Introducing the new RescueTime for Slack Integration: Automatically update your status and block unintended interruptions

Like many other remote (and co-located) companies, the RescueTime team lives in Slack. It’s our water cooler, conference room, and place to share personal updates.

Slack loves to say they’re “where work happens.” Unfortunately, that statement is truer than they want it to be.

Along with all its great features—facilitating conversation, communication, and collaboration—Slack has a few bad ones as well.

For remote teams especially, it’s hard to create a sense of “togetherness” during the workday. Without being able to see what your coworkers are doing, it’s easy to interrupt them or knock them out of a state of flow with a simple request.

While some people might say you should have control over how distracted you are by notifications, we think it’s equally as important to have a culture of clear communication and trust.

With the new RescueTime for Slack integration, we’ve created a way for Slack teams to get more visibility into what their coworkers are focused on and give you more ways to protect your focus and attention, no matter where you’re working from.

Before we dive in: Slack integrations might need to be approved by your workspace admin before they can be installed. Find out more about adding the RescueTime for Slack integration into your Slack workspace.

Automatically update your status when you’re focused on specific tasks

The first thing we wanted to do when re-imagining RescueTime for Slack was to make your current focus more visible to coworkers. (Like when you’re working together in a shared space.)

The RescueTime for Slack integration automatically updates your status when it sees that you’re focused on a certain activity (as well as display it in the text box of your private messages).

Of course, you don’t want your teammates to know everything you’re working on. That’s why we included the function to only broadcast certain activities or even toggle all status updates on and off.

RescueTime for Slack integration - Status updating

Important: RescueTime will only update your Slack status during Work Hours (so you don’t have to worry about teammates seeing you binge watch Netflix when you’re at home!)

Customize your Slack statuses for different activities (plus emoji!)

Slack statuses do a good job of telling people what you’re working on, but they can be pretty dry. With our new integration, you can set custom Slack statuses (and emoji!) for different activities.

For example, you can tell people you’re “drowning in your inbox” when you’re focused on email, or “data crunching” when you’re working in specific apps.

You can even set custom emoji to be displayed along with your status.

Trigger Do-Not-Disturb mode when you’re focused on your most important work

There’s nothing worse than getting distracted just as you’re focusing on important work or getting into a state of flow. With our new integration, you can automatically enable Do-Not-Disturb mode when you’re getting into flow on important work.

Here’s an example. Let’s say your most important work is writing. When the RescueTime for Slack integration sees that you’re focused on a writing app, it can automatically trigger DND mode in Slack for the remainder of the time you’re focused.

RescueTime for Slack integration - toggle DND

This gives you the chance to truly focus and get into a state of flow without worrying about a teammate accidentally interrupting you.

We like to think of it as the difference between working in an open office and having the corner suite. Both give you the opportunity to engage and communicate with your team. But one also gives you the choice to focus when you need to.

Block Slack notifications when you start a FocusTime session

FocusTime blocks distracting websites for a set period of time when you need to focus. But websites aren’t the only things you want to block when you’re trying to focus.

With the new integration, you can tell RescueTime to set your Slack status to Away whenever you go into a FocusTime session.

RescueTime for Slack integration - FocusTime

FocusTime and the Slack integration require a RescueTime Premium account. Don’t have one? Try RescueTime Premium for free for 14 days.

Build team connection (and fight interruptions) by showing teammates what you’re working on

While we wrote an entire guide on How to Set Up Slack for Focus, your settings can’t change your team’s culture. When you can’t see what other people are working on, it’s easy to ignore how disruptive even a short message can be.

However, as the RescueTime team started using this integration, we started to change our approach to communication. Instead of just sending messages, we became more conscientious of others’ attention.

“I automatically check someone’s status now before sending them a message to make sure I’m not interrupting focused time with a request or question I could make later.” – Irene Phelps, Customer Success

Not only this, but we noticed how much more we felt like we could “see” what others were working on.

There’s a guilt that comes from working remotely. We feel the need to “perform” by chiming in on conversations or being online for long hours. (The New York Times calls this “performative workaholism”). But that guilt disappeared after a few days of broadcasting our activities in Slack.

Instead, we felt more together and connected, even if we were thousands of miles apart.

Take your Slack workspace from an open plan to a corner office

Slack has been an incredible tool for us at RescueTime. But like every communication tool out there, it has its flaws. With our new integration, we’re helping make Slack a bit more like the best workplaces in the world–transparent, inclusive, and respectful of your time and focus.

Give it a try and let us know what you think in the comments below.

RescueTime for Slack requires a Premium account. Don’t have one? Sign up for a 14-day free trial today.

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Jory MacKay

Jory MacKay is a writer, content marketer, and editor of the RescueTime blog.

6 comments

  1. Is there an option to turn on system wide Do Not Disturb mode (in Windows, MacOS)? If not is it possible or are there any plans to add it?

    1. Just talked to our product team and it’s definitely something we’ve explored. Unfortunately, it seems pretty much impossible on Windows but could potentially be a feature in MacOS. Nothing in the pipeline at the moment but we’ll keep you updated!

    1. Hey Evan. If you’ve set up a custom status on the integration page, it should update automatically once RescueTime sees that you’re “focused” on that activity. A couple notes: The Slack integration only works during your Work Hours and you need to make sure Status Updating is activated on the integration page. If you have any more questions feel free to email support@rescuetime.com or use the chat button on our homepage.

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