One of my main reasons for staring this discussion forum is to start some (hopefully not too lively) discussion about the new version of RescueTime we launched last year. If you want to read about the thinking behind it, you can read our launch post on Hacker News.
I should take a second here to say, if you’re new to RescueTime as of Summer 2021, you probably don’t really know much about “RescueTime Classic” - which is what we’re calling the version of RescueTime that we originally built to answer the question, “where does my time go?” Suffice to say that in 2020 when we stopped to look around at what was different in the world since we started, we felt like we really needed to update our product to match the times.
In 2008 data analytics and quantified self was a new and growing space. After all, you make what you measure, right? Data-driven choices produce optimal outcomes and all that. I’m proud of what we (and mostly the RescueTime team) built - but I also think we might have started to over-optimize in directions that weren’t as helpful as they could be. When we stopped to think about how we used RescueTime after years and years, we realized the lasting value was in helping us know when enough was enough. Productivity and efficiency scores are useful to a point, but once you understand where your time is going, how do you build healthy work habits that help you get what you want to get done in the most efficient way so you have more time for things you might rather be doing? The current version of RescueTime is built with this in mind.
So yes - we’ve moved away from productivity and analytics and toward wellness. We help you achieve focus, for the optimal amount of time to focus per day that makes sense for you, and what you do with that focus is up to you. The Assistant is designed to try to help you build good habits and let you know what’s realistic based on your work schedule and meetings and what’s a normal / acceptable amount of time to spend on personal things throughout the day. We’re making use of our 13 years of data about how people get their best work done to help keep you in focus zones and understand that it’s important to protect your downtime.
The RescueTime Focus Work goal is our 10,000 steps equivalent of what we think most people can reasonably achieve for maximum benefit. It’s designed so that when you hit your Focus Goal, you can feel good about stopping your work day, if you need to. If you fill your Focus Goal bar that means you’re in the tier of people that are the most optimally focused.
We’re building improvements to Focus Zones and Focus Sessions so you can track the tasks you’re working on and build good habits around getting things done. As a RescueTime user since 2007, I’m really excited about the new direction we’re going and I hope you are too. And for people who want more analytics - you can always check out our old dashboard and reports pages. But I think you’ll find that after a while, the only thing that really matters is “was I able to focus on the things I wanted to get done?” And that’s where we’re focusing our energy to help you the most.
Let me know what you think. I know there are a LOT of articles and posts out there about our Classic version. We still have more to build out in this new version but I think we’re on a better path. I hope you do, too.