Introducing Timesheets AI

You are more than one thing. You contain multitudes. You tackle a lot of different things during your day.

Different projects and considerations. Maybe multiple jobs. Multiple side gigs.

Even under the umbrella of one job, you probably have several projects requiring different amounts of work and attention. And when you’re reviewing your day, you’d probably want a guaranteed way to know that ten of those twelve hours spent using Canva were for your “Super Important Project A” instead of your “Impractical Elective Side Project B.” You’d probably want the ability to clearly explain as much to your boss.

And until now, no matter how fantastic and smart your activity tracking software was, you still would only be able to review your data in massive, less helpful, no-context chunks.

4 hours on Slack. Okay? Were you having a complex conversation with your staff solving an issue, or just posting memes in the #random channel?

3 hours on Microsoft Word. Working on your fantasy novel, or typing up those all-important projections for the next fiscal quarter?

In those dark times, you had to just dive in and parse through your data by yourself, manually.

We here at RescueTime are pleased to announce—those days are finally over.

Timesheets are a big deal to a lot of people

When we were considering what the next project here at RescueTime should be, one thing kept bubbling to the surface—from user reports, feature requests (we read every single one), and anecdotes from our colleagues across the world: timesheets. Timesheets, timesheets, timesheets.

I had no idea how much timesheets were a thing in, apparently, countless offices in industries across America. Countless accounting departments designed around the concept; countless company structures that bottleneck the payment process at one pain point: filling out a way-too-detailed report of everything you do at work, every single day.

One simple Google Image search reveals a mountain of well-intentioned, cute-but-cringey little notices drawn up by product managers and supervisors across America.

You can picture them attached to emails from those managers, alongside subject lines that walk the line between nagging and begging. And you can also picture the frustrated workers, after wrapping up a full 8-12 hour day at work, not exactly thrilled at the prospect of adding additional un-billable time to that day.

To some they’re a massive pain. To others, an annoyance. To everyone, something they’d rather not do. Something that, if you really drill down into the logic behind the exercise, you shouldn’t have to do. Now, you basically won’t have to.

An exciting new product

We’ve also heard reports directly from users like you—hundreds of you—who, freelance or otherwise, work on a lot of different projects at once. And the one thing we heard over and over was how frustrating it was to have to sit down at the end of a day and fill out timesheets, or otherwise chop up your RescueTime data to match the variance of your day.

Some reported spending hours every single week, just reviewing their data and correcting their timesheets.

Those of us who work on multiple projects need to track progress on multiple projects, on a weekly or daily basis. Often we need to report that progress to various Important People at various points during the process. And it’s super important. Those Important People can choose to change the direction of a project, or the timing of your payment, based on that progress.

But, like everything else, the burden of collecting that data seems to fall entirely on you; to come up with your own clever way to track your time. One person described how he had a complex system of multiple kitchen timers he would wind up at different intervals.

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That didn’t feel right to us. There had to be a better way.

So, after a few months in development, enter Timesheets AI (beta), a new feature from the team at RescueTime. (It’s so new it’s still in beta!)

Timesheets AI aims to be your one and only software needed for time tracking, timesheet designing, and workflow optimization. If we do our job right, it should accomplish all the same things you were slaving over raw Excel data to accomplish—in less time, with less fuss, and hopefully with more fun.

Timesheets AI (beta) is a brand new feature in our multi-platform app RescueTime, the most powerful and accurate time tracking software on the market today.

Throughout your day, RescueTime runs in the background on your devices, logging your work activity and labeling it by application and category (including the apps and websites you visit). Timesheets AI then takes that data and fits it cleanly into a daily timeline: associating blocks of time with projects you’ve created, sorting data sets into the right areas, and presenting it all in a nice daily timeline for you to review. Then you can use that timeline highlight to seamlessly (and most importantly, quickly) fill out any kind of timesheet from an employer or client.

Try it out


The process of diving into Timesheets AI (beta) is simple. All you need is a RescueTime Premium account. Sign up here and download and install the application. Once you enter some basic information and allow it some basic permissions, it will run in the background and helpfully track your activity on your desktop.

If you already have a RescueTime account, it’s even easier. Just leave RescueTime running in the background, like you normally do.

Then, in your web browser, go to your Timesheets AI webpage and use the “New Project” button to begin adding projects. When you create a project, you’ll be asked to give the program hints to make sure your time is allocated correctly. Hints are things like file names, keywords, and apps used for a particular project. The constellation of helpful information and intelligent data sorting will then come into focus.

From there, you just let Timesheets AI run in the background until you’re done with your day. Then, you can click in and look over its handiwork, and adjust as needed.

The AI elephant in the room


AI is a controversial topic. And we hear you: concerns over disappearing jobs and dying culture, while perhaps overblown, are valid. And people are passionate about the topic. A previous article we wrote about the topic sent some spirited replies to our inboxes. And make no mistake—those are conversations worth having.

