In today’s fast paced world, time can often slip away from us. Most of us do not realize how much time we spend on things that aren’t helping us work towards our goals, whether they are professional or personal. Recently, there has been an explosion in apps, websites and services that claim to track your productivity and help you get back some of that lost time, but there are so many! How do you know which ones would be best for your situation? Are you looking to maximize your work performance? Already know you are addicted to time sucking websites? Are you looking for a reasonable solution for tracking the productivity of your team? We have taken a look at all of the offerings and put together the top 5 apps for tracking productivity, both at work and at home.

StayFocused

StayFocused is a very nifty tool that is available in an app or as a Chrome or Firefox extension. As such, it is extremely easy to find, install and get control of yourself again. StayFocused allows you to set time allowances for any website you know you spend too much time one, it also enables you to block websites altogether for set periods of time. The blocking options are quite extensive, including being able to only block certain types of media, such as videos or slideshows, and setting blocks only for specific pages in a website or navigation paths to those pages. The app also will track your time spend on any sites you visit and report that back to you. This app is mostly geared for someone looking to track themselves, but would also for an organization looking at team member productivity tracking.

Rescue Time

Rescue Time is fairly similar to StayFocused and offers similar features. Which one is best? That completely depends on your personal situation and what features you will utilize most often. I recommend trying and testing both to see which is your favorite. Rescue Time allows you set time limits for certain websites, to block yourself from visiting any site for any amount of time, create alerts and reminders to let you know when you are doing awesome or when you are drifting into the time-suck zone. You can also set goals for yourself, such as, “don’t visit Facebook all day” or “read 5 news articles today” and get reminders to work towards them. This app is also mostly geared for someone looking to track themselves, but would also for an organization looking at team member productivity tracking.

Harvest

Harvest is an app designed to make tracking time fun! This gamified time tracker and productivity tool is available as a Chrome extension, website or mobile app. It is especially suited for small business or personal tracking for business. It allows for quick and easy time entry; broken down into billable and non-billable time, and by client, internal tasks or by project. Along with the simple time tracking there are features for expense tracking, invoicing, online payment acceptance and auto-generated payment reminders. The best features of Harvest are its ease of use, ability to export detailed reports and also the amount of other apps or “add-ons” that can be integrated via REST APIs. Harvest is most geared for small businesses but would also work for an individual looking to track themselves and their value to their company.

WorkTime

Worktime is an interesting option because they offer 2 distinct levels of service. WorkTime Professional is great for an individual, or small team looking to track their performance, productivity and value. It has detailed reporting options, including where you spend your time, how much idle time you have, top websites you visit and for how long, etc. However, for you executives looking to maximize the productivity of your staff, they offer WorkTime Corporate, for internet, employee and computer monitoring. The corporate option will tell you how much time your employees spend where and on what tasks, how much idle time they have, what documents they use most, login and logout times, personal internet usage time (websites that constitute personal time are designated by the admin, be careful not to include any websites that employees go to for work, which may include Twitter, Facebook, Buzzfeed, etc.) This tool can be used responsibly to help motivate employees to perform their best but it must be done correctly. Overuse of spyware tactics, strict adherence to zero tolerance personal internet usage and activities of a similar nature can disenfranchise employees and have the opposite effect of what you wanted. When implementing a productivity tracking system, it’s important to be as transparent as possible with your staff, let them know you will be tracking, what you are looking for, what they can and can’t do, etc. Laying out the expectations in a clear and upfront manner will help ease the transition of the new monitoring… 30 minutes a day of personal internet time or other flexible time blocks can also help people decompress when they need to and stay on track.