Building a Better Knowledge Worker, While Improving Your Team’s Productivity

Hi my name is Jason Grimes and I’m the VP of Product Marketing and Sales here at RescueTime. Not long ago, I hosted a webinar about how we can Build Better Knowledge Workers, While Improving Your Team’s Productivity. Quite a few RescueTimers, reporters and thought leaders attended. In this post I’ll cover some of the basics of the talk and for those that prefer the full length video it is included at the bottom of this post –

What Is a Knowledge Worker?

Dilbert Comic

Hopefully, when you think of knowledge worker, Dilbert is not the first thing that comes to your mind. For those of you unfamiliar with the Dilbert computer cartoons he is a character who experiences extreme productivity challenges in trying to achieve his every day work. Instead, what I’m picturing for a knowledge worker is someone who spends several hours in front of a computer performing their daily activities both online and off. Could be anyone from a Internet marketer, Software Engineer, Graphic Designer or Salesperson.

And as managers and business owners you already know that their time, is your money – SO

Imagine, Instead of having a team with 1 or 2 star performers you could encourage the use of a toolset that will enable your entire workforce to improve their efficiency, job satisfaction and help them gain an understanding of how they spend their time.

Let’s take a look at this further and see if RescueTime can help you.

What Is RescueTime?

RescueTime is a service that helps people understand how they spend their time on the computer and make changes based on that information.

What is RescueTime?

Why Is Understanding Your Time So Important?

It’s really important, because it gives people the proper information to make good choices and helps them ask a really critical question “Am I really spending my days the way I’d like to?” Once people start asking that question, a lot of fantastic things can fall out of it. People become better at self-managing. They get better at spotting inefficiencies in their day. Ultimately, they learn how to make measurable changes to impact their time in a positive way.

How to Build Better Knowledge Workers

So, knowing what a knowledge worker is and RescueTime’s purpose – How do you build better knowledge workers?

In any scientific experiment where you want to measure change you need to have or create a baseline. If you sign up for RescueTime and use it for approximately 2 weeks you should have an accurate baseline of how your teams are performing.

But graphs and baselines are not enough – you need to provide a digital toolkit with features like Productivity Dashboard, FocusTime.

By providing continuous feedback through the use of weekly emails, goals and alerts. We can provide these feedback loops that help knowledge workers improve their time management.

Now let’s examine each of these points.

Your Productivity Dashboard

Each of your team’s knowledge workers is presented with a customized Productivity Dashboard where it specifically looks at the following information:

RescueTime Dashboard

Starting from across the top:

  • Total Time – per time period (in this case a week)
  • Average / day in hours and minutes
  • Your employees productivity
  • Their most productive day.

With any of our RescueTime products you get this dashboard that will allow you to zero in on the information you want to see and you can print it, or export it to a CSV for further analysis.

Where Is Your Team’s Time spent?

This is often the most asked question from RescueTime users and managers – how is all of my time spent and in what categories?

Where is my team's time spent?

If I zero in on one of the important reports in the Productivity Dashboard, the All Categories report and It’s hard to see the graph at scale, but it shows approximately 10 hours of time spent on email and scheduling that have been recorded for the week posted. That’s valuable data – it shows where the bulk of my time is being spent and can provide business owners and managers with a high level of detail on how their employees are spending their time.

When Is Your Team in the Zone?

Note this is my data taken from our RescueTime team account, with myself selected as the employee.

Efficiency Summary

You may think you know everyone’s schedules and have a guess at their productivity – now you don’t have to guess. By looking at the schedules below you can quickly see when each employee is the most efficient – morning, afternoon, during the week or over the weekend – and you can have all of this measured against the Team’s average.

Taking a closer look at my schedule – I am most efficient in the morning. Why is that? My son is a rooster and I get up around 5:30am each day and start working not long after that. So mornings are my most productive times.

The take away from this slide is: Block your team’s most productive time out during the day and reserve it for their most important tasks.


This is one of the simplest things you can do to improve your employees productivity.


Start timeboxing your activities using RescueTime’s FocusTime feature. Free yourself from distractions and have laser like focus for periods of time. Most of our customers utilize this tool when they are under a deadline for a manager or studying a particular topic – and they use the heck out of it.

