We’re excited to welcome Belle B. Cooper to the RescueTime crew. She’ll be joining us part-time as a content marketer and copywriter. You’ll be seeing her around the blog and she’ll be helping us generally improve the conversations we have with the RescueTime community.
If Belle’s name sounds familiar, it’s because she’s done some really awesome things. She’s been published all over the place, and has written a ton about productivity, freelancing, and thriving in the modern workplace. She’s also one half of Hello Code, a startup that, among other things, makes an awesome Quantified Self app called Exist that finds correlations between the data in all your fitness and productivity apps. (hint hint, check out the Exist integration with RescueTime 😉).
We’ve been big fans of Belle’s writing for a while. In fact, as I was writing up the job description for this position, her name kept popping into my head as someone who would be a perfect fit. I reached out to her thinking there probably wasn’t much chance she’d be available, but might be able to refer someone. Turns out, the timing was just right, and we’re so happy to have her officially on board!
This is also a small milestone for us as a company, as Belle is the first person from outside the United States to join the team. Organizationally, it will be fun to figure out how that works. I’m really looking forward to learning how to work effectively across a 17-hour time difference. 😀
The RescueTime app on Zapier helps you connect your time to hundreds of applications, letting you make updates in other apps based on your time and logging important actions that happen outside of RescueTime. We recently added some new features that we’re really psyched about: offline time logging, actions and weekly report exporting.
If you’re unfamiliar with Zapier, it’s a service that makes it easy for non-developers to connect two (or more) different web applications together. It’s a great way to automate tedious parts of your work so you can focus on other things. You create Zaps, small workflows that chain two or more applications together to accomplish a task. It’s one of the tools we get the most mileage out of around the RescueTime offices. It’s a fantastic Swiss-army knife of a tool that just seems to get better the more I use it. Every week or so I stumble on something really valuable to automate.
Here’s how RescueTime works with Zapier
You can log offline time
You can connect any other app that exports events with a start / stop time – such as your calendar – and automatically log that time in RescueTime. Lots of people have requested this feature and we’re really thrilled with the number of services that Zapier makes this possible with. You can track workouts with RunKeeper or MapMyFitness, meetings with Google Calendar, or import time logged with Harvest or Toggl.
One thing to keep in mind: Calendars can be tricky, noisy messes, and if you aren’t careful, you can accidentally log inaccurate or useless time. Zapier’s advanced filters really shine here, though. You can use them to weed out the noise from your calendar and only log the activities you really want.
You can export weekly & daily summaries
Every week, a new summary is available with details about how you spent your time. You can use these summaries to construct your own custom email reports, log a note in Evernote, update a spreadsheet, or post a status to Slack or HipChat.
The logic you can add within a Zap comes in handy here. You can get really fancy with it if you want. For example: If a weekly summary comes in, you can check it to see how much productive time you logged, and if it’s an absurdly high number, you can post a message in Slack bragging about it, but silently do nothing if your time that week was less flattering. 🙂
Other apps can respond to your RescueTime alerts
RescueTime alerts keep you informed in real-time about how your day is shaping up. They can also trigger actions in other apps. You can brag to your co-workers on Slack when you’ve been super-productive (or to your friends on Facebook, for that matter), track your alert times in a Google Sheet, or update a goal on Beeminder. My personal favorite is the Zap I have that calls my phone when I’m working too late at night and tells me to knock it off.
You can automate your FocusTime sessions
Sometimes, really important stuff happens in other apps that you need to respond to with your full attention. Or there are times you just want to focus and not be disturbed. FocusTime and Zapier are your best friends in those moments. When Pingdom alerts you that your website is down, you can automatically start FocusTime so you won’t be distracted while looking for a fix. If you use Toggl for time tracking, you can automatically start FocusTime whenever you start a new timer so you can devote 100% of your concentration to getting the job done.
You can log data points from other apps as Actions
Actions in RescueTime are a new-ish feature*. They automatically collect data points from other applications so you can see what you’re accomplishing alongside the time you’re spending on different activities. Any trigger from another app can automatically log an action in RescueTime. You can log actions for blog posts in WordPress, completed cards in Trello, tasks completed in Todoist or Asana, or even checkins at coffee shops in Swarm.
