RescueTime now does non-computer time! (codename: TimePie)

We just quietly launched a project that we codenamed “TimePie” (based on a conversation over a year ago with Paul Buchheit, the guy who created Gmail).

One of the most common requests we get from folks is the ability to log offline time…  After all, as geeky as we might be, a good portion of our productive life is spent away from our computers.  Meetings and phone calls can be downright toxic to our productivity but, good or bad, they are important and should be measured.

Requirements

You need to be running the most recent version of the RescueTime Data Collector (http://www.rescuetime.com/download).  You also have to have a premium account of some kind (sorry, free users– we still love you, but we’ve got to charge for SOMETHING!).  You’ll need to go to your Monitoring Options page to turn on this feature (it defaults to off for all users for the time being).

How Does it Work?

First of all– lets’ get it out there– it’s not going to be about data entry.  We’re sacrificing some detail and resolution for speed and ease of use.  You literally don’t have to touch your keyboard for this feature.

After you’ve left your machine idle for more than a few minutes, RescueTime will pop up similar to the one shown below.  The clock on this timer window will keep ticking until your machine is no longer idle.

timepie

The three buttons are configurable (on the aforementioned Monitoring Options page), but will default to “Meeting” (for face to face time), “Phone Call” (for work related conference calls), and “Other Work” (for anything AFK like sketching, scribbling, whiteboarding, making dioramas, etc).  You also have the VERY large “None of your business” button.  Our goal with these default buttons is to record work time and to click the “None of your business” button for any away time that isn’t work related (lunches, breaks, etc).  However, because the buttons are configurable, you can use it however you like.

When you click on one of these buttons, it will push an activity to RescueTime in the same way it pushes information about an App or Site.  In fact, this data will exist just like an app or site and can be tagged or categorized in just the same way.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  Give it a try, take it for a test drive and let us know your suggestions/thoughts in the comments.


6 Comments on “RescueTime now does non-computer time! (codename: TimePie)”

  1. David says:

    Almost there… My non-computer time is already pretty well characterized in my Outlook calendar. Over 95% of my time is spent either in meetings or working on the computer (or sometimes both). Is there some way you can get the data from Outlook’s calendar in easily?

    • Tony Wright says:

      @david We thought a lot about integrating with Calendars for offline time… It’s technically do-able. But we couldn’t find our way around 3 issues.

      1) Calendars have a non-perfect relationship with reality. If you weren’t religious about starting and stopping meetings on time, entering in all impromptu meetings, and removing any canceled meetings, you’d have incorrect data.
      2) Overlap. “Collision detection” is VERY difficult for us, technically speaking. If you worked on your computer from 1pm-2pm and had a scheduled meeting from 1pm-1:30pm, how do we know what you ACTUALLY did?
      3) While Outlook/Exchange is a the 800lb calendaring gorilla, there are zillions of scheduling apps out there. Out customer base is chock full of smallish companies (as well as some huge ones) and we obviously have a VERY good understanding of which calendaring apps they use. Even if we were perfect on the Outlook front (ignoring #1 and #2) we’d still be failing to server a sizable majority of our customers.

      All that being said, I wouldn’t rule out Outlook Calendar integration– we just figured we’d start with something easier that could help all of our users.

  2. Mark Barnes says:

    This is a great new addition, enough to make me consider becoming a paid user. I appreciate the simplicity, but I wonder whether the addition of a simple slider I could drag to limit the time submitted would make it even more useful. Often I might go to a meeting, then to lunch, for example. Submitting a partial time could re-display the box allowing me to enter two tasks, if I so wished.

  3. Ross Hammer says:

    This is a nice start, certainly better than nothing, but having only three options to pick from is quite restrictive. In an office environment, it may be useful to document your time seperately for filing, faxing, meeting with a customer, internal meetings, preparing marketing materials, and coffee break. That’s six distinct categories just off the top of my head. Simplicity is always a good start, but at least a little expandability would go a long way.
    Also, I noticed that even if I tell RT to pause for an hour while I take my lunch break, the idle dialog still comes up. This should not happen when RT is disabled.
    Last, I like Mark’s comment about being able to split up away time between multiple items. Again, more complexity, but potentially much more accurate for people that are detail oriented.

  4. […] RescueTime now does non-computer time! (codename: TimePie) […]

  5. MikeT says:

    I disagree on the “we’ve got to charge for SOMETHING” statement.

    You have granular data on my daily workhabits as well as every window that pops up on my screen. I think that you should be able to give away the full featured individual data collection and reporting service for FREE. then, you monetize the reporting across the anonymized aggregate data set.

    As you have seen when investigating cost of daylight savings time, it is not the individuals that show this trend, it is the combined data set.

    Your company’s number one asset is NOT the individual subscriber set. It is the aggregate data those subscribers are providing. Any action you can take to increase the volume and acuracy of that data set is a win. Once you have recouped your initial investment (assuming you even need to do this at this stage of the game) You should not have to charge the individual users for anything more. You should be able to give away all the individual collecting and reporting functions.

    1) make data collection tool.
    2) give it away or charge enough money to support itself until critical mass
    3) sell reports and/or access to the anonymized aggregate data to other businesses and/or managers
    4) PROFIT
    5) reduce individual fees for the people providing the data
    …) increase user base, add features, expand who can get to the limited free aggregation…

    It is this aggregation of data model that drives most of the so-called social sites. Facebook is not selling the service people are using. they are selling the data that service is collecting in the background.