Measure Efficiency with Time – A Review of Manic Time

Do you waste time on your computer? My guess is you do. If you are like 66% of Americans, you waste time on your computer and wish you didn’t waste as much. I’m pretty sure you other 34% don’t have a computer or maybe waste time on a tablet or mobile device. When it comes to being efficient, losing track of time is a serious problem.

It is important to measure how efficient you are currently being with your time. When it comes to the time on the computer, Manic Time can help you with your time efficiency measurement needs. Manic Time automatically tracks which program on your computer is currently the active window, and every 5 seconds logs the current active window. The log should give you a fairly accurate idea of which windows and tabs you use. The program automatically stops recording data when the computer is not active.

The free version of Manic Time has all the features that an average person would use to track their computer usage time. The paid version mostly adds features that businesses would use for billing purposes.

Manic Time allows you to tag individual programs, tabs, or files under certain categories such as “productive,”  “fun,” or whatever you come up with.  Word documents might be classified as “productive” and Excel files classified as “fun” (I can’t help it… the engineer in me loves Excel).  Reddit or Facebook might be classified as “unproductive.” You can classify any program as productive or unproductive as it fits you.

Manic Time also has an array of options to help you visually understand and analyze where your time is going.  Here are a few screenshots of the data Manic Time can generate.

Manic Time Screen Shot

Manic Time Screen Shot2


Finally I want to say there is nothing wrong with decompressing and wasting time on the computer, but this tool can help you be aware of that time.

I did not receive any form of compensation for this review. It is just my honest opinion. If you have another time tracking software that you think I’m missing out on let me know I’d love to check it out.

Measuring Efficiency with Money

This week I’m excited to start talking about the efficient use of capital. The efficient use of money is a topic that I think gets far too little lip service in everyday conversation.

How you use your money is a direct reflection of either your mission, vision, or values.

I want to begin by discussing a few tools that can be used to measure the efficient use of money.  On some level everyone has a SMART goal related to using money more efficiently.  The Specifics, Achievability, Relevance and Time bounds of the SMART goals vary slightly for every person, but Measurement is the same.  Therefore, I want to focus on a couple of tools used for money and the “M” of the SMART goal, Measurement.

  1. The first tool is called an income statement.

An income statement is a measure of all the money you earned in a certain amount of time subtracted by all the money you spent over that same time period.

Prepared and reviewing an income statement has two primary effects:

  • Makes you aware of all the places you are earning money as well as spending money.

Being aware of where you are spending money can quickly alert you to spending that is not in alignment with your values.  Being aware can also help you identify opportunities for improvement.

  • Tells you if you are making a profit or going further into debt.

Earning more than you are spending means you are making a profit. Spending more than you are earning means you are digging yourself a hole. I will let you figure out which one is better.

  1. The second tool is called a balance sheet.

A balance sheet is a measure of how much you are worth at a certain point in time. It is calculated by adding up the value of everything you own, these are called your assets, and then subtracting the amount of money you owe, these are called your liabilities. The difference between these two numbers is how much you are worth, called your net worth. In accounting terms, it is also called owner’s equity.

The income statement and balance sheet are two financial documents that help us measure the current state of our finances (money) as well as help measure any future improvement. I have been creating a personal monthly income statement and balance sheet for almost a decade now.  I find them extremely helpful with understanding where my money is and where it is going.

Do you have questions about how to get started with using or creating these tools? Do you use them in your personal or business life? Let me know in the comments and if you haven’t already subscribed please do so over on the right.

Measure Measure Measure

If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Peter Drucker

This is a famous quote in the six sigma and quality circles that I hang out with. I get invited to some pretty awesome parties.

When I first started working as a process engineer I got to witness an interesting phenomena.

A new boss high up in the process department had been hired, and he was very interested in knowing and improving our daily throughput. Every time he was around he would ask us how the throughput was going. He requested new reports that prominently displayed our daily throughput. When we had a good day on throughput he would congratulate us on our hard work.

However, the truth was before the new boss started we were already doing everything we could to get more throughput.  Since he had started we actually hadn’t changed anything.

As time wore on I expected no improvement in throughput, but I was wrong. The new boss kept asking everyone about throughput and slowly we started to get more throughput. Nothing drastic, but sure enough I could pull up the data and there it was. We were doing 3 or 4 percent better than a several months before. I couldn’t figure out how we had pulled off a little better performance until one day I was out talking to an operator and he told me about how he had switched out one piece of equipment for another one to try to increase throughput. The new equipment gave us a little better throughput in one area, but it ended up causing a bunch of other maintenance issues.

A few months down the road we got a new boss who didn’t care much about throughput. Instead he wanted to know all about availability and maintenance issues. Once again not much change initially but over time as the new boss let everyone know how important availability and maintenance issues were. Slowly everyone made all the small adjustments to improve the availability and maintenance issues and the data showed we were doing a little bit better in availability and maintenance. The funny thing is that the throughput also slowly slipped back to where it used to be.

My story illustrates two important points about measurement.

  1. Measurement makes you aware of where you used to be and where you are now.
  2. You need to measure the correct things. (HINT: throughput and availability were both poor choices in isolation)

Have you ever started measuring or tracking something and quickly found ways to improve? Leave a comment and let me know.

Jeff N. was the winner of last week’s drawing for “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement”. Thank you to everyone who registered.