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.
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
In the “search for:” field, put the following:
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:
Now, when my alert triggers each day, I get a line that looks like this appended to a spreadsheet in my Google Drive.
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:
You can extract a parseable time with:
Now, you have two columns you can use as the X and Y axis in a chart, like so:
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!
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!)
Here’s a rundown of what’s new in this update:
You can see how your time has changed compared to the week before.
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)
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.
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.
We’d love your feedback. What do you think of the new email design?
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:
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.
We’ve been pretty busy lately trying to add some new features before the end of the year. Here’s a recap of some things you may have missed:
You can now sign up for RescueTime Pro using PayPal
We just added a support for PayPal as a billing option for RescueTime Pro users. We’ve gotten lots of feedback from our users requesting it, and we hope it will provide an alternative for users who can’t (or don’t want to) use a credit card. You can read more about it here.
New ways to use your RescueTime data
We set up integrations for two third-party services, Beeminder and Geckoboard. With Beeminder, you can import your RescueTime data to to automatically track your progress towards a productivity goal in Beeminder. With Geckoboard, you can display your RescueTime stats alongside your other business metrics on a custom dashboard.
Updates to offline time tracking
A few months ago we made some pretty major updates to how you can log offline time with RescueTime, but they came with a rather annoying constraint: You couldn’t manually go back and enter time on days where no no computer time had been logged. This was, by far, the most common complaint about the new interface. The issue was due to some technical constraints, which we eliminated last week. Now there are no restrictions for when you can enter offline time.
Overhaul of our search system (with much better performance)
For a long time, pro users have had the ability to do keyword searches, but recently the performance had really started to suffer. We made some significant changes to our search architecture to handle the extra load. These presented some pretty interesting technical challenges, which required a more creative solution than simply throwing more hardware at the problem. If you’re technically inclined, we’ve summarized the experience here. For most users, however, all you need to know is that it’s way, way faster than it was before.
New weekly summary email design
This is jumping the gun here just a little bit, but we’re in the process of rolling out some updates to our weekly email. We’ve reworked the design to make it more digestible, and added a few new data points so you can get an even richer understanding of your time. We’re rolling it out to our Pro users first, and then all users over the coming weeks.
More to come in the new year
We’re excited about these recent updates, and have even more planned for the next couple of months. Stay tuned!
We think RescueTime’s metrics are pretty valuable on their own, but when you put them next to stats from other systems, they get even better. That’s why were excited to announce our new integration with Geckoboard. Geckoboard lets you easily create customized dashboards that bring together metrics from a variety of sources, so you can keep a finger on the pulse of your business (or your personal life).
We worked with the Geckoboard team, and their excellent Developer Platform to create four widgets:
Your Daily Productivity Score – Show your RescueTime productivity score for the current day, see how it changes over time.
Today’s goals – See the current status of your RescueTime goals for today.
Time per category by day – See the time spent in a specific category by day over the past month.
Compare Two Categories Over Time – Compare time spent in two different categories over the past 30 days.
This opens up some pretty interesting possibilities to juxtapose different data sources. For example, here’s what my personal dashboard looks like:
In a single view, I can easily: monitor my Twitter mentions, see the state of my inbox, keep an eye on a weight-loss goal I set up with Beeminder, track my steps and floors climbed while wearing my Fitbit, and keep tabs on my time spent on the computer. By having all the data in one place, some interesting things jump out. For instance, today I’m not being terribly productive on the computer, and I can see that I’m in danger of falling off my Beeminder goal, so perhaps I should take a break and go to the gym? But then again, I see that I’m not spending as much time as I’d like on software development, so maybe I should just buckle down on that instead? Decisions, decisions. But now that I can see everything in one place, the tradeoffs are much clearer.
Similarly, here’s a look at our Team Dashboard: (Note: For managers with a RescueTime Team account, the metrics will be an aggregate rollup for all members of your team.)
This lets us keep an eye on more ‘system health’ metrics for our entire team. How’s traffic on the website? What are people saying about us on social networks? How productive are we being? We also included a graph comparing our overall time spent on software development to time spent in communications and chat (which is a ratio we’re constantly working on improving).
We’re really happy with how these widgets turned out, and are looking for ways to add even more in the future.
Read more about this over on the Geckoboard blog.
If you don’t yet have a RescueTime account, but would like to see your time on your Geckoboard dashboard, click here to sign up.
After many requests on behalf of customers– especially users outside the US, we are happy to announce we support subscription to premium service using PayPal.
PayPal payment choice is available at signup time or from the billing page for existing accounts. You can upgrade from free plans, or convert from credit card payment– it should support all account transitions.
Teams can pay using PayPal as well. Because the subscription is managed by PayPal and requires your approval for each change, to add or remove seats you need to go through a few extra steps than when using a regular credit card, but any plan is supported.
New users: Get RescueTime using PayPal
Existing users: Upgrade RescueTime using PayPal
Do you have problems setting new goals and sticking to them? I do. I’m downright terrible at it. Going to the gym, sleeping more, eating better. I have all the good intentions, but just not enough of the follow through. That’s why I’m pretty intrigued by Beeminder. They’re a service that keeps you focused on your goals by allowing you to enter into a “commitment contract” with them. Essentially, you pay them money if you fail at a goal you’ve set. It’s a way to add some real-ness to your efforts, and provide a tangible consequence if you give up.
Beeminder makes it easy to keep track of your progress by integrating with a bunch of automatic data sources (FitBit, RunKeeper, and Gmail to name a few). And today, they’re adding support for RescueTime. You can connect your RescueTime account to Beeminder and let them automatically pull in information about your productivity levels or the amount of time you spend in specific categories. This allows you to create all sorts of goals on Beeminder, among them:
- Increase your amount of productive time per day
- Decrease time spent in email
- Spend more time on software development
- Spend less time on Hacker news
Here’s my personal goal for increasing my productive time:
Basically, the yellow path represents the total cumulative productive time I’ve committed to logging for the next few weeks (units are in minutes). Measurements are automatically pulled in via the RescueTime API. If I fall below the line, I’ll have to pay $5 (you can adjust the pledge amount to make it more meaningful if you want).
It’s a great way to use your RescueTime data to motivate yourself to make meaningful changes. It’s also a great example of how the RescueTime API makes it easy to do interesting things with your data. Thanks to the Beeminder team for putting this together!
To give it a try, go to https://www.beeminder.com/rescuetime to get started. To learn more, check out the announcement over on the Beeminder blog.