Big New Release @ RescueTime

Hot on the heels of bringing on a new team member (Montana Low– read about him on our refreshed company page), we’ve just pushed a new release!

Accompanying the standard pile of tiny bug-fixes and improvements are a few exciting new features that we’d like to introduce you to.

Revised Scoring System

A few months back we launched a scoring system to give people a single number to represent their efficiency (ratio of good time to bad time) and productivity (sheer amount of good time).  The goal with these scores was to give people a clear understanding of how they compared to other folks and how they compared to people across their business teams.

The problem with the scores (which we heard loud and clear from our users) was that they were a bit complex/confusing.  It was difficult to know what they meant and required a bit of reading/digesting for neophyte users to understand even the basics of how it worked.

So we’ve simplified matters and come up with a single score (“efficiency”) directly based on how you’ve rated your tags and/or categories.  Under the score, we show you your total hours for the period (just because you’re efficient doesn’t mean your productive if you’re only working 4 hours per week…  Sorry, Tim! 🙂 ).  And next to your score, we show you a comparison population of either the entire userbase or the business group you’re a member of (for our business customers).  The end result looks like this:

We love the new look.  We think it’s clearer, simpler, and it communicates our scoring system (and colors) a lot better, too.  What do you think?


I am in love with filters.  As soon as we had the concept of efficiency scores, I noticed a peculiar side effect.  In the evening, when I was goofing off on the computer, I’d turn off RescueTime.  Why?  Because goof-off time was negatively impacting my scores and I wanted to clobber my co-workers.  We firmly believe that being inefficient after hours is fine…  Our data strongly indicates that sweatshop hours end up hurting us more than it helps us.

But clearly turning off RescueTime isn’t the answer, because we lose valuable and interesting data about ourselves.  Enter, filters.

Filters allow you to focus the data you are seeing based on specific hour and date ranges.  For example, in my situation the time I care about being truly efficient is 8am – 7pm Monday thru Friday.  Once I’ve created a filter for this, I can look at a week, month or year– but ONLY be shown data (and be scored on) time within that criteria.  But heck– I’m curious about my evenings.  Do I ever work after hours?  How much time do I spend productively on weekends?  Blam.  I create a filter that shows data only 7pm-Midnight on weekdays plus all day on weekends…  That’s my “work/life balance” filter.  Here’s a screenshot of what filter controls look like on your dashboard:

And here’s a shot of what it looks like to create/edit a filter (which you can access by clicking on the manage filters link shown above):

Note that free users can only have two filters. If you need more than that, we’d love to invite you to upgrade to a paying plan.

We hope you’re as excited about these features as we are.  As always, we invite any feedback and would love to hear from you if you’ve got any feature ideas for RescueTime.

20 Comments on “Big New Release @ RescueTime”

  1. Flenser says:

    Isn’t there a danger that by comparing your users to each other, half of them are always going to be below average, and the lowest scoring users may get discouraged and (not wanting to know) stop using the service. Of course with those low scoring users gone the average will go up, which may discourage more users…..

  2. Radek Pilich says:

    I’m happy to see another update! Great work guys!

    I like that you’re trying to implement a competitive aspect into RescueTime. This new update will make the motivation by competitive once again a bit better.

    On the other hand, for me personally, the efficiency score doesn’t provide me much insight. Of all the charts, the “Time Spend” chart is definitely the most useful one for me. It would be great to have two, three or more of these charts on the dashboards, so we can clearly and quickly see how we spend our time on each individual day.

  3. Asfaq says:

    Wow.. this is a good set of nifty features added. Maybe now i’ll start to use the ‘goals’ and modify my tags accordingly 😉

    Keep the good work and grab a beer while you are at it. You deserve it!

    ~ Asfaq.

  4. cj says:

    I miss the line graph which shows how you’re doing over time. can you bring that back? it was my favorite part. while the scoring system is clearer, missing the time dimension of the visual feels overly simple.

  5. Tony Wright says:

    @Radek Thanks for the feedback! We’re ultimately moving towards a “build your own dashboard” sort of model where you can build/view any visualization you want with RescueTime data and add it to your dashboard. So I think we’ll be able to give you exactly what you want there eventually!

    In terms of the efficiency score not being a biggie for you… Well, I guess that’s okay. 🙂 It’s a way for people to easily compete (with themselves or with an aggregate group)… Sometimes it’s hard to look at data and say, “I’m getting more efficient”.

    A the end of the day, each person cares about different things, which is why the aforementioned “build-and-arrange-your-own-dashboard” idea is so exciting.

  6. Tony Wright says:

    @cg pulling that little line graph (called a “spark chart” for datavis junkies) was a hard decision. When we asked our users, most of them felt they didn’t need to see that on the dashboard (you can always see the “over time” line by clicking through to the detail page.

    The other issue with the spark chart is that it’s “expensive” in terms of the calculations required to show it. That means that the dashboard loads a touch slower when we have these graphs. There’s always a tradeoff on this front, but it stung to load two of these every time a dashboard page loaded.

  7. Paul says:

    The concept for the new efficiency box is good. But it takes up way too much space. Also, seeing my efficiency over time is much more useful for me than to see it compared to other users.

    For me, it is better to simply remove the new efficiency from my dashboard rather than have it get in the way. Thanks for providing that option.

