faq

What is RescueTime?

RescueTime is a tool that allows you to easily understand and optimize how you and your team spends their time and attention. One of the most important things about RescueTime is that there is NO DATA ENTRY. You install a small application on the computers at your company and we magically track what software and which web sites are actively being used. For more info, check out the product tour.

Why should a business choose to use RescueTime?

How your business spends time (and how that changes over time) is critical business intelligence-- it's that simple. Everyone's #1 job as a knowledge worker is to look busy. When teams get bigger than a few people, a managers loses the ability to understand who is engaged and busy. And, as variables in the workplace change (from office layout, team composition, team size, and more), it's really hard to measure changes in productivity over time. For businesses that choose to use RescueTime "in the open", it creates an unrivaled culture of workplace transparency by eliminating much the posturing, deception, and resentment that tends to be common in the modern office. Learn more on our benefits page.

Is how someone spends their time really a good measure of productivity?

It's a good measure, but not a perfect measure. We all know team members who are able to get more done in less time (though we suspect that the majority of people incorrectly think that they are "above average" in terms of their workplace efficiency). How you choose to spend your time strongly correlates with workplace productivity, especially when examined over longer periods of time. Additionally, RescueTime is a great measure of engagement and workload. Many people who have sub-par time management in RescueTime are really just disengaged or undertasked.

How does RescueTime work?

You install a tiny application on the computers at your office that measures which application or web site is actively being used. This data is pushed to our database for processing. Because we process data "in the cloud", you can be up and running instantly without needing to set up your own servers and databases.

How much data does RescueTime collect? I'm a little worried about this.

RescueTime collects the following pieces of information by default: application name, web site URL (if the app is a browser), start time, end time, OS username, and computer name. You can choose to limit what RescueTime collects by turning off window title collection, and turning off full URL collection (example.com vs. example.com/morewords). You can also elect to enable our whitelist functionality, which allows you to track ONLY web sites that you want to track-- all other web usage is sent to us with no URL information.

How does RescueTime handle when a lot of different applications and browser tabs open at any given time?

RescueTime doesn't really care which applications are open, but rather pays attention to which application or site is currently "in focus". In other words, we're measuring what you are paying attention to, not what you have open. If an employee stops using their machine, RescueTime stops tracking.

How accurate is RescueTime?

We like to say that RescueTime is about 99% accurate. Because of idle detection, RescueTime can sometimes over-report by a few seconds here and there. We're constantly working to improve accuracy.

What about if a team or employee uses multiple computers/platforms? Is RescueTime Mac-friendly?

RescueTime works great for Mac and PC. If an employee has multiple computers, that's just fine (as long as they aren't using them at the EXACT same instant).

Can RescueTime be installed on someone's machine without them knowing about it?

RescueTime allows for restricted installs on employee machines. It's not hidden, and a savvy user could force the program to quit. We believe that high-end teams with a high level of trust will realize dramatic benefits from deploying RescueTime "in the open". Note that while over 80% of companies that monitor employee behavior disclose that we do so. We strongly suggest using RescueTime AFTER a discussion with your team.

Isn't this a little "big brother"?

RescueTime can be used in a few different ways. In Restricted Mode, RescueTime is a business intelligence tool which keeps managers informed about their most critical resource. We don't feel that this is inherently immoral - a business has the right to ask how an employee spends their "on the clock" time (and are entitled to an honest and correct answer!). It's exactly like a timesheet except that it's accurate, objective, and it's a heck of a lot less work! When deployed in "Open Mode", employees can see their own data and how their compare to their average peer. For total transparency, you can choose to allow employees to see anyone's data. Many business teams don't have a high enough level of trust for this level of transparency. For those that do, there are dramatic benefits.

Do RescueTime users have to install an application on their computer?

Yes. That's the only way we could allow users to track their time without having to manually enter it. We've found that manual time management logs don't work very well (especially if you're busy). The installable portion of RescueTime is extremely small and lightweight and is easy to uninstall should you choose to do so.

Why is this a web application? Can we install RescueTime inside our firewall?

We're strong believers that software-as-a-service offers many advantages for our company as well as our customers. Here are just a few benefits of RescueTime being "in the cloud":

  • The installable portion of RescueTime can be tiny and have zero impact on each computer's performance. All of the heavy lifting is done in our database on our servers.
  • Setup is virtually instant. With our competition, you'd need to set up application servers, database servers, backup plans, and more. With RescueTime, you can be up and running in a few minutes.
  • We can continue to improve the application at a rapid rate rather than releasing software updates to everyone's machines whenever we want to add a feature.
  • Data storage inside corporate firewalls is expensive and time consuming. While your data is yours, we take the burden of storing it and backing it up so you can get on with the critical tasks of running your business.
  • For diverse networks or distributed teams, it just works.
  • It's more secure. Studies show that most security breaches are due to malicious/negligent employees. Data on our servers is encrypted and secured to the highest standards. Want more information about our data security practices? Read our Data Security White Paper.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to drop us a line

Proudly available for Mac & Windows