In this article, we’ll explain how to understand idle minutes and idle seconds in the Activity Summary report.

Key Points

  • An idle minute is a minute with no keyboard or mouse activity. The “Idle Minutes %” is the percentage of all work minutes that were idle. 
  • An idle second is a second with no keyboard or mouse activity. The “Idle Seconds %” is the percentage of all work seconds that were idle. 
  • It’s normal to have idle minutes and idle seconds. For example, idle minutes and seconds can accumulate when employees are on calls or are thinking. 
  • Depending on the user’s role, it’s normal for idle minute percentages to range from 5% to 70%. The typical percentages for idle minutes will vary considerably by role.

Calculating Idle Minutes and Idle Seconds

A minute is considered idle if a user was tracking time on the computer during this minute but absolutely no mouse or keyboard activity was detected. If there was at least one keystroke, mouse click, or mouse movement during this period of time, the minute won’t be considered idle.

  • The Idle Minutes % is calculated as the sum of all idle minutes divided by the number of complete work minutes tracked on the computer.
  • Incomplete minutes are not counted as inactive even if no keyboard or mouse activity was present.

    For example, a user tracks time on the computer from 2:00:00 PM to 2:00:57 PM with no keyboard or mouse activity. That minute is incomplete, so it wouldn’t be considered inactive, even though no keyboard or activity took place during this time.

A second is considered idle if no keyboard or mouse activity was tracked during this second.

  • The Idle Seconds % is calculated as the sum of all idle seconds for the period divided by the total number of seconds tracked on a computer for the same period. For example, a user was typing non-stop for the first 30 seconds of a minute and then paused to think for the remaining 30 seconds in that minute. The percentage of idle seconds for this minute would be 30/60*100% = 50%.

Typical Idle Minute and Idle Second Values

The values for idle minutes and idle seconds displayed in the report can vary significantly between users, based on the “Inactive time starts after” setting found on the Manage Users page. A user who has this set at 3 minutes may have substantially fewer idle minutes and seconds compared to a user where inactive time won’t begin until 30 minutes have passed.

The amount of idle time also greatly depends on the user’s role. Here are the typical percentages for idle minutes and idle seconds for different jobs:

  • Sales People: Idle minutes: 40–70%; idle seconds: 50–90%
  • Management: Idle minutes: 20–60%; idle seconds: 40–80%
  • Software Developers: Idle minutes: 30–60%; idle seconds: 50–80%
  • Designers: Idle minutes: 30–50%; idle seconds: 50–80%
  • Client Support: Idle minutes: 10–20%; idle seconds: 20–40%
  • Data Entry Specialists: Idle minutes: 5–10%; idle seconds: 10–20%

Important Facts About Idle Minutes and Idle Seconds

A high percentage of idle time doesn’t necessarily imply low productivity or vice versa. 

  • A user who spends a lot of time in meetings or on phone calls would naturally have a fairly high percentage of idle time.

It’s almost impossible to have an idle seconds % that is close to zero. 

  • It’s highly unlikely that a user could have keyboard or mouse activity EVERY second over a long period of time (e.g. a whole day or week). 
  • An extremely low idle seconds % may not mean that the user is ultra-productive. It might mean that the user is cheating the time-tracking app by engaging auto-clickers, placing heavy objects on the keyboard, etc.

The idle seconds % is always higher than or equal to the idle minutes %. 

  • In most cases, the idle seconds % is substantially higher than the idle minutes % and this is absolutely normal. It’s unrealistic to expect a user to have keyboard or mouse activity each second of the workday.

The absolute values of idle minutes and idle seconds don’t show how productive or unproductive one particular user is. 

  • It’d make more sense to compare the idle times of several people in similar job roles to evaluate the activity level of one particular user.

Note: We do NOT count calendar minutes. Instead, we look at 60-second intervals of time tracked for a particular website/application. 

If a user spends less than 60 seconds on one website/application, that time will automatically be considered active. If a user tracks 2 minutes and 30 seconds of work on a particular website, the last 30 seconds would be considered active since switching between applications/websites requires input from the user.

For questions, comments, or feedback regarding this topic, send an email to support2@timedoctor.com.

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