I'm trying several things this year to improve productivity. One thing that's both helpful and kind of fun, is that I've started screencasting my workday to a file. I was inspired both by employee-monitoring* screen capture software and by "speed paint" videos on YouTube. But what I found is that Vokoscreen can be set to record screencast video at just 1 frame per second -- this doesn't take up a prohibitive amount of hard drive space, even for a 4-8 hour workday, so the files remain of manageable size.
When I take a break, whether away from the computer or just making personal posts online, I hit "Pause" so it doesn't get counted as work. I can also stop and start a new video recording, which is sometimes useful for keeping parts of the workday separate.
At the end of the day, I load the clips into Kdenlive, apply a 2000% "speed" filter (i.e. 20X speed -- which is the maximum setting on the "speed" effect in Kdenlive), and add some music from my project music library. This is fast enough to make reviewing the video practical, but slow enough for me to follow what's happening.
I review the accelerated video and check (or write) a text log entry for the day to make sure it accurately describes what I did that day, and I paste the entry into a "title clip" in Kdenlive, which I insert into the video.
I also review to check for security issues, such as passwords or private communications. I pixellate those so I can still see what I was doing, but the sensitive text isn't readable from the video (this is just in case I decide to share the videos in the future).
I've been doing this for just over two weeks now, and I like it. It has a number of advantages:
Motivational: It's very satisfying to look at what I accomplished in a given day. It's so easy to forget.
Fun: Watching yourself work at 20X speed is sort of a rush.
Time Keeping: The length of the video tells me how much time I spent on productive work in any given day.
Time Usage Analysis: It's easy to tell how much time different tasks take, even when I would lose track of time while doing them.
Log Keeping: Provides an excellent check on my textual log, improving the accuracy.
Accountability: It's easy to tell from the video if I'm not staying on task, or if I'm working in inefficient ways.
Self-Discipline: Crazy as it sounds, knowing I'm watching myself is also motivation to stay on task when I'm recording.
Music Review: It's not my main goal, but since I add background music from my soundtrack project collection, reviewing the video is also reviewing my music files. Kind of a double-use of the time.
This should allow me to make more realistic estimates of the time it takes me to do any given task, how much time I can expect to work productively in a single day, and so on. All of which makes me better at managing myself, which is not as easy a job as you might think.
Due to the potential security issues and also due to the fact that a lot of this work is just not that exciting to watch, I don't plan to share these on a regular basis. But logs from production work days may be as interesting as speed paint videos, and I might share some excerpts of those later.
*FWIW: I have some ethical and practical objections to close monitoring like this in conventional work environments. It seems kind of oppressive in the work place. But in this case, it's me watching myself, so I'm not concerned about that.