How to fire your boss

Tweet ItRecently, one woman fired her annoying boss and exposed his computer habits, which included playing FarmVille for 19.7 hours a week.
A lot of people have to put up with a manager who seems to have nothing better to do than irritating all of the people who are actually trying to get work done. When they aren’t annoying employees they surf porn, get drunk or just pass out. These guys need to be fired.

Some managers use corporate spy-ware to nitpick their employees over trivial amounts of break time — time that has actually been proven to improve productivity. Just as bad, others put up draconian firewalls which kill productivity and breed dissatisfaction. Isn’t it time that these managers were held to the same standard of accountability for the ways they spend their time?

One of the biggest problems is that upper management often doesn’t know what is really going on down in the trenches. It’s hard to have any idea if managers are actually doing anything, since often, they don’t directly produce much more than the odd slide show or some random memos. The sleaziest of these leeches take credit for all the success and blame their subordinates for any failures, regardless of the real contributions.

Trust and accountability are two way streets. Employees should be able to use tools like RescueTime to defend skipping out early on Friday, after putting in extra time to meet deadlines during the week. Managers should be able to show their team the sort of work ethic that is expected, not with words, but by their own actions.


Does the World Cup matter?

Tweet ItEvidently there are plenty of hooligans in my neighborhood looking for an excuse to start drinking and yelling at a TV around noon in my favorite pub.  This was a little surprising to me, since I live in a yuppy downtown Seattle neighborhood which is full of software geeks and otherwise respectable people.

Now that it’s all over with, I decided to see if there was a broader trend in RescueTime’s data. Time spent on the computer dropped about 4% and productive time dropped a full 10% here in the US on the day of our first game vs England.  More people than usual checked the news, which managed to grab a 5% bump despite the drop in total time.  Evidently no one was watching the game on their computers, since Entertainment (including sports) stayed flat.

The effect was even more pronounced in the UK.  Productive time dropped 13%, total time dropped 7%, and instead of reading about the upset in the news like their American counter parts, the English were apparently watching it live with an 5% bump in Entertainment.

All that’s interesting, but that game took place on a Saturday, when most people aren’t supposed to be working anyway.  When the US squeaked out a tie during the final minutes of their next match against Slovenia on Friday, our American users spent a little more time than normal on the news, but it wasn’t enough to cause a significant change in productivity.

Here is a graph of all the days of the World Cup, compared to a typical week* to help see if there was real trend here.

It’s obvious that productive time was consistently down during the entire World Cup.  The US’s game dates are circled in red.  It’s interesting that you can see after we were eliminated by Ghana, things picked up a bit, but still didn’t quite make it back to normal.  This might be because we have more international users than members in the US.  Total time spent on computers was down 4% and productive time was down 3% over all the working days in the tournament.

There are a couple other interesting points in that graph, particularly the 18% drops in productivity over Fathers Day and Fourth of July weekend.  People seemed to come back pretty slowly after the 4th, and didn’t manage to get back into full swing until the end of the week.

When you look at it from RescueTime’s perspective, it’s pretty clear that the world cup does matter.

*A typical week is the average from the 28 days before the World Cup began (Memorial Day was tossed out).

RescueTime provides a time management tool to allow individuals and businesses to track their time and attention to see where their days go (and to help them get more productive!). We have hundreds of millions of man hours of second-by-second attention data from hundreds of thousands of users around the world, tracking in real time both inside and outside the browser.


Google is eating Microsoft’s lunch, one tasty bite at a time.

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Microsoft just launched Office 2010 to great fanfare, and quietly slipped in a new free online version.  It looks like they may have finally realized that if they don’t cannibalize their core business with a web based offering, Google will.  Has the sleeping giant over in Redmond finally awoken, and can they defend their biggest cash cow from the future?

Some analysts say Google’s online offering can’t compete with Microsoft’s.  They have no idea.

Google Apps vs Micrsoft Office Daily Reach

We’ve been tracking the usage habits of hundreds of thousands of our users over the last two years, and you can clearly see that Google has managed to increase their daily reach from around 59% to 79%.  On the other hand, Microsoft Office has been steadily shedding users, losing about 9% of our population.

To get an idea of how relatively important each application in these suites are, here is a graph showing the full gamut.

Communication makes up about 18% of all computer usage.  Google proved you could do email in the cloud not only competitively, but for free.  Outlook and Gmail dominate these two companies’ suites in terms of unique daily users.  Gmail managed to increase their slice of the pie about 3%, while Outlook lost about 6% of the total.  That’s a 21% relative decline for Microsoft vs 7% relative growth for Google in arguably the single most important software sector.  Microsoft loses its integration advantage when people stop using big pieces of the suite, which may help explain the synergistic decline of Outlook and Excel.  It’s also interesting to note that Word and PowerPoint have been relegated to a tiny fraction of our users who seem to greatly prefer Google Docs.

If that was the whole story, things might look pretty grim for Redmond, and it’s no wonder they’re being forced to respond to web based offerings.  However, there is at least one more way to consider the data, and that’s in terms of the amount of time spent in particular applications, not just the number of people using them.

It’s clear again that email is the most important component in both companies portfolios, but even though Gmail has about double the users, the smaller population of Outlook users spend more time emailing than all the Gmail users put together.  Today, Outlook is the preferred weapon of choice for heavy users, but if I were an exec at Microsoft, I’d be paying very close attention to the direction those blue and red lines move from here on out.  You might also notice that in terms of spreadsheet usage, there is really only 1 option.

About the data:
RescueTime provides a time management tool to allow individuals and businesses to track their time and attention to see where their days go (and to help them get more productive!). We have hundreds of millions of man hours of second-by-second attention data from hundreds of thousands of users around the world, tracking in real time both inside and outside the browser.  We selected annual date boundaries for this set, to help reveal seasonal variations in usage, like the holiday dip in productivity.

About our software:
If you want to see how productive you are vs the rest of our users, you should check out our product tour. We offer both individual and group plans (pricing starts at FREE).