*actions used to be a subset of Daily Highlights, but they’ve been upgraded and can now be categorized and scored just like time logs. You can still use Zapier to log daily highlights as well.
For more ideas on how to use the RescueTime integration, check out some of the popular RescueTime Zaps on Zapier.
We just made some exciting new updates to the RescueTime IFTTT channel. You can now use weekly summary reports in your Recipes and log offline time from other apps (like your Google Calendar).
IFTTT is a service that connects hundreds of applications via simple connections that let one application respond to actions in another. You can use the RescueTime IFTTT channel to connect to hundreds of apps to automatically log time, export data for reports, respond to alerts, and add daily highlights. You can even use it to control your FocusTime sessions!
Here are some of the things you can do:
Log Offline Time
This is something a lot of people have asked for. You can connect your Calendar (or any other app that exports events with a start / stop time) and automatically log offline time.
Export Weekly / Daily Summaries
Every day at midnight a new summary is available with details of your time. Use this to construct your own custom email reports, log time in a spreadsheet, or update a personal dashboard.
FocusTime just got a LOT more powerful. Mute your phone, or post a do-not-disturb note on your calendar. You can also control FocusTime from other apps. Like starting a FocusTime session when you park your car at the office in the morning.
Respond to Alerts
Whenever your RescueTime alerts are triggered, you can respond by taking an action in another app.
Log Daily Highlights / Action Datapoints
Daily Highlights and Actions help you keep track of your accomplishments. Any trigger from another app can automatically log a highlight or action in RescueTime.
Check out the RescueTime channel page on IFTTT.com to learn more. There are literally thousands of possibilities. Please let us know your favorites in the comments!
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!
Today we’re launching an exciting new version of FocusTime to help people be less distracted at work.
We’ve added integrations that let your apps and devices take actions that support a positive work environment. This makes it easy to create the best conditions for focus, on demand and at the right times.
For example, when you are in a FocusTime session, you can:
- Silence your phone, including notifications
- Set your Slack presence to ‘away’
- Post a do-not-disturb note to your calendar, group chat, or company social network
- Block access to distracting websites
Everyone’s work situation is different so we’ve added integrations that connect to a lot of different services so you can find the right combination of actions that works for you.
New integrations that support your productivity
IFTTT connects hundreds of apps and devices together. Combined with FocusTime, it can do some REALLY interesting things to set up a good environment for sustained focus. Their support for devices and home automation is particularly interesting, enabling things like silencing your Android phone, dimming your Philips Hue lights, even adjusting your Nest thermostat so you’re more comfortable while you’re focusing (which can be a nice bit of motivation on it’s own!)
I have an ORBneXt light sitting on my desk that glows blue when I’m in a FocusTime session. It’s a nice way to let other people know I’m in the zone, and it’s also a subtle reminder to me to stay on track.
Zapier is similar to IFTTT in that they both connect multiple services together, but Zapier has more of a focus on business applications. If you want to post a do-not-disturb note to your coworkers, Zapier has support for Slack, HipChat, Flowdock, Basecamp, Yammer, and many more.
I have a Zap set up connecting Trello and FocusTime that’s proven to be really useful for me. I manage the things I’m working on in Trello, but I have a special list for really high-priority tasks that are “On Fire!”, like critical bugs. Whenever a new card gets added to that list, a FocusTime session automatically kicks in so I can devote my full attention to the problem.
Seems like Slack is a common fixture in most offices these days. It’s really great at keeping people connected, but it can be a bit of a monster when you’re trying to focus. We added a Slack integration that will automatically set your presence to ‘away’ and optionally post a note in the channel of your choice letting people know you’re stepping away for some concentration, and when to expect you back.
Are work distractions really that big of a problem?
Multiple studies have shown that it can take between 15-30 minutes to fully return to a task after an interruption (that’s not counting tasks that are completely abandoned). The problem with even the most optimistic of those numbers is, most people get some kind of interruption roughly every 5 minutes This is a huge deal, because it basically means no one can get into a solid state of flow.
