pete Mall did an awesome thing:

Then George Mamdashvili (mamaduka) said:

Should I?

If I add extra contributor rewards for the $100 level for an hour of ‘pick my brain’/consulting from any of the participating WordPress types, that would be kind of cool, because then I could tally up how much $ came in via those guys, and I could give them the appropriate cumulative reward (vs a contributor getting the care package, shirt, mug, etc and the generous consultant not being recognized). Anyone who wanted to limit the number of people who could redeem the offer could specify how many to limit it to and be listed individually – if there are only a couple, then might as well list everyone individually for easier tracking.

So does this sound like a good idea? Anyone else want to contribute by way of donating an hour of consulting time?

P.S. You can back the Jitterbug on Kickstarter.

Friday Jitterbug Progress Report – 2/24

Welcome te the first weekly Jitterbug Progress Report! I’m putting aside-type updates on the blog, and I’ll start doing updates for the kickstarter backers, but since this is the permanent archive of all things Jane, thought I’d do weekly summaries here. Here’s what’s up:

  • Opened the Jitterbug fundraising campaign on on Wednesday afternoon. So far it’s up to $1,995. (Plus $1,475 from the pre-kickstarter paypal contributions) Thank you to everyone who’s pitched in so far!
  • The refurbished espresso machine I’d hoped to buy from Espresso Southeast was no longer available. Looking at alternate machines, but the luddite in me is wondering if I could buy 10 Presso machines instead and do hand-pressed espresso to order. Insert hand-pressed/WordPress/espresso puns here. If I put a W sticker on it, it would be a WordPresso. (Seriously, though, that would be freakin’ cool, yeah?)
  • Called the Presso distributor and have a machine on its way to me to try with the Perc coffee.
  • Met with Philip from Perc to discuss the coffee/espresso setup in the space. Looks like we’ll need some minor construction, possibly some plumbing and electrical work. Unless, of course, I go with the Presso plan, in which case it might just be some construction.
  • Confirmed participation as a booth for the Tybee Island Wine Festival April 14. Probable menu of giveaways: Greek pasta salad, mini mint chip cookies, key lime cupcakes, cardamom peach coffee cake, honey peach iced green tea.
  • Planning on soft launch April 15 with limited hours, grand opening in May.
  • Bank account set up.
  • Looked into eco-friendly to-go packaging, composting, water-saving measures, etc.
  • Considered trying to get kosher-certified at the suggestion of Adam from my co-working space. Turns out it’s not just an inspection and more expensive cheese, it’s complete religious oversight of the place. Not for me, sorry.
  • Business license meetings today.

Coming Up:

  • Clean up logo for Wine Fest marketing.
  • Design stickers and tees.
  • Make construction, painting, furnishing plans.
  • Test kitchen.
  • Contact some local people about publicizing the kickstarter campaign.
  • Send in supplier account applications.
  • Revise budget.

A Bakery? Also, OMGOMGOMG!

This post has the potential to be as long as the scarf I made Matt for his birthday. Knowing that, I’ll try to keep it short and to the point. Opportunity knocked last week and I decided to answer. No, I’m not leaving WordPress or Automattic; get your mind out of the gutter. The owner of a small restaurant here on Tybee (Charly’s) is retiring and selling his place, and $10,000 was plunked down as a deposit to buy it so that it could house:
Jitterbug: eat. drink. blog.
I want to turn it into a bakery/internet cafe/WordPressy community gathering space. Bake in the morning to force some non-computer time, then do my usual WP stuff in the lulls. I wrote a 20-page business plan full of stats and projections, and some smart money types tell me it looks good. But wait! I’ve spent all my money in the last few years on things like raising my brother’s kids, buying braces for same, helping my mom buy her house down here, and stuff like that. I am broke! I can’t afford to turn this place into the vision of awesomeness I see in my head, despite the below-market price and my plan to take a loan out against my 401k. So: crowdfunding!

The project — the Jitterbug Bakery — was accepted to Kickstarter yesterday, and on Monday once I finish their project setup, I’ll launch a fundraising campaign there. I also set up a WordPress site with a paypal plugin for the non-Kickstarter types, which would mean less lost to fees. If you want to help me make this thing a reality, I’d love it if you’d pitch in (rewards range from my brownies and Jitterbug swag to website setups and reviews), but will in no way hold it against you if you don’t.

small green house with a deck with seating

The building in question: the future Jitterbug

Did you know a decent refurbished espresso setup costs up to $15k? And I don’t even drink coffee!

So if you ever thought to yourself, “I wish I could buy Jane a [drink, dinner, iPad, car] to show her how much I appreciate all she does,” here’s your chance! I’ll provide the drinks and dinner if you come visit the Jitterbug, I don’t like iPads, and I have a car I like. I put up a site at that is pretty much just what it sounds like. It has all the info on what I (we, if you include my mom and Morgan!) want to create for my local community. The Contribute page has a donation widget at the bottom. Yes, a bit hidden. The Personal Fundraising plugin I wanted to use was pretty and awesome but more trouble than it was worth. If you’re a Kickstarter type of person, I’ll update this post by Monday when the project goes live there.

If you ever really loved me, help me buy a bakery!