Using Online Tools to Save Time During the Search

Jon Gray was manager of planning and analysis at Xsigo Systems, a San Jose-based technology start-up. He was laid off in November 2008, after almost two years with the company. Previously, Mr. Gray, 34, spent seven years in various finance roles at Symantec Corp. (SYMC), a security software maker. He lives in Los Gatos, Calif.

My productivity lapses don’t come from Facebook. My problem is a combination of world news sites and Twitter. Using RescueTime, an online time management tool, I’ve named two productivity goals for myself. One goal sets my unproductive time at less than 90 minutes per day. The other sets my highly productive time at greater than five hours per day. After setting up these goals, I’ve been able to monitor what applications I use, what internet sites I visit, and the exact duration of both. It quickly becomes painfully clear how easily I can become distracted and miss these goals. As I only report to myself, this tool is obviously self-policing, but it has been extremely useful to see when I’m not being as focused as I need to be. For example, I’ve adjusted my morning time with a cup of coffee and reading the news from 45 minutes down to about 15.

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