  8. Drivingsouth says:

    Dear Rescuesite,
    I found i am in the top 2% of efficiency, should i quit or ask a raise. If ask a raise fee free to suggest how much 🙂

    This only includes tracking from my work’s laptop, so i assume some deviation exist, even so i have been thinking about how F#$%$#% much i’ve been working.

    I’ll introduce this tool to my boss TOMORROW 🙂

  9. Lou Mello says:

    Can not log into my dashboard. Can you folks help me.

  10. Ateeb Iftikhar says:

    I hate the new efficiency score system. How am i supposed to know that the other users are NOT lying ? or are being as HONEST as I am when it comes to tagging my apps from -2 to + 2.
    There should be a way whereby users can REVERT back to the OLD system if they want to. Personally I think the old system was way better…u just had to make it more visually easy to understand. NOT replace it with this.

    I really want the OLD scoring system back … at least you should give the option to ur users whether they want to change or not.

  11. Tony Wright says:

    @Ateeb Well, the old scoring system also depended on the honesty of users. It’s not THAT bad to depend on this– the vast majority of our users are free/voluntary users and thus not overly incentivized to actually LIE. The only real difference is that the new system is an absolute number– it’s actually quite a bit more accurate than the previous system (in addition to being clearer).

    Sorry it’s not an improvement for you- virtually any feature we launch is going to frustrate someone. We’d love to offer multiple options, but that is an expensive option and would take time away from other improvements.

    Regardless, thanks for the feedback!

  12. Australian Outback says:

    This is just bloody awesome, i’ve always loved your work. You just don’t know how much of an impact your having on the rest of us. This software just does what it does, amazing.

    With this filter it’s even better, you don’t want to stuff up your score but you also want to know what you’re up to. Crikey, these filters do just that. Thanks Matey.


  13. Balaji Dutt says:

    Hey Tony!

    Just took a look at the new features – the one I love the most is the filters (especially since it makes my score look a lot better 😛 )

    Wishlist for Filters – could you add the ability to set time in 1/2 hour increments (for example, 6:30 PM instead of 6:00PM) and could we define a lunch-hour as well – I often catch up on feeds during that time and don’t want it to distort my stats.

  14. John Cook says:

    The new efficiency measure is meaningless. I do not know the base population, their coding routines, nor are they an unchanging group. RescueTime may continue to woo users who like pretty graphics, but the power users will migrate elsewhere unless RT either allows the user to access their own data or provides sufficient flexibility (and sensibility) in the summary and visualization of the data.

    The ideal for RescueTime should be to provide the user with data in a flexible variety of formats. Simple users can take the one-size meaningless “efficiency” measure. Or, if the user understands math and can build their own productivity and efficiency algorithm, then they should be allowed to do this (and then share their algorithms with others). A simple example: Code the productivity of programs/websites on a many-valued scale (say from 0 to 100). To assess daily or weekly or monthly productivity: multiply productivity per program by the time spent active in that program. Walla. A measure of productivity that is constant across time, has an absolute underlying referent and so can give rise to meaningful productivity ratios (twice the score means twice as productive),
    and can be further refined to suit the user. A measure of efficiency: productivity / time. Time can be either active computer time or total work-day time or whatever the user wants.

  15. John Cook says:

    Clarification and Apologies on the last post: Upon rereading the comments by Tony Wright I noticed that the new efficiency measure is absolute (not relative), which addresses my biggest concern. Thanks, and sorry for presuming otherwise.

    However, I still do not know how it is calculated (presumably the productivity score * time in program / total computer time?). I would also appreciate a productivity score, since for me a certain level of productivity is my daily goal. And if you can allow users to write their own productivity algorithm, that would be the best of all (since my productivity in different programs are not simple multiples of each other, and there are diminishing returns over usage to some programs, such as gmail). Lastly, I presume that programs are still coded as the average of the productivity of their tags? I think it would be easier if the tags were additive.

  16. Donnie Berkholz says:

    Now how do I create filter-based goals? For example, I want to spend a certain amount of night/weekend time on a side project. Currently, I can only choose between “day” or “weekday.”

  17. Schoonzie says:

    Filters are awesome.

    I had previously set up the client to only record during work hours, but I couldn’t stop it recording on the weekends, so now it records everything and I can just filter by weekdays.

    Thanks guys!

  18. Awesome.
    I would suggest the ranking tool to be not only a comparison with other users but also with yourself from the past (like “ghost” races in racing games).
    Anyway, keep up the good job and congratulations!

    Thanks a lot guys!

  19. Tom says:

    Being that you can rate your own tasks by productiveness, the scores are totally meaningless as is the comparison… am I right? Tell me if I am wrong…

    If I rate work as 2, and personal as -2, and someone else rates work as 2 and personal as -1, then their score is incomparable to mine… no?

    I think there should be ‘shared’ tags (like work and personal), and the system could match you up against similar people (i.e. ALL of my tasks are marked either work or personal).

  20. dan lundmark says:

    Great work – I considered many of these questions myself in blog posts a couple years ago while designing the Blossom productivity app, check it out I did not use the term filters, instead I used Profiles that you could select based on what you’re doing at the time (Work, Home, Client Project, etc). This is important since some people use the same website or app for both ‘work’ and ‘play’ depending on time of day, or even moment by moment (lunch break).