Weekly Email Summary

Our Weekly email summary is one of our most popular features

Weekly Email Summary

This email provides your team’s knowledge workers with the following level of details: (Looking from top down)

1.Total Time spent during the week
2.Versus the avg RescueTime user
3.Discusses your top categories and activities
4.And my favorite, seeing how you did against last weeks goals
Goals and Alerts within RescueTime
Goals and alerts are a valuable part of the feedback loops we try to provide our users and managers to make their teams more efficient while still accomplishing their daily work.


Let’s take a look at setting up some common goals and alerts within RescueTime.

5 Hours of Productivity – This is a goal we practice internally at RescueTime and it encourages us to work at least 5 hours of Productive time per day. We all know that we will all be at a desk 8-10 hours a day, but 5 of those hours should be downright productive!

Another alert is trying to keep time spent on email to less than 1.0 hour per day and social networking below 30 minutes. This keeps teams focused on their daily tasks and reminds them to stay on target.

Comparisons (Average)

Another great RescueTime feature is our Comparisons tool. It takes 30 days of data before it can show the calculations.

Primarily a tool used by your Team Members. This is a peek at one of my colleagues account data for the past 60 days using our Comparisons tool. Let’s take a look at the data that is presented.

Comparisons Average

At a glance you can easily see:

How our lead developer was performing on an Average Day, What were the top categories and activities.

It also allows you to see the same data when you can flip between An Average Day, Your Most Productive Days and Your Least Productive ways.

This provides team members with incredibly powerful data about their work patterns.

Here is a report showing data for our lead developer’s Most Productive Day.

Most Productive

Here is a report showing data for our lead developer’s Least Productive Day.

Least Productive

What Do Employees Get Out of Using RescueTime?

So you’ve seen highlights of some of our most popular features in RescueTime, but you still may have some questions for example – What do employees get out of it?

  • Be able to make positive changes
  • Greater sense of self-awareness and control
  • Know that they are spending time on the right things
  • Compare themselves to others
What Do You as an Owner or Manager Get Out of Using RescueTime?
Now as a business owner or manager here’s what you can expect from using RescueTime as part of your daily routine.
  • Know that you are getting the most out of your team
  • Ensure your team isn’t getting bogged down in communications or meetings
  • Understanding the overall flow of your team
  • And potentially increase billable hours

Building a Better Knowledge Worker is Possible!

So more than anything I want you to know that YES, it is possible to build a better knowledge worker!

  • Protect your most precious asset – TIME
  • Create a basic understanding of how your team operates (baselines)
  • Use RescueTime and all of its features to make better choices of how to use your time
  • Continuous improvement through feedback loops (dashboard, emails, goals, alerts)
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Featured RescueTimer – Will Lam

We wanted to take this opportunity to start mentioning some of our more outspoken and exciting users and Will and RescueTime have been a match for years now. We sat down and asked him some questions about who he is and see if he can unlock any secrets to productivity and time saving for the rest of our community of users. So follow along for our Questions & Answers.

Featured RescueTimer

Q: Who are you?
A: I’m a coffee snob, personal data nerd, connector, Crossfit nut, and curator of the Toronto Startup Digest.

Q: What do you do?
A: I’m an Inbound Marketing Specialist at Powered by Search and just recently started blogging about one of my passions that ties data, personal analytics to personal development. 🙂

Q: How many hours of RescueTime do you have logged?
A: 5229 at the time of this email

Q: Which version of RescueTime are you using?
A: Latest versions on my Macbook Pro, Windows 7 (at work) and Android app.

Q: Why do you use RescueTime?
A: To find out how I’m spending my time.  I want to ensure how I’m spending my time is used wisely.  I pay you guys (Rescuetime) to make that happen.

