There are a lot of things I’m really excited about in the new version of RescueTime. We rolled out over 30 new features, but I’m particularly thrilled about a few of the changes we’ve made to the alerts you can set up to let you know when you’ve spent a certain amount of time on an activity.
Improvement 1. You can now set alerts for ANYTHING.
Before, I could only set alerts for categories or productivity levels. This left out two important situations. First, I’m interested in staying mindful of the total time I’m on the computer each day, not just the productive or distracting time, and it just wasn’t possible to create an alert for that before. Now, I can set an alert to notify me when I log above a certain amount of total time on a given day. This is a great way to curb my workaholic tendencies (and gets even more effective with improvement #2). Second, I can also now set up alerts for specific websites and applications. There are some times when an entire category is too abstract for me, and I just want to know when I’ve been doing something specific.
For example: I have a problem with Candy Jewels on my phone. I can’t stop playing it sometimes. Not that I think games are bad or anything, but I fall into a hole with this one in particular. I have an alert that let’s me know when I’ve played it for more than a half hour a day.
Improvement 2. You can now include a custom message to get sent along with your alert.
RescueTime alerts are often a way of sending myself a message in the future. Present Robby who’s thinking about how much time he’d ideally like to devote to certain things wants to send Future Robby a note either congratulating or chastising him when he crosses a certain threshold. The problem was, I couldn’t actually include any sentiment with that alert, just a dry status message “You have spent more than 2 hours on distracting activities today”. Now, I can customize the alert to say whatever I want, which allows me to get creative with it. Here are couple examples:
After 2 hours of distracting time:
After 10 hours total on the computer:
And here’s an alert our CEO uses to manage a shoulder injury he’s working through:
Improvement 3: You can automatically start a FocusTime session after an alert is triggered.
One problem I always had with alerts is I felt they were only half-useful when I was trying to nudge myself into changing my behavior. Sure, getting a reminder where my time is going is helpful, but sometimes I wanted something more. We combined our alerts with FocusTime, our site blocking feature to make the alerts a little more meaningful. Now, I can not only say “let me know when I’ve been getting too distracted”, I can also turn off distracting websites for a period of time as well.
I’ve found an interesting productivity hack for this one. When I first get to work in the mornings, I have a bad habit of making the rounds of Reddit, Twitter, Hacker News, etc… before I settle down onto something more serious. I wanted to see if I could improve how I started my day, so I set up an alert to block distracting websites for 30 minutes after 0.01 hours of time is logged each day. This effectively says “no distracting websites for the first half hour that I’m at the computer”. This is usually enough time for me to sink into something more productive, which sets the tone for my day. I’ve been doing this one for a couple weeks now (weekdays only), and it’s working pretty well.
Improvement 4: Goals now have alert functionality built in.
In the old version of RescueTime, goals and alerts were completely separate. Goals were for keeping track of metrics over time, and alerts were more transient. This always seemed cumbersome to me. The new version still has the ability to create goals and alerts separately, but I can choose to get alerts directly from a goal if I like. This saves me the extra step of creating the alert (and editing it if I ever need to change my goal).
Creating a new goal with notifications built in
These improvements have really changed the way I interact with goals and alerts in RescueTime, and opened up a whole bunch of new possibilities. I hope you like these new capabilities as much as I do!
The past few months have been really busy and exciting over here at RescueTime! We recently launched a completely redesigned version of the RescueTime.com for our individual users with over 30 new features and improvements. We’ve received a lot of great feedback and made a few changes to address some issues that have come up, and will continue to work to improve RescueTime for all of our users.
Here is a list of the features and improvements:
A mobile-friendly, responsive design
- The website is fully responsive and supports multiple screen sizes and layouts. We also no longer use Adobe Flash for our charts and graphs meaning that you can now use the RescueTime.com website on a much broader base of devices including mobile phones and tablets.
The RescueTime dashboard
- The dashboard has been completely reimagined – based around the most common ways our users interact with RescueTime. This gives you the information you need with fewer steps and in a more readable format.
- The default view is now the current day (was current week), making it easier to keep an eye on the current day’s activities, which are more actionable.
- There are several new visualizations, including a ‘spotlights’ section showing your daily patterns and comparisons with past time periods.
- Observations about the current day / week / month are available to help you make sense of the data in the graphs.
- Achievements block showing the lifetime total time logged, top productive day, and more.
