The New RescueTime (vs. RescueTime Classic)

Hello!

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.

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I was a RescueTime classic user several years ago and let my subscription lapse for the reason you point out - at some point, I knew how I was wasting time, but there were diminishing returns in terms of productivity as a function of that knowledge. (And lots of competing, cheaper ways to block distractions emerged). So I was happy to see the new approach in the new version!

However…the reason I signed back up was actually because I wanted to hit a goal of time spent working on a particular website. I was a bit bummed that this granularity was gone in the new version until I came across this post today and discovered that access to the “classic” dashboard is still supported. The combination of new and old here is ideal, and I hope you will continue to support both very useful dashboards!

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Welcome, Elaine!

I love seeing the different ways people make RescueTime work for them!

Just swapped to the new Rescuetime today (frankly, I didn’t realize this was a thing somehow?) and I love the emphasis on wellness, new design, etc!
I had a workflow set up with the old goals settings that aligned with my goal to be more productive in the mornings (2.5 hours of productive work between a custom time period I called ‘mid-morning’) - is there any way to set up similar goals and/or track within those custom time frames again?
Also, did/does switching to the new RescueTime affect the API? My workflow also used the API to mark on my calendar when productive goals were reached (e.g. 1 hour of productive time, 2.5 hours, 6 hours)

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I have this working in the new Rescuetime. I never used it in the old, so I can’t say if features are missing that were available previously. You could check in Settings>Calendar Integration and make sure your calendar is still linked.

I bought rescue time as a time management application not at a Wellness application. Especially now in the new era of working from home it’s important to track my productivity when my work day is often blended. While I set distinct focus times during the day I still like to track where my time went so I can continuously optimise my weekly schedule to ensure I get everything done that I need to get done. What is insightful from the old dashboard and reporting is how much unplanned work I’m often doing. I use these reports as a continuous feedback loop to constantly optimise my productivity and schedule.

The new reports page provides very little value for me. I derive my value from the product from the old reporting.

Given your post Brian, it sounds like I need to start looking for an alternative product. Best of luck in the future direction off rescue time.

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Thanks for the note, Charles. It’s possible to switch to the Classic version - the easiest way to do that is to reach out to support via help@rescuetime.com.

I just switched today so I haven’t had anything trigger yet, but good to know, thanks!

I’m really curious as to why there was no announcement to your existing Classic userbase. Or are you just waiting to make that announcement? I think I’m even subscribed to your email newsletter but basically only heard about the new RescueTime by accident.

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Hi Scott - That’s a great question. We’re intentionally waiting to announce it to existing users mostly because it’s a lot different than what they signed up for with Classic. We are planning on announcing it once we finishing up some features that make it slightly less different (more analytics tools) and some bigger improvements to Focus Sessions. But for now it’s different enough that we’re not sure everyone would like it better than the version they signed up for.

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Loving the new version so far :slight_smile: it feels more balanced and less punitive than classic RescueTime, and the assistant is helpful with letting me know what I can realistically do in a day.
One question - I tried out the “Join Workspace” button today, just out of curiosity. Does anyone else use the workspace? At the time it was only me. Does anyone else use this feature? It felt a little odd being in there, on video, by myself :laughing:
I liked the chillhop + ambience audio, but I am also curious what other functions the workspace might have.

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Hi Sam!
We just added that virtual room, and we’re rolling out new features that make more use of it. I’ve been in there with a few other folks and it seems like with every passing day new people show up. I don’t know about you, but when there are more people around working it inspires me to stay focused - which is why I like the feature. Hoping more people get that out of it as more people discover it. Question for you - do you think it would be more engaging/useful if there were more people in there with you?

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I definitely think it would be. If it’s just me, then it’s not really any different than using the chillhop channel on youtube. But if there are other people, even if they don’t know that I’m focusing or not, I’ll feel more accountable and more like I’m part of a community :slight_smile:

I love the new aesthetics but I’m also curious how the productivity/categories correlate between classic and new. Does changing the category in New change how they’re listed in Classic?

I have several websites that I would categorize differently if I was using Focused Work/Other Work/Personal vs. Productive/Neutral/Distracting + type category.