RescueTime now offers a wide array of integrations with partner services. These allow users to greatly expand the scope and functionality of what can be done with RescueTime data and feature actions. Many of these features are based on user requests over the years, some are new ideas that we have had ourselves that we think will help improve your productivity and enhance your digital lives. Check out all that you can do with RescueTime!
Connect RescueTime to hundreds of apps with IFTTT and Zapier
RescueTime now provides links to two connective services, If This Then That (IFTTT) and Zapier, which give users the ability to connect RescueTime data and feature events to a large number of other services. Features such as Alerts, FocusTime, Daily Highlights, and daily Activity Summaries can interact with applications and apps on your computer, mobile devices, and other internet-enabled devices. Each of these relations is called a recipe (IFTTT) or a Zap (Zapier) and is set up with a few simple steps on the partner website. There are now over 300 connected services and you can even create new connections yourself!
Here are some of the possibilities:
Enhance the functionality of FocusTime. You can do a number of things like start and stop a session based on the date/time or Google calendar events, or have a session block out other distractions by posting “do not disturb” status in your media outlets. You can start a FocusTime session automatically when you arrive at work or mute you phone when it is in effect (some features require additional products).
Use daily summaries to do more with your data. You can have summaries emailed to you at the end of each day to get automated daily reporting. You can have this summary logged automatically to a Google spreadsheet or in a service like Evernote. You can have them logged as a detailed event in Google calendar or receive them as Slack messages.
Extend the range of Daily Highlights. Have a highlight logged when you have a meeting scheduled in Google calendar or when you post a Tweet, or post your Highlights as Tweets. Create a highlight for each email you send in Gmail.
Use Alerts in new ways: post them to Slack or Facebook, send them via SMS, or schedule a phone call when an alert in triggered; send an alert via Gmail based on specific criteria, like after a day when you spent more that 20% of your time on email and communication
Keep track of your photos with timestamps in your logs from iOS devices or Daily Highlight entries from an Android device
Log your visit to your favorite coffee shop with Foursquare
These are just some of the things you can do with IFTTT and Zapier. There are over 300 available services. Find out more information about IFTTT here and Zapier here and start creating your own new features.
Developers, keep track of your code commits with Git and GitHub
Git is a popular version control system for software projects. You can use Git’s flexible hook system to maintain a log of your code checkins within your RescueTime account, so you can see what you accomplished on days when you spent lots of time coding. If you host software projects on the social code hosting repository GitHub, you can keep a log of your code checkins in your RescueTime account. Checkins will show up as highlights on your dashboard and in your weekly emails.
Find correlations between your time, sleep, fitness, etc…
You can do more with your data with the data analysis tools Gyroscope, Zenobase, and Exist.io. Gyroscope, for example, is “A personal website powered by your life.” Connect your online accounts and see beautiful weekly reports showing how all your productivity and fitness data fits together. RescueTime can add time about your productivity levels to your weekly Gyroscope reports.
Supercharge FocusTime to limit distractions
To really block out distractions while in a FocusTime session, connect RescueTime to Slack and you will be automatically marked as ‘do-not-disturb’. If you are feeling more masochistic, try connecting RescueTime to a Pavlok wristband and shock yourself every time you hit a blocked page during a FocusTime session. You can also use IFTTT and Zapier to mute your phone, post do-not-disturb messages on your calendar, and much more.
Many more integrations
Some of the other notable integrations we have:
Automatic: Track your driving time just like an app or website
Beeminder: Commit to meeting your productivity goals or pay a fine
At RescueTime, we are always looking for ways to expand our horizons. Have a suggestion for an integration? Let us know in the comments!
RescueTime was initially imagined as a way to capture and evaluate data from the computerized workplace – essentially an online-activity meter. The core logging functions of RescueTime are meant to provide a precise measure of active time spent on the computer, with an eye towards maximizing productivity and efficiency. Our application retains this functionality, but it has been expanding its boundaries as the product develops and user demand dictates. It has become evident that users desire a broader spectrum of time-recording functionality with RescueTime, one that can include various activities spent outside of or away from work. Accompanying this demand is an increase among users in the use of measurement tools for these various life activities. There has been increasingly broad adoption of devices and applications recording various aspects of personal life, such as calendars and and health monitors (exercise, diet, sleep, etc.), and the wish for a way to include these details in RescueTime metrics. There are some engineering and future planning decisions that we face here at RescueTime as a result of these two, possibly competing viewpoints – work, in isolation from the rest of life, and work, incorporated into a holistic picture of a person’s activities.
Here are two examples of situations where we are faced with development decisions.