Time and productivity reports
- You can pop out a live timer to keep an eye on the time you are logging for any report
- Reports show richer information about how an activity (or type of activity) fits into your entire day. (Example: You spent 3h 19m in Photoshop, that’s 5% of your total time this week, and 36% of your time spent in design & composition)
- It is now easier to categorize or edit an activity, or delete time that you’d rather not include in your reports.
- Most reports have a new “daily patterns” view that shows you how what time of day you tend to spend more time on activities, categories, or productivity levels.
- All reports have a “changes over time” view that gives a historic perspective on how you are spending your time.
- You can share the results of a report by email or Twitter
- You can get notifications when you exceed a goal line via email or pop-up.
- Goals can be created directly from a report page, making it easier to spot things you’d like to change and take action immediately.
- Goals were previously for categories and productivity levels only. Now you can set a goal for individual applications and websites as well.
- All-time goals allow you to keep track of the total time you spend on the computer each day.
- Redesigned goals reports. It’s now easier to track your progress over time.
Alerts & Notifications
- You can add a personalized message to alerts (example: ” 5hrs of productive time today! Congrats! You’ve earned yourself a break”)
- Distracting websites can be blocked for a configurable time after an alert is triggered. Great when you need an extra nudge to get back on track.
- An alert can be created for just about any metric we track (examples: “total time logged”, “all communication & shcheduling”, “very productive time” or just simply “Gmail”)
- You can now keep a running list of your accomplishments. It’s a great way to remember what you got done each day.
- There is a filtered view of your activities to help you remember what you worked on for days in the past.
Offline Time – track time away from the computer
- Offline time now has a mobile-optimized view so you can easily enter time while you are away from the computer.
- It’s now much easier to delete offline that you’ve entered by mistake.
Focus Time – Block distracting websites
- You can now disable a website during a FocusTime session, after waiting through a ‘cool-down’ period.
- FocusTime sessions now show an alert when they expire, allowing you to work in intervals.
- FocusTime now works on all major web browsers.
API / Integrations
- New “Ways to use your data” page showing you other services that you can use to do interesting things with your RescueTime stats. Currently we have integrations with Beeminder, Geckoboard, and Panic Status Board.
RescueTime for Android
- You may now track web sites on Android. Before, you could only monitor time spent in individual apps. This is an opt-in feature that requires enabling accessibility features on your Android device. You can get RescueTime for Android in the Google Play Store.
And a lot of small tweaks throughout the site…
- System health prompts: lets you know if you need to update the RescueTime application, or if you are building up a lot of uncategorized time.
- More configurable time display options for countries where the 12-hour time format isn’t used.
- Many, many usability enhancements.
Over the next few weeks we will be diving into more detail on some of the RescueTeam’s favorite new features. If you don’t already have an account and would like to experience it for yourself, sign up for a RescueTime account today.
If you are an individual RescueTime user you have probably noticed that your RescueTime Dashboard looks a bit different!
I am very excited to introduce to you the combined product of many years of user feedback and many months of development efforts – the New RescueTime. This is a quick blog post to go over the highlights of what you are about to experience with RescueTime in hopes that the transition from old to new is quick and easy and you can enjoy the site improvements as soon as possible.
This new version of RescueTime has given us the opportunity to use feedback we’ve received over the last few years to provide a better experience for our existing users. It will also make it easier for new users to become acquainted with the RescueTime product. With these changes we have undergone a huge technical upgrade replacing aging components and bringing our entire stack to modern and in some places bleeding edge technologies.
A lot of the changes you see were driven by the meteoric rise of mobile device use we’ve seen in the last few years. The RescueTime dashboard and reports will now work just as well on phones and tablets as they do on desktops and laptops.
New Feature Highlights
We have packed over 30 new features into this latest version of RescueTime and we will have a follow-on blog post [future link here] that goes over them in more detail, but I’m too excited not to mention at least a few of them!
- A completely rethought dashboard, based around common use cases
- A ‘spotlights’ section giving you a better sense of your daily patterns and things that have changed over time
- An ‘insights’ section that highlights notable information about the current day / week / month
- An Achievements block showing your lifetime total time logged, top productive day, and some other really cool information, especially for our long time users
- Reports have a new “daily patterns” view that shows you what time of day you tend to spend more time on particular activities, categories, or productivity levels
- Reports have a “changes over time” view that shows you how the current time period compares to the several days/weeks/months prior
- You can now set goals for applications (previously you could only set goals for productivity or categories).
