End of year wrap-up: using apps to track my year’s productivity

I’ve signed up for a number of premium accounts over the year for productivity apps and trackers—part of the semi-realistic appeal of an ‘organized self’ that I strive for as a project manager but never quite attain. I thought I’d try to make something of it this year, as well as data from all of the apps I use to track things like my steps, books I’ve read, music, and more.

This was my first full year of freelancing and working from home, and I hit some big milestones for myself as the months went by:

  • April-May 2015 – went to 2 conferences (shout-out to #CreateUpstate and #PeersConf!) and took my first full vacation since I’ve started working for myself (actually, possibly the first one in years)
  • August 2015 – visited San Antonio for a month and worked from Texas
  • September 2015 – sold almost all of my belongings and moved back to my parents’ place in Upstate NY
  • October 2015 -Picked up an exciting contract with a ‘big-name’ client. Spoke at DPM Summit, reconnected with old friends, made lots of new friends.
  • November 2015 -Took a one-week road trip back to Texas with my cat. Met 2 remote coworkers. Moved to San Antonio, TX
  • December 2015 – Signed a lease for an apartment in Austin, TX.

I also went through some rapid fire attempts to date again (with varying levels of success, but it was an experience), a bad few months of anxiety and depression, saw one of my best friends get married, and took more yoga classes than I ever have in my life. It’s been a whopper of a year.

Contract work
This year I picked up 3 new contracts, ended 2, and lost 1. While those numbers are small, I work best with longer-term contracts (3-6 months or multiple, ongoing years), 2-3 at a time—so I did really well.

My freelance contracts have been for work in:

  • Project management (direct between agency and clients)
  • Project management (in-house, direct to client)
  • Consulting: internal processes
  • Consulting: project management teams


Work Productivity
I used RescueTime to track my daily activities this year, since I tend to forget to start/stop timers when working on tasks. Throughout these past few months, I’ve tracked about 1,227 hours on my computer, though that number is probably at least half wrong (I installed RescueTime Pro a few months into the year, and later in the year bought a new computer and forgot to install RescueTime for at least a month). This time also doesn’t include time spent browsing on my iPad or iPhone. I’m not sure what numbers are normal, low, or gross compared to the rest of the working world, and I don’t really care – but I’m interested to see if these hours change in the next year or two for me.

Screenshot 2015-12-13 13.09.58

How this data actually helped me
Partway through the year I noticed that Gmail was my biggest use of time by far compared to all other applications. I usually have work accounts and my personal Gmail account open at all times, and almost always Gchat with friends and colleagues throughout the day. While this has helped me feel like a part of a network (even while working from home), and also keep up with friends and family across the country, I was shocked by the numbers and stopped logging into my personal Gmail account regularly during the work week. It was a huge distraction to me and often led to more stress in switching between conversations, tasks, and other work communication.

Looking at this list now, Slack is a huge part of my day as well. I’m a part of 5-6 Slack groups on any given day, with 2 being primarily work use, and one being a community of other professionals/friends in the line of work that I do, so I find that time valuable. At least 2 accounts are directly with clients I’m working for through other agencies, and generally get low usage during the day. However, I often will feel overwhelmed by multiple lines of communication open to me and have since minimized the number of notifications I get across all channels and networks. That’s helped me a lot, but can definitely still be improved.

According to Spotify’s Year in Music, I listened to 9,933 minutes of music this year, mainly consisting of the Punch Brothers, Beyonce, Jay Z, Sufjan Stevens, and Jack White.

I finished 52 books (tracked on Goodreads), my strongest year for reading in a long time. I mainly read fiction (dystopian, science fiction, and mysteries), along with a handful of work-related books (business, web/design/development books, leadership), and felt more comfortable realizing what kinds of books I hate…or are just written poorly (#readyplayerone).


I walked the most steps in August, while in San Antonio without a car, and while a friend was visiting. Makes sense. My record was ~22,000 steps in a day during that time. My all-time low was about 20 or so steps a few days while working late and living at my parents’ place.

I flew 9,455 miles, took 8 trains, visited Philadelphia twice, Aruba once, San Antonio twice (and moved there), NYC and Austin both a handful of times, drove to Syracuse, Nashua, Boston, Baltimore, Louisville, Jackson (MS), and Baton Rouge.

I hit 10k tweets and quickly surpassed that (yikes) and sent more emails than I’d like to know about. I started listening to podcasts and quickly became addicted to them, watched Mad Max: Fury Road in theaters 6 times (whoops), saw 2 plays, 4 shows (Sufjan Stevens, Josh Groban, and 2 days worth of the FreshGrass festival)—all amazing.

Looking forward to 2016!