Category Archives: News

Top time sucks of 2014 (and how to deal with them)

Every year thousands of hours are wasted at work. A study by found that according to 26% of employees surveyed, the Internet is their number one distraction.

While web is a critical business tool, its misuse in the workplace could cost businesses more than $178 billion annually in lost productivity, as calculated by Websense. Your Facebook check doesn’t sound that guiltless anymore, huh?

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Music doesn’t increase your productivity (but it helps you get more stuff done)


Listening to music at work is still an individual thing – one can find it helpful, while others, disturbing. Yet, various studies claim that it’s able to boost overall workplace performance.

In a survey by Spotify, respondents admitted that music helps them do more because it creates a relaxing state, which makes them less nervous and fatigued, more energetic and enthusiastic while doing everyday tasks.

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Conflicts at workplace erode productivity, a study shows

Conflicts at workplaces are inevitable, and even necessary for progress. However, if handled poorly, it can lead to significant productivity loss, a recent study shows.

A study in New Zealand found that 24% of employees surveyed have had at least one disagreement or argument at work that distracted or prevented them from doing their job. Because of conflicts employees become less focused on their jobs, they make more mistakes and tend to miss deadlines. Other consequences include loss of motivation and self confidence.

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Top 24 unproductive applications of 2014 and what that tells us

We recently pulled out the statistics of the most-used unproductive applications so far used in 2014. Some of the results are predictable, like social networks like Facebook and Youtube taking the top spots. Other results show us a change in working dynamic, for example, that Gmail is marked as a top unproductive app. Check out the rest:

Social media is dominating our work lives

Of the top 24 unproductive apps, 5 of those are social networking sites. Facebook, the undisputed leader of unproductive time spent at work, being by far the largest piece of the pie. Together, time spent on social networks accounts for about half of all of the unproductive time spent at work.

As social media takes an increasingly large role in our daily lives, it’s more relevant than ever that companies consider their policies on social media. One side of the debate maintains that time spent on social media is wasting company time, and therefore company money. Another side of the debate considers web surfing on social media as a necessary break throughout the day, saying that employees can’t be expected to be constantly engaged and productive for 8 hours straight.

It is not the presence of the technology itself that influences productivity but how it is used –Bulkey & Van Alstyne, 2004 

In this study by Bulkey and Van Atstyne, they conclude that using social media itself isn’t what’s unproductive, rather than the reasons for using it. For example, social media can be beneficial for sharing information, gathering knowledge, networking and communicating with customers.

Email is no longer considered productive

The fact that enough people have designated email as unproductive application is a telling sign. It used to be that being in your email was a symbol of productivity. And while it is a helpful tool for communication, and can at times be very productive, recent tendencies in the workplace are showing people’s addiction to email, constantly checking, etc.

However the latest productivity specialists suggest that constant email checking is a habit that decreases productivity, as it pulls you out of a certain task, and you’re not left with a long enough stretch of time to delve deeply into your work. A study by Altos Origin says 40% of employee time is spent working on internal emails alone. Productivity experts say that 80% of those emails are a waste of time, bringing no value to the company.

Suggestions and best case practices offer creating a habit to limit email checking time to a few times per day, and working on them in batch. Other suggestions suggest to avoid email first thing in the morning, and rather tackle the day’s most important task right off the bat.

Some research shows that those employees who use social media throughout the day produce the same amount of results as those who do not, due to the mental break that it allows, and the resulting spur of productivity that occurs from a rested mind.

Video-watching at work is a thing

According to a study, 64% of employees watch videos at work. Our collected data shows that within the top unproductive applications you’ll find Youtube, Netflix and Hulu. This brings video-watching at work to 23% of all wasted time.

Similar to the argument on social media usage, breaking and relaxation is a necessary part of the working day to rest the mind so that the employee is able to return to their work at a higher level of productivity.

Food for thought

The working climate around us is changing. It’s up to you how you manage your time and build habits. A manager or business owner will have to decide on the policy on social media, email communication and leisure time at work. Will it be

Employees want to have fun as well. Besides social media, top visited unproductive applications include sites that are just plain fun(ny), like 9gag, imgur, and even just a site to play puzzles and logic games. We can see that employees are looking for entertainment throughout the day.

Industries that benefit the most from time tracking

The average size of a company using time tracking is 18 people. However, there are companies with 100 or 200 employees successfully using DeskTime (the productivity and time tracking software), the largest coming in at 430 employees. Working in the time tracking sphere, we’re often confronted with the question “well, who uses time tracking software anyway?” And so we’ve decided to give you a look into the different industries using time tracking, and why it works so well for them. To do that we’ve surveyed them all to find out what industries are already successfully using time tracking software in their companies.

Unsurprisingly, the top industries using time tracking are Marketing and IT tied for first place (both making up 21% each of the industries using DeskTime). In second place comes Web Development, and in third place comes Web Design. Together they make up about 3/4 of all the industries using DeskTime.

Here are the results from the DeskTime survey for a better look:

The top industries used by DeskTime

The top industries that use DeskTime

The results are significant.

What is it about these industries that make them want to use time tracking and productivity tracking software, and what are they gaining from it?

1. Accurately billable hours – it saves them time and money

What marketing, IT, web development and web designers all have in common is that they often work on a “project” basis. A certain project is expected to take a certain amount of time, and that amount of time is what will determine either the salary for said project of the employee, or the sum that will be asked of the recipient for the receiver of this project.

