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 - http://youtu.be/kSVIfoT7lZ8

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.

FocusTime

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

FocusTime

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.

Goals

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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4 Comments on “Building a Better Knowledge Worker, While Improving Your Team’s Productivity”

  1. Mel Starrs says:

    How do you track meetings? Is there a default for being away from the computer I can set to meetings if between 9 and 5.30, excluding lunchtime?

    • jasongrimes says:

      Hi Mel,

      Great question. I have a couple of thoughts for meetings. If I want them to count in my RescueTime I let the offline timer come up after 5 minutes of inactivity and then mark my time as Meetings -> Dev Scrum or whatever. Often times though while attending online meetings I’m surfing and then I have to decide was this productive overall or unproductive. You can change your offline time settings in the monitoring section so that you have your categories displayed when looking at reporting your offline time.

      Let me know if you have any other RescueTime questions – I appreciate you checking RescueTime out.

      Sincerely,
      Jason

  2. [...] Grimes, product manager at Rescue Time, shows us how to be more productive by “understanding your time”. It is a overwhelmingly comprehensive post and more or [...]

  3. Talygen says:

    The online time tracking tool provides you all time reports whether work is billable or non billable. It accurately record an employee’s time to reduce human error, as well as, identify and resolve payroll issues early.