But in the meantime, we found a way to make the robots handle your least favorite, stupid, time-consuming busy work? Yeah. I’m cool letting the robots handle that.

So yes, this product uses AI. But we believe the way that we’re applying it is purely benevolent and helpful—nothing but upsides. No Hal 9000 vibes here.

(And if you like the idea of this product but are still feeling queasy about AI, you can control the program’s use of AI with a helpful toggle.)

How it works (the magic)

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On the Timesheets AI webpage, you’ll see your timeline highlights—these include the documents and websites that were most important to what you were doing at that time. Other highlights are captured from your connected Google or Outlook calendar (like scheduled meetings or scheduled Focus Sessions), updates made to your integration tasks (like Asana, Trello, or GitHub), or the focus task you entered at the start of a Focus Session.

The timeline highlights give you a general context for what you were working on and then you set and confirm the boundaries.

Based on the hints you added when creating your projects, the AI will offer suggestions for which projects it thinks you were working on at various points throughout the day. This allows you to easily review the suggestions and either accept them or make adjustments as necessary.

In addition to the AI suggestions, the simple interface allows you to easily drag, drop, and slide projects on your timeline. Reviewing the suggestions on your timeline ensures an accurate and complete timesheet.

Review your data in beautiful ways, and export that data to a CSV or Excel file.

All your projects, whenever you need them


When we multi-project users find true flow in our work, it becomes a sort of gorgeous free-fluid dance as we walk through our day. Our brain finds relational little moments where our attention is most ideally spent.

Dropping in on something when a thought comes into our brain, then leaving again to give focus to something that needs our full attention. Or knowing, instinctually, when it’s the best time to drop out, give the brain a rest, and do some simpler data-entry-type work. But here’s the thing. Those decisions are made instinctually. It’s entirely possible that the “take a breather doing data entry” part of your day can be four hours or twenty minutes.

These can even be difficult things to represent for the current rudimentary time tracking softwares that are out there.

And there are few possible scenarios more nightmarish than having to wrestle with one of those things while you’re in flow. Having to drag over the little cursor to make the box that represents “time spent in spreadsheet A” the correct size, and then you drag it too far and the whole sheet gets screwed up, the command-Z “undo” shortcut isn’t working, you get frustrated—is any of this what you’re meant to be spending your time doing? Is this why they hired you? Absolutely not.

You’d be forgiven for not wanting to engage your app switcher or your computer’s dock when you’re in flow. Because yeah, the notepad app is sitting right there, but amidst a sea of distractions and games and web browsers that could derail your day.

What’s the number one way to cut off that flow before it even starts? Pulling yourself out of rhythm to write down “1:15 PM: started Project B” on a notepad.

That’s not what our brains are for. That’s not what the force of your talents should be applied to, even for a second, or even at the sacrifice of even five minutes of productive time.

All of this might sound overdramatic, but for something as obviously fickle as productivity can be, we don’t want to leave anything to chance. Especially when we can help it. If you get distracted at the wrong time, you can be lost for hours. We’re in the business, ultimately, of optimizing your work life within an inch of perfection—we see that as perfectly achievable.

Ideally, society and our corporate workflows will find better solutions for this timesheet process—maybe de-emphasize the need for them in day-to-day work. But in the meantime, we’re confident in this as a solution.

Let it take over

You might have to let go of some familiar habits as Timesheets AI (beta) works its magic.

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That instinct to open your timesheet and add a new entry whenever you switch between projects. The itch to constantly fiddle with it—the formatting, the labeling—just to make sure you don’t forget something, or maybe to procrastinate. For those of you who have spent years doing this in analog, or in a more rudimentary piece of software, it might take a while for it to sink in: you don’t have to do any of that anymore.

A lot of that relief actually relies upon you doing one single thing in your mind. It’s something that might feel foreign at first, but that we actually do fairly constantly. It’s called trusting technology.

Trusting RescueTime to not miss a minute of time tracking—valuable time, especially for those of you with billable hours. Trusting Timesheets AI to list things under the right projects, the right sub-headers, and even choose the right color.

Don’t worry about that. Of course, this project is still in beta and there are still improvements to be made,  but we’re only hearing glowing praise: users that have tested it so far have been stunned by the ease of use, the accuracy of the data, and the general feeling of having one less thing to worry about. What more could you want?

New discoveries with the data

Now, the fun part: you can start to see if you’re working as effectively as you thought you were. You’ll finally be able to see if all five of those hours in Excel were worth it—if you received an appropriate amount of results for all that time spent. And if the answer is no, you know the first place you’ll want to look for insight into what needs to change: Timesheets AI, the very place that created and arranged the data in the first place.

Curious? Check it out yourself with a quick demo.

Please enjoy using Timesheets AI. We’re really proud of it. And tell us what you think! Your feedback will be invaluable as we move from Beta to Version 1.0 and beyond.

Robin Copple

Robin Copple is a writer and editor from Los Angeles, California.

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