Idle times

Posted on April 8, 2020

Sticking to a healthy schedule is hard when the difference between “home” and “office” is blurry. Several people I asked admitted to working overtime at the moment. I caught myself working longer hours recently, and am working against it now. There’s enough going on in the world that we don’t need to add overworking ourselves to the list.

If you are not tracking your hours, you might not even know you’re working too much. I start a timer in toggl every morning and keep it running during the day. Having proof of how long I have worked helps me keep track of my hours.

Since toggl operates in the background, it’s easy to forget to actively pause it during lunch. It tries to detect “idle time”, probably through a lack of mouse and keyboard input. When you start using your computer again, it asks if you want to keep or discard the idle time. It sounds helpful, but made me very uncomfortable several times.

Its initial setting of “everything over 5 minutes is idle” was pretty aggressive. That turned most conference calls into idle time. toggl also annoyingly guilt tripped me into not counting short breaks as work time. I felt bad every time I clicked “keep idle time” after stepping away from my desk for a few minutes.

It is still okay to take breaks. Get up from your chair, have a break, get some water, talk to a person. You would do the same in an office. Let’s not pretend we’re not people because we happen to work from home.

Since setting toggl’s idle detection to 10 minutes, it only kicks in when I forget to stop the timer during lunch. I get more value out of it, and feel better about it as well.

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