Q: Everyone remembers their first computer – what was yours?
A: Ahh.. the memories.. Pentium 133 MHz, with a 2.1 GB Maxtor HDD, 16 MB of RAM, 16 x CD-ROM, 32-bit Soundblaster audiocard and a ATI 3D Xpression 2MB video card. It was the s*** back in the day 🙂 (1996)

Q: Where did you go to College or High School? (if any)
A: Ryerson University, University of Toronto, Jarvis Collegiate Institute in Toronto, Canada

Q: What do you listen to while working?
A: Mostly stuff through Doubletwist on my Nexus S.  Other than that, I occasionally use  Most played artists are Justice, Daft Punk, Kavinsky, Zero 7 and The xx

Q: Best advice to Get Shit Done
A: Timebox and attach a deadline to EVERYTHING.  I follow Parkinson’s Law and the 80/20 Principle religiously.  I’m really digging the Pomodoro technique nowadays.  I input all of my todo’s into GTD setup that consists of Due Today and  I also mix it with good old pen and paper where I write it down my Most Important Tasks (usually 3 and no more than that) on a Post-It Note.  Oh. And keep on hitting the Focus button via RescueTime 🙂

Q: What other services or applications are you using that you cannot live without?
A: Dropbox,, ReadItLater,, Mindmeister,, DueToday/Toodledo, Fitocracy and even though it’s not a service or application – my Moleskine journal

Q: Is there anything else rad we should we should know about you.
A: In a previous lifetime, I was heavy into improvisational theatre but now I just appreciate the art form 🙂

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Data Driven New Year’s Resolutions

Gearing up for a Productive New Year – What are your New Year’s Resolutions?

It’s that time of the year when many fellow RescueTimers and other professed Lifehackers begin to look back at their work and accomplishments to measure what was completed in 2011 and what is on deck for 2012. Since joining RescueTime as the VP of Product Marketing earlier this year in May 2011 I’ve logged 1120 hours in RescueTime in total. Now that I know what I’m doing with my time and my personal patterns of productivity, I want to set out what I’m going to accomplish in 2012. Before answering this question let’s take a look back at 2011.

According to RescueTime in 2011 I spent the majority of my time:

  1. Buried in email – 200+ hours.
  2. 50+ hours doing RescueTime Support (answering emails, feature requests, bugs and voicemails).
  3. 100+ hours of food (includes lunch, coffee and sometimes dinner).
  4. 50+ hours chatting with my co-workers and colleagues.
  5. 50+ hours of meetings.
  6. 30+ hours of using my Social Media toolset,

All Activities 2011

What else does this data suggest? …I need to log more hours.

1100 hours is impressive, but when you realize that I had the potential to log close to 1600 hours I would have had a much clearer picture of my time. I plan to spend the next year logging more of my time – even the mundane stuff. For example when I’m not working productively I need to mark the time as Family or another similar category that demonstrates I have spent time away from work and everything needs to be tracked.  Additionally, I plan to set some goals for hitting specific task related objectives, like 1 hour in business intelligence. Let’s look at a graph for some more ideas.

Taking a deeper look at the long tail of my activities with lower usage statistics
Chart - showing low activities
This is one of my most actionable charts. From looking up at the following graph you can see how it compares against the graph above. These are the areas where I need to spend more time or turn ideas into action. Specifically, I need to spend more time doing the following:
  1. I’m not spending enough time on our company blog – My goal is to create 2 blog articles a month this next year and institute a RescueTimer of the Month program, posting of FAQ and sample real world examples of how RescueTime could benefit other knowledge workers.
  2. I’m a rabid fan of OSX’s sticky notes and I spent approximately 12 hours in it this year, but I need to move more of the ideas noted there to action, so I need to dig through them to review and prioritize.
  3. Phone calls – I’m an iPhone user and right now we do not have a client that supports call logging like our Android counterpart. In the meantime, I can log offline time as Phone Call – I just need to get in the habit of better documenting it.
  4. Hosted Google Docs – not entirely sure what to make of this statistic. At RescueTime we all share Google Apps accounts with access to a central Hosted Google Docs for knowledge share such as best practices, design docs, customer testimonials, but over the last 4 years many of these docs have grown outdated and we’ve relied on tribal knowledge. There needs to be a consistent effort to document what’s important and reusable. And whatever is usable and would benefit customers needs to be posted on our online support site at or our company blog.
Examining my Social Networking time

Let’s take a closer look at my time spent on social sites and social networking. At first glance there is an obvious hole – As a marketing professional, I need to spend more time using Google+ and I need to be using it daily. I also don’t spend enough time relative to other networks on professional networking sites like LinkedIn. I’ve recently upgraded to their Premium service in the hopes of connecting with more potential partners and users via their InMail and statistics package.
Social Net Time

What are my New Year’s Resolutions given the data above?

