RescueTime for Project Time Tracking (finally!)Posted: November 13, 2009
[edit: Important note! This is a new feature and (like most brand new features we release) might have a bug or two that we’ll be ironing out over the coming day or two. ]
 On Nov. 16 we improved the offline time entry in the project editor.
 On Nov. 17 we added support for query by project name to the data API.
 On Nov. 18 we changed the project time editor to offer 24 hour schedule.
It’s Friday the 13th- a pretty auspicious time to do a major software release, eh?
For a few months now, we’ve been pretty focused on our users who are trying to regain focus and enhance their own productivity. We’ve tuned up goals and alerts, added the ability to block distracting sites for brief periods of focus, and in general have tried to be the “nagging angel on your shoulder” when it comes to your productivity.
But we haven’t forgotten that lots of RescueTime users track time to help have an understanding of how they are juggling the projects in their lives. RescueTime heretofore hasn’t been great for tracking projects… But that’s about to change!
Introducting RescueTime Pace
RescueTime Pace attacks a very different (but complementary) business need than we’ve been attacking. Every day people painstakingly (and inaccurately) fill out project timesheets so that they, their clients, and bosses can understand:
- how much time projects are consuming
- which clients need to be billed and how much
- how each project is broken down. Are projects humming along? Are they bogged down with excess communication?
- Are projects on track to finish on time? On budget?
It’s occurred to us (and quite a few of our users– thanks to all for prodding us on this!) that RescueTime is already tracking individual tasks. All we really needed to do to allow project tracking is give people the ability to assign blocks of time to a project in a given day. With a few cues that RescueTime can offer, entering your time no longer has to be a painful memory exercise. Not only can we suggest which project we think you were working on (via smart keyword matching), but you can mouse over blocks of time and RescueTime will tell you what you were doing during that time.
Here’s a screenshot of what entry looks like:
We’ve also enhanced offline time on the assumption that once you start tracking project time, you need the ability to add and edit more granular tasks that might be away from your computer. The offline popup (if you use it) has more options and an optional detail field. You can also add/edit offline time with the project time tool shown above. Here’s what the new offline popup looks like:
Once you have assigned project time (accurately and in a fraction of the time a normal timesheet), you then have project specific reports about how project time breaks down, what the totals are, and how efficient your project really is. The reports should feel pretty familiar to existing RescueTime users. For groups, you can easily jump to an hour-by-hour (or day-by-day) timesheet for any user in the system with a handy menu. Screenshot of the new navigation to the right.
What about Existing RescueTime Customers?
This feature set is a standalone product built on the RescueTime foundation. It’s available by itself or bundled with the great productivity features that you’ve hopefully grown to love. Our existing paying customers get the bundled version free of charge … But because these features could be pretty noisy if you don’t want them, the project tracking features are turned off by default. You can turn them on here. Existing Solo Light (free) customers don’t get it for free, though if you mention this blog post in an email to me (tony@rescuetime dot com), I’ll try to wrangle you a discount on the upgrade at very least.
As with all things at RescueTime, this is just a beginning. The next (and most important!) step is to hear what you have to say. What’s confusing, what’s missing, what would make it great for you?