New beta feature: Turn any RescueTime report into a live-updating widget

Quick Look widgets

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:

make quick look widget

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?


13 Comments on “New beta feature: Turn any RescueTime report into a live-updating widget”

  1. eddie says:

    I hacked together something similar earlier this week.

    I use Rainmeter for my desktop, and I like to keep an eye on my efficiency throughout the day. So I hacked together a plugin that basically pulls data from the API and parses it into a percentage that displays on my desktop at all times. It’s pretty nifty, and I find myself being more productive because i have a more or less real-time read-out of my daily efficiency %!

    • Robby Macdonell says:

      That sounds awesome! I haven’t seen Rainmeter before. That looks like the perfect way to display that kind of data. Good to hear the constant feedback makes a difference. That’s what we were hoping for with this feature.

  2. Nita says:

    If the widget is open does it count as time on Firefox?

    • Robby Macdonell says:

      Good question, but no. RescueTime only tracks time in the focused window. I suppose if you stayed active on that window and didn’t do anything else it would track time on itself. But if you set it off to the side, you shouldn’t see any extra time logged for the widget.

  3. Very nice. I suggested something similar some time ago, happy to see you guys working on this (http://help.rescuetime.com/discussions/suggestions/1446-widget)

    • Robby Macdonell says:

      Thanks! That’s a great idea. This is an exploration into how a more passive view of your information can influence how you spend your time. There’s a ton of ways we can go with it, including those that you suggested.

      Sorry we didn’t get back to you when you made that suggestion! Seems odd, especially since it was soon after we released a chrome extension that somewhat accomplishes what you were asking about. You can find it here: http://www.rescuetime.com/browser-plugin

    • That’s great, I had not seen that extension. Thanks.

  4. Nita says:

    Thanks Robby.
    Do you have any plans to place a similar timer in the menu bar icon?
    Another tracker I use has this feature and it is quite handy.

  5. This type of functionality fits nicely with the Live Tiles in the Metro interface of Windows 8. A dashboard app in Windows 8 where different widgets like this could be pinned to the Start Screen would be useful.

  6. Andreas says:

    A very good addition. Thanks! One suggestion though

    I don’t now anything about whether it would be hard to do from a programming perspective, but it would be really nice if one could select a standard set of widgets that opened automaticly with rescuetime. I like the feature, but I fear that I will not bother to create the widgets each morning and everytime i restart my computer during the day.

    Kind regards

    • Mark Wolgemuth says:

      Good thought. That is one of the capabilities we are considering while improving / generalizing the interaction model.