Knowing that my job is very communication intensive what are the things I can do to improve my productivity for the upcoming 2012 year?

  1. Utilize Inbox Zero and Get Things Done to respond to the most important emails first – reduce inbox time sink.
  2. Develop a social media strategy that leverages the fewest amount of tools and time to accomplish the required tasks.
  3. Keep working with RescueTime development team to put the data closer to our users! Not just PC, Mac and Android, but iPhone, iPad and Linux clients as well. Once we have a complete offering almost all of my time will  be completely tracked.
  4. Help close more sales of RescueTime Team Edition accounts utilizing Skype to have the necessary global reach. Currently Skype only consumes 5 hours of my time for the year – I expect this number to grow next year and potentially utilize Google’s new Hangout features.
  5. Create a smooth onboarding process for Team Accounts. We need videos, tutorials, customer reviews. Many of these docs will be hosted in our Google Docs for RescueTime.
  6. Analyze moving our support system to Assistly from Tender. Right now, we require a login to get support which prevents those with login problems from working to resolve their issues. Assistly could give us new functionality that will allow us to more easily connect with our customers.
Without RescueTime it would be difficult to track exactly how you spent the year of your life – sure you spent time on Facebook, but just how much time and what did you accomplish? What are you going to do next year and how are you going to track your progress? We’d love to hear from you. Email us, or post here.  We’d love to feature a few users on our blog rotating monthly.
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RescueTime featured on today – Purchase a Solo Pro subscription for $21/yr (3 days only)

Hello RescueTimers!

For a limited time, we’re squashing the deal for a 1-year subscription to RescueTime Pro (normally $72/year) for ONLY $21! ($1.75/month!)

With RescueTime Pro you can…
  • Understand how much time you spend on the computer each day
  • Rank your productivity with specific sites and applications
  • Use the Android App to visualize your time spent on the phone with people
  • There’s a “Get Focused” feature to block distracting websites for a specified period of time so you can get work done (::cough Facebook cough::)
  • And see more detailed data about which documents and web pages you are spending the most time on
-> Purchase Today Promotion for

-> Purchase Today


* Existing users wishing to add to their subscription will likely have to provide a coupon code to our Support Team to have this package added to your existing accounts once you’ve purchased through the AppSumo link.

** Free Trial users wishing to try the offer should cancel their trial and resign up through the AppSumo link.

A Quick Look at Seattle’s Self Quantified Meetup

A couple weeks ago Robby and I attended this meeting of self trackers known simply as Seattle Quantified Self. With over 30 people attending the third meetup, there were plenty of show + tell sessions covering weight, happiness, transportation and productivity. Each of these talks were very informative and described how people committed to documenting their every day lives while making small changes for the future. My favorite was Amelia’s Hacker’s Diet implementation of weighing herself everyday.

Amelia Greenhall: Weigh Everyday = Understanding

Amelia Greenhall (Seattle): Weigh Everyday = Understanding from David Reeves on Vimeo.

Buster Benson: How I use RescueTime

Buster Benson: How I use RescueTime from David Reeves on Vimeo.

Adam Loving: FeatBeat

Adam Loving (Seattle): Featbeat from David Reeves on Vimeo.

Robby McDonell: Transportation Logging

Robby MacDonell: One Month of Transportation Logging from David Reeves on Vimeo.

Erik Kennedy: Tracking Happiness

Erik Kennedy: Quantifying Happiness from David Reeves on Vimeo.
We are excited and looking forward to the next meeting so stay tuned.

7 Steps to Boost Your Team’s Productivity – Using RescueTime Team Edition

It’s becoming increasingly common and even necessary to measure the productivity of your knowledge workers, either locally staffed or remote. You can ask your employees to complete timesheets and lengthy status emails, but do you really know how your company’s human asset is being spent? You want to optimize your team’s time for their sake and yours– but when people try to enter their own time, they are at best mostly inaccurate, even with good intentions. RescueTime Team Edition gives you and your employees a very high level of detailed information with minimal or no data entry.

