Time Management For Mac OS: reviewing Slife

I’ve been a GTDer for more than 2 years but I have never ceased to look for new and better ways to improve my working process. The other day I received a comment from one of my readers on the post Manage Your Time As You Manage Your Money. It was something about a new time management application for Mac (and Windows, meanwhile) for time management, called Slife. It was a free download and I gave it a try.

The application is somewhere in the same league as time tracking services like Wakoopa, but there are some subtle differences that make Slife a very interesting baby. So, what is this Slife doing anyway?

Well, it basically tracks your time spent on your computer, with a higher granularity than other applications, letting you know not only with which applications you are spending the most of your time, but also which documents or web pages your are visiting most often (attention, twitter users 😉 ). So you will end up with some sort of report of the most used applications during your working sessions. The reporting is done in real time, with a clear, iCal-like interface (click for larger picture).

Time Management With Slife

Did you see those little points and dashes? That’s where the granularity I spoke above takes place, if you click on one of those spots you will see the exact document on which you spent time, in my case, of course, twitter :-).

Slife Interface

But we’ve only scratched the surface of what you can do with Slife. Seeing what you use on your computer is one thing, but crossing this with some sort of actions and goals will give you a new level of understanding.

Actions and goals

Suppose you do some blogging on your computer, check email, journal a little and write a book. Oh, and if you’re a geek, you do code from time to time on your next best selling iPhone application. All these activities are easily grouped in actions using Slife. An activity is made of a list of applications, a list of documents and a goal attached.

Slife Activity Editor

So, for an application called Email management you’ll use the Maill.app application and you’ll set up a goal of not using this more than 30 minutes per day. After you set up applications Slife automatically starts to monitor your time and automatically computes the crossing between applications, documents and calculates the goals. Here’s the list of activities that I set up so far.

Slife Activity Log

Now the goal setting part was a little bit strange for me in the beginning but after several days it started to lighten up. You can spend less than or more than a certain amount of time on one activity. If you chose to spend less than 30 minutes on your email management activity, Slife will warn you when you go over this limit. If you chose to spend more than 2 hours blogging, Slife will keep the goal icon red until you go over 2 hours of work. Here’s how the goal screenshot is looking.

Slife Goal Log

As you can see, from a one month period you can see at a glance how many of your goals you fulfilled and where you still have to work.

Now, what about the fact that Slife, such an useful application, is free? As in free beer, I mean. The answer is in Slifeteams, which is the money maker product. In Slifeteams you can track time of your managed teams, by creating an account for each member of your team on the slifeteams website. As of today, the cost for one account is 10 USD  / month and you have a free trial period of 30 days. I can do nothing but agree to the business model which starts by giving something for free, creates the habit, and then attempts to make money only where they see a real money making improvement by using they app and that would be in business groups.

All in all, I think Slife is very useful. I can think of many improvements right now, like some GTD flavor on the Actions and Goals section, but I have to admit that even in this simple form Slife has been extremely helpful to me. I can see now that I have mentally established some goals, but I do nothing to make them happening. Even if you have only this type of answer from Slife and it will still be a significant gain.

8 thoughts on “Time Management For Mac OS: reviewing Slife”

  1. RescueTime is actually tracking all apps running on your machine. The only major difference is the fact that all reporting happens on their site, you are only having a simple agent running on your machine. And after 1 day of using Slife, I’d say RescueTime is a bit more feature rich, allowing me to use different tags for the apps (you can probably achieve the same in Slife by defining multiple ‘Activities’). Anyways, there is one feature that I’d like to see that is missing from both apps: the possibility to mark the time spent inside an app differently (f.e. while using the browser, I wish I could mark: 1hour online research, .25hour social networking)

    Both are interesting apps and you can learn quite a bit about your habits just but leaving them running in background and checking from time to time the reports.

  2. As far as I know, RescueTime is only tracking your web activities, meaning the browser. Slife is keeping tack of all your computer activities and is pretty simple.

    There is no relation between the age of RescueTime and the reasons I dropped it though :-)) Just letting you know that RescueTime is a little older than Slife, nothing more 🙂

  3. I didn’t know Slife is free, so thanks for the tip! Meanwhile, I’ve been using ActiveTimer which wasn’t great and afterwards RescueTime which looks like Slife but all the reporting part is online.


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