April updates: Compare mobile to desktop time, Alerts improvements, and auto-updates to the desktop app!Posted: April 26, 2014
We’ve pushed out a number of new things over the past week or so that we are pretty excited to share with you. Here is a brief rundown. We will have expanded posts about some of these features in the next few days.
New premium report – Compare your mobile, desktop, and offline time side-by-side.
If you are using our Android app, or you log a lot of offline time, you will have noticed that all that time gets combined with your desktop computer time in the reports. This is actually pretty convenient, because it allows you to see everything all at once. But it does tend to obscure some of the details about those different contexts. We just added a new report that will allow you to see your time coming from different inputs separately. (Personally I was a little shocked to see just how much time I spend looking at my phone each day.)
Updates to alerts
We made several improvements and additions to the RescueTime’s alerts system.
More automatic FocusTime choices. After much feedback, we added more options to the automatic FocusTime site-blocking. Now you can set a longer interval for distracting websites to be blocked after an alert is triggered, or you can choose to have websites blocked for the entire rest of the day (requires the latest version of the application).
You can now create an alert for any individual website or application. You used to have to go through a pretty clunky process to create an alert for a specific website, now there is a link on the website or application’s report page to create an alert. This allows you to get extremely specific with the alerts you create.
Power user trick – Automatically launch a url when an alert is triggered. If you create an alert with a custom message, and you include a url enclosed with backticks in the message, the url will be opened automatically when the alert triggers. I have an alert for when I’ve been really productive that tells me:
Long day today! Take a break and look at puppies! `http://www.reddit.com/r/aww`
pssssst! Speaking of doing interesting automated things with alerts, we’re working on a few integrations that we’re really excited about, but they won’t be ready for a few more days.
Desktop-application update improvements
We’ve overhauled the way the RescueTime application handles updates, and the new process is much smoother. New users are currently getting this functionality, and we’ll be pushing out an update automatically in the next couple of days, and after that any future updates should be much less obtrusive than they currently are.
You can get the new version of the app now from the RescueTime download page.
The input sources report and RescueTime alerts are only available to premium subscribers. If you are on the free plan, you can learn more about upgrading to RescueTime premium here.
I hope you like these new features. There’s a lot more on the way!
This week, a security vulnerability known as the Heartbleed bug was discovered to be affecting major websites across the internet. RescueTime’s servers have been updated to address this issue.
All requests to RescueTime use SSL (HTTPS). All requests are terminated by Amazon using their Elastic Load Balancing Service. This service was patched to eliminate the Heartbleed bug on April 8th. This means users are currently protect against leakage resulting from this bug.
Additionally, as of April 9 all RescueTime server systems have been patched for the bug, or have been identified as not vulnerable. This is more a precaution than requirement since users do not directly connect to any RescueTime servers.
RescueTime is in the process of updating all passwords used in the administration of the service as the dependent services themselves are updated to protect against the bug, e.g. when the site service we use announces they are patched, we then update the password.
However, for further guarantee of security RescueTime will also update its server SSL certificates used in HTTPS and other privileged resources over the next week. We will make a second update when that is complete.
What should you do at this point?
It is now safe to change your password on www.rescuetime.com. You may also want to read our list of general steps you can take to browse the web safely while other websites are responding to the Heartbleed vulnerability.
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!
There are a lot of things I’m really excited about in the new version of RescueTime. We rolled out over 30 new features, but I’m particularly thrilled about a few of the changes we’ve made to the alerts you can set up to let you know when you’ve spent a certain amount of time on an activity.
Improvement 1. You can now set alerts for ANYTHING.
Before, I could only set alerts for categories or productivity levels. This left out two important situations. First, I’m interested in staying mindful of the total time I’m on the computer each day, not just the productive or distracting time, and it just wasn’t possible to create an alert for that before. Now, I can set an alert to notify me when I log above a certain amount of total time on a given day. This is a great way to curb my workaholic tendencies (and gets even more effective with improvement #2). Second, I can also now set up alerts for specific websites and applications. There are some times when an entire category is too abstract for me, and I just want to know when I’ve been doing something specific.
For example: I have a problem with Candy Jewels on my phone. I can’t stop playing it sometimes. Not that I think games are bad or anything, but I fall into a hole with this one in particular. I have an alert that let’s me know when I’ve played it for more than a half hour a day.
Improvement 2. You can now include a custom message to get sent along with your alert.
RescueTime alerts are often a way of sending myself a message in the future. Present Robby who’s thinking about how much time he’d ideally like to devote to certain things wants to send Future Robby a note either congratulating or chastising him when he crosses a certain threshold. The problem was, I couldn’t actually include any sentiment with that alert, just a dry status message “You have spent more than 2 hours on distracting activities today”. Now, I can customize the alert to say whatever I want, which allows me to get creative with it. Here are couple examples:
After 2 hours of distracting time:
After 10 hours total on the computer:
And here’s an alert our CEO uses to manage a shoulder injury he’s working through:
Improvement 3: You can automatically start a FocusTime session after an alert is triggered.
One problem I always had with alerts is I felt they were only half-useful when I was trying to nudge myself into changing my behavior. Sure, getting a reminder where my time is going is helpful, but sometimes I wanted something more. We combined our alerts with FocusTime, our site blocking feature to make the alerts a little more meaningful. Now, I can not only say “let me know when I’ve been getting too distracted”, I can also turn off distracting websites for a period of time as well.
I’ve found an interesting productivity hack for this one. When I first get to work in the mornings, I have a bad habit of making the rounds of Reddit, Twitter, Hacker News, etc… before I settle down onto something more serious. I wanted to see if I could improve how I started my day, so I set up an alert to block distracting websites for 30 minutes after 0.01 hours of time is logged each day. This effectively says “no distracting websites for the first half hour that I’m at the computer”. This is usually enough time for me to sink into something more productive, which sets the tone for my day. I’ve been doing this one for a couple weeks now (weekdays only), and it’s working pretty well.
Improvement 4: Goals now have alert functionality built in.
In the old version of RescueTime, goals and alerts were completely separate. Goals were for keeping track of metrics over time, and alerts were more transient. This always seemed cumbersome to me. The new version still has the ability to create goals and alerts separately, but I can choose to get alerts directly from a goal if I like. This saves me the extra step of creating the alert (and editing it if I ever need to change my goal).
Creating a new goal with notifications built in
These improvements have really changed the way I interact with goals and alerts in RescueTime, and opened up a whole bunch of new possibilities. I hope you like these new capabilities as much as I do!
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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- All reports have a “changes over time” view that gives a historic perspective on how you are spending your time.
- You can share the results of a report by email or Twitter
- You can get notifications when you exceed a goal line via email or pop-up.
- 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
- 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”)
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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.
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!
(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:
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.
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.
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.
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.