1. Sign up for RescueTime Team Edition. 14 day Free Trial with no setup fees. This will get you started quickly.

2. Add Some Users From Your Team. If you didn’t during the setup process, add users to your account through Settings -> Add Users. It sends them an email to walk them through their personalized setup. As your users get setup, you can continue fine tuning the administrative settings such as custom categories, adjustments to what gets monitored, monitoring schedules and group management. I recommend that new organizations try to have their users in Open Mode with a 24×7 Monitoring Schedule. Remember, categorizations and re-scoring applies to each group separately– so your Sales team doesn’t have the same settings as your Development group. Open mode gives the users in your organization the ability to turn on, off and pause the RescueTime data collector. When a user is done working simply choose “Pause until tomorrow”, and we ignore activities until his/her next day of work. Giving users control over their RescueTime experience as part of the information sharing experience.

Manage Users in RescueTime

3. Set goals and workplace policy about leisure surfing and other activities. Goals are on the right hand menu under Settings -> Goals. Positive goals are great– You can acknowledge those who reach impressive results like 4 or more hours of solid productive work in a day. Give your team some guidelines on what activities are Productive and some common sense about leisure surfing while at work. At RescueTime HQs we have goals set at 5 hours of Productivity each day and we encourage light leisure surfing to less than an 1 hour a day.

RescueTime Goals

4. Spend time categorizing which sites are Productive versus those that are Unproductive; Go to Time Reports -> Activities. is the obvious example that gets a default of “Very unproductive”. Maybe you are social marketing firm who runs on Facebook, you can re-score it to be Productive. Your choice here is an “it’s like this most of the time” consideration. You should also decide whether Email is Productive or Neutral for your organization. For example, Developers often find Email neutral and time spent coding is productive.

Managing Scores in RescueTime

5. Set up your Offline Time options. Go to Settings -> Monitoring. This will allow your team to classify work after they have stepped away. You get 6 options. Some suggestions would include: Meeting, Phone Call, Food, Personal, Other Work. Android smartphone or tablet users can run the mobile app, and have unlimited custom offline time input, including an easy “stopwatch” interface.

Offline Time

6. Quickly scan to see who’s active in a group and who might be stuck. Use the Attendance Time Report seen below.

Attendance Report

7. Know what your Team is doing at all times. Review the All Activities graph for all team members. You can sort by employee and duration: day, week or year.

All Activities

Now that you have everything setup and running for your team I would recommend that you collect at least 2 weeks of data before making any changes based on what RescueTime is reporting. We strongly believe in our users that if you give them the data to help make them more productive they will take those actions and change – we can guarantee your team will boost their productivity . Get started today –

Another Mention – The Best Time Tracker App for Windows

From the Whitson Gordon author:

If you prefer something that tracks what you’re doing at all times, I can’t recommend RescueTime enough. It’s how I started reclaiming my time in only seven days, and it’s a great way to see where your workday’s falling apart. Just sign up, download the app, and let it run. After a few days, you can see how much time you’ve spent in certain apps and on certain web sites, and categorize them into “productive” and “unproductive” activities.

We couldn’t be more pleased! Thanks LifeHacker and Whitson!

Facebook Dominates, the Emergence of reddit and Hulu: Taking a Look at 4 Years of Distracting Websites at RescueTime

We’re often surprised by how little work we get done during the day even after we’ve spent several hours in front of a computer screen. In 2007, did a survey that found Americans waste 20% of their time at work, and 34.7% of all respondents said that surfing the Internet was the biggest distraction. Over the past four years, RescueTime has been collecting anonymous data from users who have opted to share that information with us. Using that data, we’ve compiled a list of the most distracting websites from 2008 and 2011.