- You can now compile a list of “highlights” about a given day. It’s a great way to remember what you accomplished
- New “What work did I get done?” view that shows you a filtered view to jog your memory about the productive work you spent time doing.
Old Features Missing
With all of the changes that were made, there were a few features that have been removed or are not yet ready for release. If there is something gone that you need, “Don’t Panic!” – you can still access the old site for a period of time, see the end of this blog post.
- The Projects feature as it was originally developed is no longer available in the new version of RescueTime. Our plans are to develop a much better replacement, but I can’t give you any time frames as to when that will be yet.
- Custom Reports AKA Saved Searches are not yet available in the new version. We will have saved search capabilities released soon.
- The Document and Details report is not available in the new version. You can still access all of your document details by first going to the Application & Websites report and clicking on specific applications to view the available documents.
- The Customizable Dashboard is no longer available in the new version. (Our new dashboard is perfect! So why would you want to customize it!? 😉 ) Seriously, though, the customization features were a lot of technical overhead that really didn’t get a whole lot of use, so we decided to go with a more structured approach.
- The Comparisons Report is no longer available as as single report. We’ve taken some of the things we learned from that report and applied them across the site. We will be adding even more new ways to view your data soon.
What does all this mean?
For the time being, the new version of RescueTime is only available to our individual users (both free and premium). If you are part of a Team account, a Research Project, or actively use the Projects feature, you will be automatically redirected back to the older version of RescueTime. The data is seamlessly shared between the two versions of RescueTime and will be for at least the next month or two.
If you are currently viewing the new version of RescueTime and want to switch back to the old version, you can do so by clicking the “old version” link at the top of the RescueTime Dashboard.
If you are an individual user and are currently viewing the old version of RescueTime, you can switch to the new version by going to the “settings” link on the old RescueTime Dashboard and selecting the “Click here to switch to the new interface” link on your Account Settings page.
Team users don’t despair, we’ve got some nice shiny new love coming your way soon.
We hope you love the new version of RescueTime as much as we do. We’re going to have a few bumps over the next couple of days, but we’ve got all hands on deck and will be addressing issues as they arise. I encourage you to take a bit of time to wander around the new site, take a tour of the new features and then come back and give us some feedback!
(Firefox users: up vote this if you want support on Firefox for Android: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=908224)
We just pushed an update for our Android app that adds the ability to report on time you spend browsing on your phone or tablet. Get it here:
To do this, we needed use Android’s Accessibility services, and this requires an elevated privilege you will need to manually enable. Our app will walk you through this when you click the “Enable website logging” option. However, here is a brief explanation of the process:
1) Open up the RescueTime app and click the settings button (the gear icon). Click the “Enable website logging” option. This will automatically take you to the system Accessibility Settings screen, if it needs to be enabled.
2) Find RescueTime in the Services list on the Accessibility settings screen and select it. On older devices you may already see an “on/off” switch for RescueTime here, just select On and you are done.
3) After tapping it, on newer devices it opens the screen for enabling the service for RescueTime that has a description of the service. Click “On” to enable it. This automatically signals RescueTime to begin looking for site info in browsers.
4) Achieve success! Supported browsers are: the stock Android browser, just called “Browser”, the Nexus series stock browser (a version of Chrome), Chrome (the version in the app store), Chrome Beta, and Dolphin. Not supported: Firefox and DolphinMini.
Have you ever wanted to keep a closer eye on the time you’re spending in a specific category or activity throughout the day? This week we rolled out a new beta feature that makes it easier.
If you have beta access enabled (see below for how to do this), you can turn any productivity, category, or activity report into a live-updating timer widget, simply by resizing the window small enough. You can then place this widget off to the side (or on a second monitor) and continue about your day. As you build up more time, the widget will update and show you your current status. You can create several widgets and position them however you want to create ad-hoc productivity dashboards.
Some things you can do with these widgets:
- Keep an eye on your time spent in email throughout the day
- Compare two metrics, like time spent on software development vs. time in meetings
- Turn your productivity score into a game, how high can you make it go?
Enable beta access: To try it out, you’ll need to make sure you’re in our beta channel by going to your account settings page and checking the “Beta features on” checkbox.
Once you’ve enabled beta features, just go to any report page and do the following:
The update frequency is the same as the rest of the RescueTime reports. If you’re a RescueTime Pro user, the widgets will update every 3 minutes. If you’re a free user, it’s every 30 minutes.
