How to automate RescueTime with Zapier and IFTTT

One of the best things about RescueTime is that it’s hands-off. After setting up your account and categorizing a few sites, you can let RescueTime run continually in the background, gathering data about how you spend your time without you needing to do anything.

To make your RescueTime data even richer, there are lots of ways you can connect RescueTime to other apps and services. After setting these connections up, you can go back to using your computer normally without thinking about RescueTime. But the resulting data about how you spend your time will be even more useful.

Here are some of our favorite ways to automate RescueTime.

Sign up for our newsletter to get our latest blog posts in your inbox every week.

Get focused

RescueTime is handy for helping you avoid distractions and focus on what matters. Automating this process makes it even easier.

Schedule FocusTime sessions on your calendar

If you rely heavily on your calendar for scheduling your time, it makes sense to set up FocusTime sessions based on your calendar.

Whether you want to schedule a FocusTime session every day when you start work, or at different times each week depending on how busy you are, you can use this IFTTT applet to create FocusTime sessions from your calendar:

IFTTT Recipe: Schedule FocusTime sessions in advance by marking off time on your calendar

Put a Do Not Disturb event on your calendar when a FocusTime session starts

If you use a calendar to signal when you’re available to your colleagues, you can automatically create a “Do not disturb” event on your calendar whenever you start a FocusTime session. So even if you don’t want to plan FocusTime sessions ahead of time, or use your calendar to schedule them, you can still use your calendar to communicate to your team when you’re unavailable.

IFTTT Recipe: Add a ‘do-not-disturb’ event to your calendar when a FocusTime session starts

Mute your phone when you start a FocusTime session

FocusTime sessions are great for helping you get in the zone. RescueTime’s FocusTime feature blocks sites you’ve deemed distracting, and helps you stay on task for a set period.

To make these sessions even more productive, you can automatically mute your Android phone whenever you start a FocusTime session with this IFTTT applet:

IFTTT Recipe: Mute phone when a FocusTime session is started

And you can set up this applet to turn off mute when your FocusTime session ends:

IFTTT Recipe: Unmute your phone when a FocusTime session finishes

Change your chat status when you start a FocusTime session

Many of us use real-time chat apps to stay in touch with our teammates these days. Doing so can mean your colleagues expect quick answers any time of the day. But you can automatically set your status to change in Slack or other team communication apps whenever your FocusTime session starts.

This Zapier Zap will change your status in Slack when you start a FocusTime session:

And this Zap will send a message to your team in Campfire to let them know you’re unavailable:

You can even use this Zap to reset your Slack status after your FocusTime session ends:

Sync FocusTime sessions with timers

Another great way to make it easier to start and stop your FocusTime sessions is to make them automatically start and stop based on other timers you already use.

If you track your billable time with Harvest, for instance, you can use this IFTTT applet to automatically start a FocusTime session whenever you start a Harvest timer:

IFTTT Recipe: Block distractions with FocusTime when you start a timer in Harvest

Or, if you’re a fan of the Pomodoro Technique, you can use this Zap to start a FocusTime session when you start a Pomodoro:

Keep track of how you spend your time

RescueTime is a great tool for helping you reflect on where your time goes. Automation can make it even easier to collect accurate data about how you spend your time.

Automatically create highlights in RescueTime from your calendar events

If you have a lot of meetings or work events, automatically logging those as highlights in RescueTime can give you a better overview of how you spent your time.

You can set up this IFTTT applet to automatically create a highlight in RescueTime for every meeting on your calendar. This way, when you review your RescueTime data, you won’t have to have your calendar handy to account for chunks of time away from the computer. All your meetings will be logged so you can get a quick overview of how you spent your time in one place.

IFTTT Recipe: Log a highlight event whenever you have a meeting

Track completed tasks as highlights in RescueTime

You might also want to create highlights based on tasks you complete each day. Lots of task management apps work with IFTTT and Zapier, so you can set up an automated process to log every completed task as a highlight in your RescueTime account.

When it’s time to reflect on how you’ve been spending your time, RescueTime will show you a list of completed tasks alongside a breakdown of the apps and websites you visited.

RescueTime highlights

Here are a few to-do apps you can connect to RescueTime to get you started. If your favorite isn’t listed, try looking for it in IFTTT or Zapier’s list of supported services.

Get a daily summary of how you spent your time

If you have trouble remembering to review your RescueTime data each day, you can set up an automated daily summary of how you spent your time. You can get this daily summary in almost any way you can think of, so pick whichever suits you best:

Track other types of work as highlights

Every minute of work doesn’t always match a to-do on our task list. For other types of work, you can also automatically create highlights to get an overview of how you’ve spent your time.

Try these suggestions for creating highlights in your RescueTime account:

With tools like IFTTT and Zapier you can automate nearly anything you can think of. Connecting RescueTime to your to-do list, your calendar, and your team chat room can help you get a better overview of how you spend your time and make it easier to stay focused.

What other ways have you automated RescueTime? Let us know in the comments.

Sign Up for the Newsletter

Want to learn more about spending your time well and doing more meaningful work? Get our latest blog posts in your inbox every week.

Belle B. Cooper

Belle is an iOS developer, writer, and co-founder of Melbourne-based software company Hello Code. She writes about productivity, lifehacks, and finding ways to do more meaningful work.