A woman sits down at her desk with a cup of coffee and types on her laptop

Productivity Software: How It Works

Looking for a way to improve your own productivity or that of your employees'? Why not try productivity software?

What is Productivity Software?

Technically, productivity software is any program that allows you to produce information and create or edit files. A well-known example would be Microsoft’s Office Suite, which includes popular programs like Word and Excel. These and similar programs are commonly used in professional settings and becoming more and more of a necessary tool for businesses and individuals alike.

However, a new wave of productivity tracking software in recent years has all but changed this definition. Now, software exists to measure such productivity (or its absence), and it’s this software that comes to mind when one hears the phrase “productivity software.”

Such productivity tracking software or applications run in the background and allow individuals or businesses to perform their work normally. Though it doesn’t interfere with the work being done in any way (which wouldn’t be very productive), this technology will log the programs, sites, and time used to accomplish that work. After a given period of time, you can view detailed reports of the time spent working – or not working – on a particular project.


One company that provides consumers with this capability is RescueTime, an organization that aims to help users find their “ideal work-life balance.” The organization recognizes that doing work on the computer comes with the potential for serious distraction: Social media sites, emails, and countless entertainment outlets are just a few clicks away when we work on our computers.

It’s easy to land on these sites when taking breaks, but since the sites are designed to keep you there, we can end up spending more time there than anticipated. Productivity software allows you to measure the time that, more often than not, far exceeds our predictions. By helping you understand where your time is being wasted, this software will help you avoid or cut back the time spent on those sites.

After seeing a report, you can work with many of these programs to set and monitor goals. For example, if you’d like to spend one hour less on emails each day, productivity software can help keep you up-to-date on your progress and some programs will even notify you once your habits have improved or reached the specified level.

Keep in mind, these programs aren’t just limited to desktop use. There are several mobile productivity apps that also aim to increase users’ productivity. If you’re interested in becoming more productive, looking into such apps could be a huge help.

Last Updated: April 15, 2015