So essentially no one is working at their peak potential. Why aren’t more people up in arms about this? I’m not sure, but I think it’s because after a while, that level of distraction starts to feel normal. And the alternative – simply unplugging – doesn’t feel very good. We’re conditioned to be ultra-responsive, and that’s become a general expectation in many offices. But the levels of interruption are clearly reaching unsustainable levels.
We’re connected to all these apps and devices that constantly spew information at us, but they have no awareness of whether or not we actually WANT that information at a given time. That seems like something that should be fixable, so that’s what we set out to do. My hope with FocusTime is that we give people a way to disconnect “just enough” so they can get back to more solid levels of focus.
What we’re launching today is a really good start, but there’s a lot to explore in the future, and I’m really excited to see what other ways we can find to turn down the noise, and get people prepped for focus.
I’d love it if you’d give the new integrations a try and let us know what works well for you, and what you find missing that you wished was included.
Today we’re launching a new integration with Automatic that will make it possible to track your driving time just like you would any other application or website. There are SO many interesting questions that can be answered here, like: “How does your commute relate to your time at work?”, “Do you tend to log most time in the car around rush hour?”, “If so, does shifting your time one way or the other help you spend less time in traffic?”
What is Automatic?
Automatic is a mobile app and small adapter that works by plugging into your car’s diagnostic port. It fits on nearly all newer cars and gives you information about gas milage, check engine notifications, and your driving efficiency. Read more about how it works over on the Automatic web site.
How Automatic works with RescueTime
After setting up Automatic and connecting it to your RescueTime account, all future trips will be logged in RescueTime as “Driving”. These will fit into your existing RescueTime reports just like any other application or website, and you can categorize them however you like. You will also unlock a special driving report that will give you details about when you drive, how it relates to the other time you log, and what other activities you might be logging while you are driving (be careful out there!).
Some of the things you can do with this integration:
- See the overall amount of time you spend driving per day, week, or month.
- Set an alert letting you know when you’ve been in a car for more than 2 hours in a day (reminding you to go for a walk to balance things out)
- See how much time you spend working vs. driving to work.
- See how much time you spend driving compared to other categories of activity. How do you feel about the balance?
- See activities that are logged while you are driving. If you have the RescueTime Android app installed, this will give you a valuable look into how distracted you may be while driving.
- If you are a RescueTime premium subscriber, you can categorize your individual trips, allowing you to separate out your commute from the rest of your driving time, for example.
For a real-world example, check out this post about some of the unsettling things I learned about my own driving and phone use habits.
How to link your accounts
Once you have Automatic set up in your car, visit our integration page and link your account. You can unlink it at any time if you decide you want to stop logging your driving time.
If you don’t currently have an Automatic car adapter, you can get one for a 20% discount here.
We’re really excited to open up this new data stream into our reports, and can’t wait to see what insights it generates. I hope you enjoy it! Please let us know what you think!
We’re launching some new integrations this week, giving you new ways to keep track of your time and tell interesting stories with your data.
Log highlights for your code commits directly through GitHub
Several weeks ago, we launched support for logging your code commits from your Git projects. It’s been pretty popular, and we’ve logged thousands of commit messages since launching the feature. We did, however, get some feedback that the setup could be simplified. Today we’re launching an alternative way to log commits for your projects that are hosted on GitHub. Instead of configuring and installing a post-commit hook, you can just connect your RescueTime account to GitHub and select the projects you would like to track. From then on, whenever you push code to GitHub for those projects, all your commit messages will be logged.
The original post-commit hook method is still available, and should be used for projects that are not hosted on GitHub, or for projects that you do not have admin rights on the repository.
Use Gryroscope to see beautiful reports for all your different data streams
Gryroscope is a new lifelogging aggregator that combines several streams of data into beautiful reports. Combine your Tweets, Foursquare checkins, Fitness trackers, and RescueTime productivity data. Each week you’ll get a gorgeous infographic report summarizing all your activities.
More integrations coming soon
We’re working on some more integrations and hope to have new things to share soon. Keep checking back on our integrations page for the latest and greatest.
Do you have any other services you’d like to see RescueTime work more closely with? If so let us know in the comments.