Tracking time, therefore, becomes a very useful tool. In stead of ball-parking an estimated amount of time it took to realise a project, you’re able to give a specific amount of time, which results in being paid exactly what you needed to be paid. We often round the amount of time down, or estimate less time. This gives you a fair and accurate figure of what you’re owed.


On DeskTime it’s possible to use the “Projects” function in order to track the amount of time spent on a very specific project. For projects that involve several employees (for example a designer and a programmer), you can even have the time spent on said project by cumulating it. All they have to do is both name the project exactly the same. (If the second person begins to type in the same name into the “create a project” category, they’ll see it already pop up as a pre-existing project). In this way, the administrator will see the total amount of time spend on the concrete project.

2.  Real statistics on their personal productivity

The industries, which use time tracking successfully happen to be industries, where you’ll find the most technologically advanced, the most willing to apply technology to their everyday lives. Programmers, IT specialists, marketers and designers tend to be part of the group of people who are on top of the trends, and aren’t afraid of trying the latest software out there. This is why these industries are the first to say goodbye to ancient time sheets, and to embrace the online solution. People who are friendly with technology also have a tendency to look to the tech for a solution to an every day problem.

These people are also getting used to having measurable statistics readily at their fingertips – some examples include Google Analytics for those who manager web pages, Facebook Page Insights for those who manage corporate Facebook pages, and Facebook Graph searches for the generally curious. People want the data, so why wouldn’t they want data on how they spend their time at the computer? This is one of the reasons that we’ve made sure that the DeskTime reports section provides as much possible information.

3. Remote working becomes an easily implemented tool

Particularly with a job that can be done at a computer, remote working is becoming more and more common. Some startups and companies are even hiring talent from different companies. What makes this possible and easier is;

  • Connectivity through the internet
  • The possibility to collaborate online

Collaboration and knowing that your colleagues or employees are really working is important, and that’s exactly what an automatic time tracking software like DeskTime does, regardless of different time zones and being in different offices.

So some industries that would absolutely not benefit from time tracking would be those that spend a minimal amount of time at the computer. Say, agriculture, retail, (as in store clerks) and post officers. Because they wouldn’t track any time at a computer. For these industries there are alternative time tracking solutions, like clocking inelectromagnetic swipe ID cards, and time sheets. All of these require you to be physically present to complete the job. 

Conclusion – not for everyone, but ideal for some

Time tracking and productivity software is not for everyone. However it is perfect for those who would benefit financially from the precise data, who are interested in different kinds of data, who work from a computer and possibly even from a different country.

*Because we only tracked industries for companies using DeskTime, we don’t see the data for individuals. Some may be interested to know that the highest “industries” for individuals are students, writers, and consultants.


How to Stay Productive and Focused During the Spring

The plant wall at the DeskTime office

The plant wall at the DeskTime office

The city breathes a sigh of relief as the snow pulls back, the sun shines longer, and layers of winter clothes begin to shed. That’s right, spring is back, the birds are singing, and people are just itching to get their share of vitamin D (that’s rays of sun, y’all!)

Though we love the spring, it doesn’t do much for office productivity. Because let’s face it, we want to be outdoors, enjoying the fresh, spring air.

Here are some tips to help you through those arduous days:

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[Book Review] How to be a Productivity Ninja

Since productivity is our favorite topic, we were thrilled to learn about a new book on productivity by Graham Alcott, founder of Think Productive, a productivity coaching company in the UK.

 The average book on productivity will load you down with theory. And while it will sound great while you’re reading, when you’re done you’ll be left wondering where to begin. You’ll be overloaded with information, and will end up never implementing any of it. The great thing about Productivity Ninja is that it gives you exercises as you read, so once you’ve finished the book, you’re already starting off with concrete action plans, that are specifically designed to your needs (because you wrote them!).

Possibly the biggest impact this book has had on my productivity is the notion of attention management. A concept that I hadn’t ever considered before, has lead me to make the most of my attention peaks during the day, and manage the more mundane tasks during the dips. Of course this was only possible because of the different tools and exercises in the book that helped me identify them. This will of course be different for each person.

Some general observations of the book:

  • Short, sweet, to the point. This book won’t waste your time.
  • The author really knows the average working person, absolutely relatable for the reader
  • Practical – great workbook aspect that sets you up for your own ninjafying
  • Challenges you – I’m having trouble implementing the “ruthlessness” aspect that Alcott defines as a characteristic of a productivity ninja – I’m a sucker for helping others with their tasks when I know I can do it better/faster/easier
  • The productivity ninja isn’t always an ethical worker – suggestions like scheduling false meetings to avoid colleague interruptions, gets the job done, but I’m not sure if it’s morally acceptable in every office

This book was all in all a fantastic read. I suggest it, but only on the following conditions:

  • You’re looking to make practical changes in your life to increase your productivity (things like managing your inbox, managing everyday tasks, how to make to-do lists that you’ll actually to, have productive meetings etc.);
  • You’re willing to challenge yourself;
  • You’re open to changing your daily routine;
  • You’ll actually dothe exercises in the book as you read along.

There were many practical suggestions, and we look forward to a guest post by author Graham Alcott to give us some more insight to the characteristics of a productivity ninja.

If you’re interested in the book itself, you can buy it online here:

Want more productivity inspiration? Think Productive run 21st century time management courses for organisations as diverse as eBay, the UK Government and the National Trust.