Why don't I see 60 minutes in my "by hour" view?

RescueTime is tracking the time you are active on your computer, with activity being defined as keyboard or mouse movement. The trick is, we have to use a heuristics approach to decide when you have become inactive. Heuristics are a set of mathematical rules created by using trial-and-error or the evaluation of feedback.

For example, did you stop working and leave your desk, or did you just pause to think? RescueTime uses a rule to decide—a timer begins when mouse and keyboard action stops. If it starts again within five minutes, the app regards you as still active and just "thinking", but if inactivity exceeds that time, five minutes are subtracted from the activity and the record is complete.

What then happens is, if you were thinking for just a little longer than the "inactive" boundary, and become active again, that span between the completed activity and the new activity is not logged. These gaps mean an hour of "real time" does not always show a whole hour of activity.

Our heuristic approach is based on extensive testing and data sampling to provide the optimal balance between pure accuracy (you were probably active on the computer) and real-world human-computer use patterns.

As a rule, it is rare to log a perfect 60 minute hour because everyone naturally needs to take quick breaks for simple things like reducing eye strain. This is why we believe, instead of changing the software to meet expectations, it's best to let the software be as accurate as possible, and alternatively adjust your expectations of how much active time you should expect to see. We hope our users will rely more on productivity scoring and efficiency ranks than simple minute counting.

In some rare cases—users who need to repeatedly but only briefly, consult printed material—these heuristic errors are on the side of slightly under-tracking actual work. As a result, we have made this internal timer adjustable by RescueTime support staff. If you feel that your reports are being significantly hampered by RescueTime's default setting, please get in touch with us at support@rescuetime.com

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