Best of 2018: Our biggest data stories, insightful interviews, and most-read advice

At RescueTime, we’re on a mission to help you do more meaningful work. And this year, the RescueTime blog doubled down on that promise.

In over 100 posts read by half a million readers, we dove deep into our data to find trends in workplace multitasking, communication overload, and productivity.

We tackled some of the hardest questions around why we procrastinate, how to protect ourselves from overwork, and why we always think we have more time each day than we actually do.

And, because we know there are people who are infinitely smarter than us about all these topics, we spoke with many of them too!

Our research and ideas made their way into publications like Fast Company, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and The Boston Globe. (A New York Times editor even said he was “obsessed” with one of our articles.)

To cap off a fantastic year, we combed through our 2018 archives to highlight the most-read and shared articles of the year.

Enjoy!

Make 2019 the year you master time management and take your productivity to the next level. Find out how RescueTime can help and sign up for free here

The Data: Trends and insights on how you actually spend your time

Rescuetime blog data

Understanding how people like us act is a powerful tool in changing our own behaviors. And this year we looked into our own data, aggregated and averaged from hundreds of thousands of users, to identify trends and insights into the way we work.

What we learned looking at 225 million hours of productivity

At the end of 2017 (wow, that feels like a long time ago now) we took a long look at data from our users to find out how they worked and what got in the way. The results were pretty amazing. Read on to find out what time of day you’re most productive, how many apps and websites you use a day, and how much productive time you actually have on your digital devices during the week.

Most people only get 1 hour and 12 minutes of uninterrupted productive time a day

You probably know your attention is split between tasks most of the day. You also probably know by now that multitasking really isn’t very good for you. Or your work. In this post, we looked at data from 50,000 RescueTime users to answer one of life’s biggest questions: How much of your day is spent multitasking with communication tools? And just how bad is it for your productivity?

Communication overload: Workers on average check email and IM every 6 minutes

If you want to talk about things that get in the way of meaningful work you should probably start with email and IM. We spend all day Slacking, emailing, messaging, calling, and texting (while trying to do the work we were hired to do as well!) In this post, we looked at our data to discover how often people are checking their email during the workday and what that does to our ability to focus.

Slack vs. Productivity: What happened when everyone’s favorite communication tool went dark?

On June 27th, Slack—one of the top messenger tools used by companies around the world—went dark. What happened next will shock you! Just kidding. We’re not going to get that clickbait-y. We did, however, find some pretty interesting stats around what happens to your productivity levels when you can’t use a tool like Slack.

Read more data posts on the RescueTime blog:

RescueTime gives you the data you need to build better work habits and take control of your time. Sign up for free here

The Interviews: Wisdom from the frontline of the battle for your focus

RescueTime blog interviews

We love learning about productivity, time management, and how to optimize our days. And we’re not the only ones. That’s why this year we made an effort to reach out to and talk with some of the most interesting people working in this space to find out what makes them so much more productive than the rest of us!

Habit coach James Clear on the 7-8 minutes a day you need to master to be truly productive

Best-selling author and coach James Clear has spent the last few years answering one of life’s biggest questions: How do we commit to our goals? His answer is deceptively simple: build better habits. In this in-depth interview, James runs us through the building blocks of good habits and tells you the 7-8 minutes a day you need to master in order to be truly productive.

Behavioral designer Nir Eyal on why you’re not “addicted” to tech (and why it’s so dangerous to say you are)

You only need to walk down a busy street to see how “addicted” everyone is to their technology. And it’s even worse when we can claim our actions are fine in the name of work (like checking your phone before bed!) But according to behavioral designer and Hooked author, Nir Eyal, saying we’re “addicted” isn’t the right way to think about our relationship with technology. And in fact, saying so can do us even more harm.

Future Workplace founder Dan Schawbel on how to fight the loneliness epidemic at work

Is technology making you sad? According to best-selling author Dan Schawbel, it is. In fact, a US Surgeon General claimed the country is currently facing a “loneliness epidemic” with 40% of Americans saying they feel isolated. Even worse, it’s taking a toll on us both mentally and physically. (According to research, loneliness has the same health risks as smoking 15 cigarettes a day!) So how can we fight this loneliness epidemic? 

Futurist Alex Pang on making a 4-day workweek work for you

Who wouldn’t want to go home at noon? Or take every Friday off? Sure, working less sounds great in theory. But in practice? We’re all too busy. Or maybe we’re not. In this interview, futurist and Deliberate Rest author Alex Pang explains how (and why) the most creative people work less than the rest of us.

Read more interviews on the RescueTime blog:

RescueTime is used by founders, CEOs, best-selling authors, and academics to stay focused and productive. Sign up for free here

The Advice: Strategies for scheduling your day, protecting your focus, and fighting procrastination

RescueTime blog advice

There’s a pretty clear reason why productivity and time management advice is so popular. Our days are getting busier, expectations are rising, and the thought of getting more done in less time is understandably appealing! But not all advice is equal. Working more means a higher change of overwork, stress, and eventually, burnout.

This year, we focused on finding the middle ground: ways to boost your productivity, keep your attention where it needs to be, and be able to say when you’ve done enough for the day.

When to work: How to optimize your daily schedule for energy, motivation, and focus

How many times have you started a day on a motivational high, only to hit the dreaded 2 pm crash? Not all working hours are equal. And unless you’re some sort of productivity super-being, you more than likely end up riding a rollercoaster of motivation, energy, and focus as the day progresses. But, as it turns out, that’s totally natural. In this post, we explore our body’s natural ebbs and flows of energy and how you can use that information to ride the current.

The procrastination equation: How to actually start (and stick with) the tasks you’ve been putting off

We all have that one (or more) task we really want to do. But for some reason keep putting off. Whether you’ve been avoiding an uncomfortable conversation, starting an ambitious project, or asking for honest feedback, it’s often hard to overcome that initial friction and fear. In this post, we look at some easy ways to give your motivation a jump start and do the things that matter most to you.

What to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed at work

There’s a fine line between “I’ve got everything under control” and “I’m in way over my head.” And sometimes, all it takes is one extra task on your already stretched to-do list to let the stress and weight of feeling overwhelmed take over. So what do you do when the scales tip out of your favor? This post presents a 5-step plan for overcoming overwhelm and getting back on your feet.

The “Everything is Important” paradox: 7 practical methods for prioritizing work

One of the biggest struggles in the modern workplace is knowing how to prioritize work. Workloads are ballooning and everything feels important. However, the truth is that a lot of the work we do every day doesn’t really need to be done. At least not right away. In this post, we explain and illustrate 7 powerful methods for separating the wheat from the chaff and putting your time and energy where it matters most.

Read more advice on the RescueTime blog:

Thanks for reading! See you in 2019

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Jory MacKay

Jory MacKay is a writer, content marketer, and editor of the RescueTime blog.