A day with RescueTime Premium

A day with RescueTime Premium

Here are some of the ways we use RescueTime Premium in a typical workday, helping us stay focused, and motivated. We hope they'll help you, too!

Header dashboard

8:12 am

Start the day with a thirty-minute FocusTime session as soon as I get to my computer.

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I used to have a big problem with getting started in the mornings. I’d roll into the office, plop down in front of my computer, then check out news / Twitter / etc… for "just a couple of minutes" before diving into the day’s work. That would often drag on longer than I meant for it to, and end up setting the tone for my whole day.

I no longer have that problem.

A nice reminder to start my day off correctly. :)

If I go to a distracting website during the first thirty minutes, it gets blocked until the focus session is over.

When I first show up in the morning (monday-friday), I get a good morning message and then a thirty-minute FocusTime session automatically kicks in. This disrupts my “check all the news” pattern and forces me into a productive start of my day. By the time the FocusTime session is over, I’m almost always engaged in something, so I’ve set myself up for success for the rest of the day.

9:58 am

Automatic prompt to log what I'm working on after one hour of productive time.

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We use RescueTime’s "daily highlights" logging to keep a record of what we actually accomplished throughout the day. When we have our status meetings every Tuesday and Thursday, we refer to our highlights so we remember what we did. I have a few alerts scattered throughout the day that prompt me to enter what I’ve been working on so I don’t miss anything.

The alert lets me know I've done an hour of productive work.

Highlights form automatically opens so I can quickly note what I've been getting done.

note: This can be easily adapted to work with any other web-based tool. Give it a try!

11:23 am

Notification after one hour on customer support

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Everyone here at RescueTime does customer support. It’s one of the best way for us to stay connected to customers, but it can also eat up my entire day if I’m not careful. I try to spend arount one hour each day on support. To let me know I’m hitting that target, I have an alert that let’s me know (along with a message not to get too carried away with it).

I can categorize all the support activities accross many different web sites and applications.

The alert keeps me honest with myself, and also tells me when I've reached the amount of time I'm aiming for.

A lot of our support work takes place on Twitter and Facebook. I use RescueTime Premium's document-level categorization to flag the support-specific pages correctly so all my time gets logged correctly.

Afternoon

Review my Daily Patterns report for email

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Email has a tendency to take up way more time than people realize. Studies have shown that the average desk worker spends around 28% of their time on email each day. One strategy to reduce the overall time in email is limiting it to one or two deliberate sessions each day. I use the "Daily Patterns" report to understand when I’m spending the most time in email, then make an effort to shift the time to the mid-morning, leaving the afternoons for more focused work.

3:05 pm

Three hours of productive time, log daily highlights

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I have my daily highlights alerts set to fire after three hours of productive time. That means it only asks me for input when I've actually been doing work, so I don't have to worry about them when I take the day off.

Seeing these throughout the day is a nice motivator. It's like I'm cheering myself on.

Using alerts this way has made my average daily productive time go up by about an hour.

3:26pm-4:11pm

Whiteboarding / sketching session

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When I’m working on a new feature, I often step away from the computer and spend a while sketching in a notebook or on a whiteboard. When I get back to my computer, I can easily enter that time with the RescueTime Offline Time prompt. That lets me keep track of all my work time, not just the time spent on the computer.

I can go back at the end of the day and enter all the time I was away from my computer.

Or, I can set my computer to automatically prompt me when it detects that I've been away for a while.

5:45 pm

Five hours of very productive work - Add a milestone in my personal iDoneThis calendar.

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We aim for about five solid hours of very productive work each day. I use this milestone for two different actions. First, I open the daily highlights form one last time to make sure I’ve logged everything. Second, I automatically log “worked five hours of productive time” on my personal iDoneThis calendar (that I use to keep track of more personal accomplishments). iDoneThis sends me an email reminder as well, but I’m terrible about responding to it since I try to stay out of my inbox. Basing the prompt on an alert works much better for me.

Five hours is the big milestone I attempt to hit each day.

I love iDoneThis for logging personal accomplishments, but I NEVER remember to use it without the RescueTime alert.

7:32 pm

My 7 hours productive time "SLOW DOWN!" alert.

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Some days I have a problem getting motivated. Other times I get downright obsessive. I’ve had some burnout issues in the past, so I have a few alerts to guard against working too long or too late so I can stay balanced.

After 7 hours of productive time, I give myself a congratulatory message, but also nudge myself to take a break by opening up one of my favorite sub-reddits.

Alerts like this help me stay balanced.

Taking a break to look at pictures of cute animals has been scientifically proven to improve productivity. Seriously, it has.

12:30 am

Guarding myself against excessive all-nighters!

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It’s fortunately a rare occurrence, but sometimes I’ll get so engrossed in my work that I’ll go really, really late. Every once and a while this is ok, but it’s not something I want becoming a habit. I deal with this using an alert that asks me why I’m working so late and if it’s really worth it. Additionally, this alert posts a message in our HipChat chatroom letting EVERYONE ELSE know I was up working in the middle of the night, so they can call me on it if it becomes too much of a regular thing.

If I see this alert, I better be doing something pretty important.

For some added punch, I set up a Zapier alert to call my phone and read the alert to me. Nothing like a phone call in the middle of the night to get your attention!

To keep myself accountable. I also log a note in our company chat room that I've been working late, so people can give me a hard time about it the next day. :)