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. (update: it’s in the new version, but has been renamed “keyword filters”)
  • 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!


RescueTime for Android adds Website Reporting

(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:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rescuetime.android

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.

RescueTime Settings

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.

Screenshot_2013-08-16-10-38-53

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.

Screenshot_2013-08-16-10-39-01

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.


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?


Public Service Announcement: Old “Lite” browser plugin has been sunsetted

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):

https://www.rescuetime.com/browser-plugin

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


ProTip: Use Gmail to pipe your RescueTime alerts to IFTTT

ifttt-banner

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.

alert-setup

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

ifttt-trigger

In the “search for:” field, put the following:

subject:”RescueTime alert for All Productive Time” from:noreply@rescuetime.com”

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:

ifttt-spreadsheet-action-1

Now, when my alert triggers each day, I get a line that looks like this appended to a spreadsheet in my Google Drive.

ifttt-spreadsheet-basic

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: =VALUE(LEFT(A2, FIND(" at", A2, 1)-1))

You can extract a parseable time with: =VALUE(RIGHT(A2, 7))

Now, you have two columns you can use as the X and Y axis in a chart, like so:

ifttt-spreadsheet-chart

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!


It’s now easier to understand your time with the updated RescueTime weekly email

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been testing some new designs for our weekly summary email reports. We wanted to streamline the information a bit and provide more context around how you were spending your time. After several iterations, we’ve arrived at a version that we’re pretty happy with (and hope you will be, too!)

RescueTime weekly summary email

Here’s a rundown of what’s new in this update:

You can see how your time has changed compared to the week before.

relative-changes

We really wanted to make it easier for people to understand what has changed for them over the past week? Was there a spike in productivity? Did you work extra-long hours this week? We now compare the total time logged, productivity score, and goals to the corresponding values for the week before last.

Get more details about when you are the most productive. (Pro users only)

email-most-productive

It’s great to know what your average productivity is, but now you also see some extra details. You can see your most productive day, as well as the most productive time period. These are currently limited to our Pro customers only since some of the calculations are a bit heavy. Free users can still get this information, but they’ll have to click thorough to the website to view it on their dashboard.

Goals display has been re-worked.

email-goals

If you are tracking your time towards specific goals, they have been given a visual refresh. It now should be easier to understand, at a glance, whether or not you’re meeting your goals. If you’ve missed them, you can see how close you came. For pro users, you can also see how this week’s effort compared to the previous week.

You can learn more about the weekly summary email here.

We’d love your feedback. What do you think of the new email design?


Kindle users: RescueTime is now available on the Amazon Appstore

kindle-fire

To all Kindle Fire users: just a quick post to let you all know you can now get RescueTime for Android directly from the Amazon Appstore without having to go through alternative marketplace hoops.

RescueTime for Android works by noting how long you spend in your mobile apps and phone calls, reporting back to you your efficiency score, top distractions and categories right on your mobile device. There is a handy stopwatch tool for manually tracking things like meetings and exercise, and you can set a productivity score for each activity as you log it.

If you also have the RescueTime desktop application installed, you’ll be able to see your mobile time right alongside your other logged time:

mobile-rescuetime

Here’s the listing: RescueTime for Kindle Fire

Of course, users of non-Kindle Android devices can still get RescueTime for Android from the Google Play store.

Enjoy!