Isn’t this a really weird interaction model? Yes. It is. We’re eventually going to find another way to make it more discoverable. These widgets are a brand new way to interact with RescueTime, and we’re still playing around with several of the details. In that sense, the easter-egg treatment feels fairly appropriate.
All the standard beta feature disclaimers apply. It’s brand new. And there might be some bugs we haven’t caught yet. We’ll also probably change this up a bit over time as we get a better understanding of how people are using it.
We’d love your feedback!
What do you think of this new way of keeping an eye on your time? Does it help? What things are you using it to keep track of?
A really quick sunset, the kind you see in the tropics. REALLY quick. I’m thinking: tomorrow. This being the kind of sunset where no new data is accepted from these old client apps.
We have new plugins for both Firefox and Chrome that replace the old. They have been out for quite a while now, and the old one has been de-listed for a long time. Here’s where the new one is (links to extension galleries):
I imagine this affects no actual person, only zombie systems that are enjoying harassing our site, but if you are a person or sensitive “good” zombie currently using the old plugin, please switch to the new one.
IF you are an old plugin user, you can follow these steps and keep your old data:
1) Open the full dashboard on our site from the plugin: https://www.rescuetime.com/dashboard
2) Click “settings” top right and set an email address for yourself, and add the password
3) Delete the old plugin from your add ons/extensions list
4) Add the new one https://www.rescuetime.com/browser-plugin and register using that email address
We’re big fans of IFTTT (If This Then That), the awesome web utility that glues all your online services together via recipes that you create. You can use it to do all sort of things, such as:
- Save articles that show up in a Google Alert for your name to Evernote
- Backup pictures you post to Facebook in your Dropbox account
- Update your Twitter profile picture when your Facebook profile pic changes
- Text yourself the weather every morning
- Save your Foursquare checkins to Google Calendar
One of our users recently asked us about integrating RescueTime with IFTTT, and I think it’s a fantastic idea.
RescueTime Pro users can send themselves alert notifications by email or via a popup on their computer. Wouldn’t it be great if we could let those alerts act as triggers for events in other applications? Imagine the possibilities.
We’re exploring what would be involved in an official integration, but in the meantime, you can use Gmail to bridge your RescueTime alerts with IFTTT actions. Here’s an example based on our user’s suggestion of piping the timestamps of the alert notification to a spreadsheet so he can track the time of day he triggers the alert. For this example, you’ll need a Gmail account, an IFTTT.com account, and a RescueTime Pro account.
If you’d like to jump past the step-by-step, I’ve shared the completed recipe on IFTTT.com here.
Step One: Create a RescueTime alert, make sure it’s set to notify you by email.
If you’re a RescueTime Pro user, you can create alerts for time spent in any category or productivity level. We have one around the office for “More than 5 hours of Productive Time”. You have two options for how to be notified, either by popup or by email. You should make sure the “by email” box is checked. (whether you want to leave the popup notification checked is up to you.)
If you’d like to sign up for a RescueTime Pro account, you can do so here.
Now, let’s head over to IFTTT.com and create a recipe…
Step Two: For the trigger, choose the Gmail channel, and select the “New email from search” trigger
In the “search for:” field, put the following:
Note: You’ll have to tweak the subject line to match whatever type of alert you created. If you’ve received an alert in your email already, it would be a good idea to try that search string out in Gmail first and make sure you’re getting results from it..
Step Three: Choose an action
Here’s the really fun part where you get to be creative. Choose an action from the list of action channels. For the spreadsheet example, you can do something like this:
Now, when my alert triggers each day, I get a line that looks like this appended to a spreadsheet in my Google Drive.
That’s it! Er, almost.
One minor annoyance is that the “DeliveredAt” timestamps that IFTTT uses are in the format “January 17, 2013 at 05:48PM”. Google Spreadsheets have a hard time parsing that into a useful date or time, so it’s a bit difficult to do much with, like create a chart. Nothing that can’t be fixed by a couple spreadsheet functions, though.
You can extract a parseable date with:
You can extract a parseable time with:
Now, you have two columns you can use as the X and Y axis in a chart, like so:
I’m curious, how many of you use IFTTT? What types of things actions would you like to take based on your RescueTime data?
update: One of our users just pointed out that the formula above was broken because of WordPress converting the straight quotes to curly quotes. I’ve fixed that and hopefully everything works correctly now. Thanks Eddie!