Meet the new RescueTime – the big list of new features

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

dashboard-mobile-desktop

  • 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

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

activity-2

  • 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. premium-slug 
  • All reports have a “changes over time” view that gives a historic perspective on how you are spending your time. premium-slug
  • You can share the results of a report by email or Twitter

Goals

create-goal

  • You can get notifications when you exceed a goal line via email or pop-up. premium-slug
  • 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 premium-slug

GrowlHelperApp

  • 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”)

Daily Highlights premium-slug

daily highlights

  • 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 premium-slug

offline time

  • 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 premium-slug

alerts-focustime

  • 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.


Introducing the New RescueTime

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.

dashboard

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!


Obama racks up karma and blows up servers with his Reddit AMA

President Obama made an appearance on Reddit this last Wednesday with an AMA (Ask Me Anything), answering questions from users for thirty minutes. At the peak of the event, there were over 198,000 users who were attempting to view the President’s AMA.

In just a couple of hours, the President gained over 17K points of comment karma. Based on stats from the RescueTime user base, he also had a pretty significant impact on Reddit’s server load (and other users’ page load times).

We saw that many users spent more time viewing Reddit’s heavy load outage page than they actually spent on the AMA page itself.

Reddit's Heavy Load Outage Page

We looked at the aggregate user’s Reddit time broken down between viewing the outage page and successfully viewing the AMA page. Here’s what that data looks like:

Graph of time spent on Outage page vs Obama's AMA page

The guys at Reddit posted a blog today giving some other great statistics regarding the event. They added a total of 60 servers to try and keep up with demand, but still had problems due to their load balancers not being able to keep up.

Overall this was a great opportunity for Reddit and the community at large, I would love to see on-going AMA sessions with the President on a monthly basis (regardless of who that ends up being!). Perhaps as an addition to the “Weekly address”?


Productivity in the Workplace – The 5 Hour Goal

In November of 2009 I used RescueTime’s productivity software to create a RescueTime goal that would alert me after I had spent five hours on productive activities at work. That five-hour goal was eventually adopted by the rest of the RescueTime team and has been a daily benchmark we’ve used ever since.

Recently, I was discussing this five-hour goal with a colleague and explaining how I came up with that specific number. And I thought others outside of RescueTime might find the reasons behind this goal interesting. Specifically, how it might be used to increase productivity in the workplace for you and your team.

Why the 5 Hour Goal?

After running RescueTime for five years, I have a good understanding of when I am being productive and when my productivity starts to drop. For me, I see a dramatic fall in my productivity in the workplace after spending five hours of my time on day-to-day activities. I also know that when I switch to working on more creative activities, I see my productivity begin to climb again. Using that information, I created a RescueTime productivity goal that was setup to alert me once I reached five hours of productive time for that a day. When I see my five-hour goal alert show up, I wrap up what I’m working on and move my focus towards more creative activities.

Productivity By Hour for Joe

Using this information I break my work day into two distinct categories, functional and creative.

Functional Activities

Functional activities are scheduled, expected, administrative, or janitorial. Sales meetings, database maintenance, responding to support issues, development of a scheduled feature, daily scrums, and paying bills – all fall under activities I consider “Functional”. Generally functional activities don’t give me a lot of opportunity to exercise the creative side of my brain.

Creative Activities

Creative activities are spontaneous and may have unpredictable outcomes. Comparing the strengths of various key-value stores, testing Amazon’s latest AWS offering, reading my favorite technical blogs, and prototyping an experimental feature – are activities I consider “Creative”. Giving myself time to work on creative activities invigorates me so I see my productivity climb, but also gives me a way to capture those unpredictable moments of inspiration that can sometimes lead to amazing things.

For example, one afternoon two weeks ago, I met my five-hour productivity goal and used my creative time to build out a database server using the new Amazon high performance storage offering. With only a few hours effort, I was able to test the database enough to see that, yes, the benefit to moving our primary database to the high performance storage option was a big win and certainly worth the costs.

By building in daily time for creative activities, I was able to measurably impact the RescueTime experience for our users, months before a database upgrade may have shown up as a scheduled activity.

As the CEO of RescueTime, I encourage all of my team to set aside time for creativity, not only to keep people motivated, but to capture those spontaneous creative ideas that can have a big impact on any business. Perhaps there is an opportunity for your team to improve their productivity in the workplace? You never know what unpredictable creative moments await you.


Welcome Wakoopa Social Users

2012-08-12: Import your Wakoopa data to RescueTime

Dear Wakoopa Social Users,

We wanted to take this time to introduce ourselves as a potential home for previous Wakoopa Social users. When we launched RescueTime in 2007, we hadn’t yet been aware of the work Wakoopa was doing.  We learned about Wakoopa soon after launching, and we’ve always viewed Wakoopa as kindred spirits in the domain of personal analytics.

We are saddened to hear that Wakoopa has shutdown their Wakoopa Social product – Wakoopa Social Shuts Down but we were happy to hear that they are making data exports available to all users.  We are currently working on our Wakoopa data importer tool, and will have that ready for use by next week.

We ask that you take 30 seconds to watch this video and if this sounds like RescueTime may be a great way to jumpstart your new relationship with your time, we will work to make the transition as easy as possible.

Click Here to signup for RescueTime

You can also keep up with us on Twitter and Facebook.

Joe Hruska, CEO  & Co-Founder – RescueTime


RescueTime SSL Certificate Maintenance

We are currently performing maintenance on our SSL Certificate. The existing certificate has expired, so you may see an “invalid certificate” while we are getting the updated certificate in place. I’ll update this blog post and our Twitter status ( twitter.com/rescuetime ) when we have completed the maintenance.

Thank you!

Update #1: New SSL Certification for https://www.rescuetime.com is in place. You should no longer receive an “expired certificate” error. We are still working on the new certification for https://help.rescuetime.com

Update #2: Maintenance complete!


Coming soon – RescueTime Mobile!

(updated) We do not have an iOS/iPhone application in the development queue. We do not have the same level of access to iOS as Android.

(updated) Folks, RescueTime mobile is here– look for us on the Android marketplace!

We’ve been a bit quiet lately but I wanted to let you know why – The RescueTeam has been hard at work with the development of RescueTime Mobile! We will be looking for beta testers starting in early March to help us test. Our first launch platform will be Android.

Our goal is to bring the same level of detail usage logging for mobile devices that RescueTime currently provides on the OSX and Windows platforms.

Outside of RescueTime Mobile, we’ve recently pushed out a lot of behind the scenes changes. One of the changes was a complete rebuild of our search infrastructure which is providing 10-50x speed improvements in search related functionality (Search, ProjectTime, and Custom Reporting).

Keep your eyes peeled here to be one of the first RescueTime users to get their hands on RescueTime Mobile.

Stay Productive!