Top Distracting Sites 2008

The first things we noticed were Facebook’s and YouTube’s engagement numbers. In 2008, those two sites garnered respectively 14.8 and 11.3 minutes per user every day. Facebook especially has surged since then. By 2009, the average user spent 18.9 minutes per day on Facebook. By 2011, they were spending 23 minutes per day on the popular social network. That means the average person spent 58% more time on Facebook in 2011 than in 2008. By contrast, YouTube has remained relatively stable with the average time spent increasing from 11.3 minutes per day in 2008 to 11.4 minutes in 2011. However, RescueTime users have collectively spent 139,035,465 seconds on YouTube so far in 2011, placing it third only to Google Reader and Facebook. That amounts to 9,343 minutes per day watching web clips. On the other hand, RescueTime users spent 469,150,954 seconds or 781,9182 minutes per day on Facebook in 2011! This goes to show the powerful, worldwide dominance that Facebook and YouTube exert.

Top Distracting Sites 2011

Also interesting to note is the race between Digg and reddit. In 2008, Digg was the clear winner between these two news-sharing services as our users collectively spent 338 minutes per day on Digg versus 186 minutes per day at reddit. However, the average time spent per user on each site was perhaps a sign of things to come as the average reddit user spent 9.9 minutes on the site in 2008. On Digg, the average user only spent 6.1 minutes browsing the site each day. Today, Digg no longer even ranks in the top 12 most distracting sites. Reddit, though, now comes in at number 5. Even more incredible is that the average reddit user now spends 25.3 minutes there every day.

Hulu is another site that has seen a wild ride over the years. Although the site debuted in 2007, it didn’t show up in our rankings until 2009 when it shot up to be the sixth most distracting site with 15,966,181 seconds spent there by our users or 729 minutes per day. That means that on average, Hulu was distracting each user to the tune of 21 minutes every day. Yet that slipped to just 11.6 minutes on average by 2010. So far in 2011, Hulu has slipped slightly further to 11.2 minutes, but it’s still the ninth most distracting site overall.

In contrast to Hulu’s wild ride, has held steady. In 2009, Rescue Time users spent an average of 4.9 minutes every day either shopping or just browsing the merchandise. So far in 2011, that number has dropped just slightly to 4.4 minutes per day. What’s also interesting about this is that ranks at the bottom of our most distracting websites in terms of how much time we spend there per day. Social networking, news and opinion, and entertainment sites are all much more popular.

Of those three categories, social networking is the clear winner. In addition to Facebook, users spent 6.7 minutes per day at Twitter so far in 2011 for a grand total of 2742 minutes each day amongst all users. is another popular social network destination with 27.3 minutes spent there per day by the average user for a grand total of 996 minutes each day. Factor in Facebook’s Apps community, and users spent a grand total of 31,892 minutes every day on social networks in 2011. That’s 131,820 hours or 5,492 days spent on social networks.

Taken together, these trends go to show how our interests have shifted over the years. Facebook was the most distracting site in 2008 and remains so today, but the average RescueTime user now spends 58% more time there. Digg, once popular, is now a has-been while reddit continues to garner more and more of our attention. Sites like remain steady while Hulu surged to popularity but now slowly fades. It’ll be interesting to see how these trends play out over the next few years.

Responding to a Love Letter from Simplifilm

We received the nicest love letter from Simplifilm – those guys are the best!

We love the fact that you don’t just exist to make a buck (though we surely hope that that is happening). You measure things and help people improve. That is noble. You share an intimate, sacred trust with some of the best coders, writers, thinkers and doers. We want to get more people to meet you.It’s selfish, but we believe that you could improve the whole country. New government programs–or tax cuts–won’t fix our mess. Productivity will. You make people more productive. We believe that if more people used RescueTime, everything – everywhere – would get better You are so terribly vital to the world that it would be horrible to not see you grow.

It’s been a long time since someone has really impressed me in terms of winning RescueTime’s business. Chris and Jason the founders of Simplifilm took the time to understand our products and how best to evangelize what we do. We look forward to this project and our future partnership! If you’d like to see the whole blog article then go to:

Love Letter from Simplifilm

LifeHacker Newbies – A Big Welcome to our New RescueTimers!

Earlier this week we had a story break on titled “How to Reclaim Your Time in Seven Days for a More Productive and Stress-Free Workday” and we have been growing users by the thousands! We wanted to extend a warm welcome to you folks and should you need any assistance please open up a support ticket at and we’ll take care of you ASAP.

Lifehacker Article