1. Logging active vs. passive device usage
RescueTime works by recording the window titles of whatever application, document, or webpage currently has focus on a computer or mobile device. This recording is of active use, defined as regular keyboard or mouse input. After five minutes without such input, RescueTime times out and stops logging until there is input again. The result is a very precise record of “active” computer use, meant to capture user activity. But what if someone wants to record activities usually considered not to be work – watching videos, for example? Currently, RescueTime does not record extended use of most video players, but users generally expect it to and are surprised when it does not.
• Should RescueTime record all computer usage as inclusively as possible or retain a focus on work only?
• How should it include other non-work activities?
2. Offline time activity support
For Premium users, RescueTime does have the means to provide details about time spent away from the computer or not otherwise registered by the application. There are two options here – a time-away popup that asks users to categorize the time spent since the computer went idle, and the Enter Offline Time page, where users can select specific spans of non-categorized time and allocate them as desired.
• Are there ways that this functionality could be improved to better include life activities?
Users have suggested several ideas here: more options in the time-away popup; integration of calendar data from an external source; the ability to create new top-level categories to accommodate these types of activities.
• What can RescueTime do to better serve users here?
One of the cool, helpful new features on RescueTime’s new website is the availability of Day Timers. Users can activate a timer to give themselves a stand-alone, heads-up display of cumulative logged time and their current productivity ranking for the day. This appears in the form of a re-sizeable browser window. Personally, I activate the timer and then put the window in back of the other browser tabs and application windows I am using. I use this timer to keep track of my work time for the day and check in periodically to see where I am. I find that this provides both confirmation of work done and motivation to reach my daily goal. I also use the timer to schedule breaks, taking some time after every hour of completed work for coffee, other tasks, or a short walk. This keeps my mind fresh throughout the day. One additional way of using Day Timers is to keep track of time spent on particular activities. If you are looking at an activity in your reports and activate a timer, it will show cumulative time spent on that specific application or website. This is a good way to monitor use and be aware of how close you are coming to your positive and negative productivity goals. It is often surprising to me how my experience of time spent on something differs from actual time spent.
How to use Day Timers
Timers can be opened from any report, just look for the green button that says “Day Timer”. You can create timers for applications, categories, productivity levels, or goals. The timers will update continuously throughout the day, so you can just leave them open in a spare corner of your screen or a second monitor and watch your time add up.
We’ve been using these timers internally for several months, and we’ve gotten some great feedback from some of our users (thanks to Joos Buijs in particular!). Check them out, and let us know what you think!
I recently came across an Austrian article that raises some interesting questions about the use of technology in “measuring” our lives (http://www.format.at/articles/1328/940/362012/die-vermessung-ich[in German]). The scope of this technology continues to increase and there are more opportunities for its insertion into our lives than ever before.
Here are some examples of the latest technology:
– an armband that measures physical activity, including steps taken, distance walked, and calories burnt; length and quality of sleep; and with auxiliary links to mobile devices and a scale, meal planning and weight management (http://www.fitbit.com/)
– work productivity software that measures active computer use and trends very precisely (http://www.rescuetime.com/) [That’s us]
– a strap-on device for posture and movement monitoring and correction (http://www.lumoback.com/)
– a fork that measures eating habits and mechanics (http://www.hapilabs.com/)
– an all purpose physical activity device for multiple kinds of exercise (http://www.runtastic.com/)
– a scale that provides body anaylysis by measuring weight, BMI, body fat, and heart rate (and also local air quality to boot) (http://www.withings.com/scales)
– a diabetes app testing blood sugar (http://mysugr.com/)
– comprehensive health management software (https://www.dacadoo.com/)
Those who embrace this technology often self-identify as members of the “Quantified Self movement,” which is characterized by the search for informative feedback from devices such as those listed above. Some see in the wealth of available data a “digital reflection” of their lives – this is felt to be empowering, allowing individuals to achieve a greater degree of self-awareness and to take proactive steps to optimize efficiency, health, and happiness based on adjustment of recognized patterns. Sometimes the motivation for self-monitoring is a desire for improvement, sometimes for identifying and solving problems.
There are potential negative consequences to the adoption of this new technology and the hyper-analytical mindset and lifestyle that can result. Having such a wealth of data at one’s fingertips, and a feeling of overarching responsibility for this data, can lead a person to believe that they are accountable and culpable for everything that happens in their lives. There is also a danger of misinterpreting data – a person can mistakenly identify correlations among metrics and activities where there are none, or miss important ones that do exist. This misinformation can then be used to make lifestyle decisions with potentially harmful consequences. There are also issues with ownership of this data, its security, and its potential uses by others.
This raises a number of questions for debate:
1. Are there specific uses of self-measurement technology that you find seriously problematic?
2. Do we need some degree of education about understanding certain data to draw out the positive benefits of self-analysis and avoid pitfalls? If so, what would this education involve?
3. What type or types of measurement are the most important in the search for self-improvement?