The web, productive use of time or a hindrance?

Lets face it, we spend a whole load of time online nowadays. From waking up, to going to bed, from iPhone, to netbook to desktop. The web is getting everywhere.

It seems that we are not alone though – the UK has the most active online population in Europe, with the highest average number of daily visitors (21.8m), the highest usage days per month (21 per user), and the highest average time spent per month per person (34.4 hours). [Source: comScore via Econsultancy blog, June 2007]. Children are starting to increase their time online, and the Guardian has an interesting post here giving more details. In fact, recent research has shown that after their mobile phone, the internet is a teenagers most prized posession and the one that they do not want taking away from them (we know how they feel) πŸ˜‰

So, moving on… we know that more and more people are going about their daily lives spending more and more time online. But what exactly are they doing?

“In fact, what exactly are WE doing?”


Rescuetime is a very clever web-based application which tracks what you’re doing when you are at your computer and online. Having recently installed it it is starting to provide some very interesting statistics which, are going to be something we keep an eye on very carefully.

We all know that the use of technology and the many web-based apps can be VERY useful, organising your life and (hopefully) enhancing your productivity. On the flip side, if you use too many, it can soon become a burden, and there are plenty of ways to actively waste time when on your PC or Mac, surfing away! Rescuetime can drill down to show you exactly what you are doing, which sites you are on, what categories of activities you are doing, and once you start to have a decent amount of data, can show trends, and can even allow you to set goals.


So far, we have not got a lot of data loaded, so having had a close look at what web-based apps we use the most often, inital (unsubstantiated) thoughts are the following:

  • Gmail
  • Google Reader
  • Google Analytics
  • Email marketing software
  • WordPress for various sites (including this one)
  • Most of the 37signals apps

When looking at actual applications on the Macs, it would be:

  • iTunes
  • Billings 3 (invoicing)
  • tweetdeck for twitter
  • Pages
  • Lightroom

It shows a fairly broad range of applications, and for total clarity Firefox is the browser of choice at the moment, (which reminds us, do enter the poll at the end of the post on your browser preference!). With the acceleration of mobile devices, and the speed of access increasing (we hope), there can only be more of a shift to people running their lives on computer and online.

What traditional apps and web-based apps do you use and find useful? Sound off in comments!!

What browser do you use on a daily basis?

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6 Responses to “The web, productive use of time or a hindrance?”

  1. Jaan
    April 13, 2009 at 5:10 pm #

    I’m not in the UK so feel free to ignore my list πŸ™‚

    My daily tool box, in no particular order:
    Google Voice

  2. admin
    April 13, 2009 at 5:28 pm #

    Thanks Jaan! No ignoring required, very valid! πŸ™‚
    I need to add Dropbox to our list too – this is one of THE stand out web-apps this year.
    What do you think of Google Voice? We hope that it will be launched here soon, or perhaps Skydeck or Ribbit….

  3. Jaan
    April 13, 2009 at 8:37 pm #

    Google Voice has been working very well since the roll-out. Not the most intuitive app, but it does what it’s supposed to. Sound quality is very good. For the UK I have high hopes for Ribbit. Very curious to see where BT takes it.

  4. Dave
    April 13, 2009 at 9:26 pm #

    Hello – My names Dave, and it appear that I’m an i/net addict…

    …The Guardian article just reinforces my wife’s opinion that, having gone past the age of 40, I still have the mentality of a 14 year old.

    I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that Rescuetime doesn’t fully support Linux users, as i know that the i/net is just a black hole sucking my life away.

    Most of my online activity comes from my Netvibes reader:

    …which I had to zoom out quite a long way just to get on one screen grab


  5. David Rinnan
    April 13, 2009 at 10:06 pm #

    spaces + expose makes it work, at all
    firefox but on pc its chrome.
    omnifocus (some have tried beating it)
    evernote (does its thing with notes and outlines)
    skitch (you have tried it right?)
    nambu but on the pc its tweetdeck
    dropbox (sticks like glue to anyone I meet)
    skype + adium (not impressed at all)
    google reader
    iwork 09 + mac office
    ical (I have a list of features I would like)
    calculator (oh yeah!!!)
    rescue time (sweet)
    activity monitor….. (wish I didnt have to)

    if loosing focus is an issue try the app selfcontrol (osx) bet there are similar linux apps as well dave :).

    If I had only 2 apps it would be a browser and omnifocus.

  6. John Polling
    April 14, 2009 at 7:19 am #

    Mine are heavily geared towards web development

    Visual Studio 2008
    Resharper (VS plugin that improves productivity)
    MS SQL Server
    CC.Net for Continuous Integration – (I’ll talk about this in my Alt.Net talk ;-))
    Tortoise SVN + Subversion for source control
    NUnit and WatiN for testing
    TweetDeck (Twitterific on Mac)
    VMWare (running Visual Studio etc on Mac)
    Firefox (Safari on Mac)
    Notepad++ (TextMate on Mac)
    IIS Admin.Net

    Web Apps / Sites:
    Pivotal Tracker (Project planning)
    Google Groups for asking questions when I get stuck

    Quite a nerdly list I’m afraid!

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