About Focus Sessions

What you'll learn

The entire Focus Session experience is designed to put you in a better mindset for completing your most important tasks. The Focus Session experience includes a prelude to your Focus Sessions (prep + warmups), a redesigned block page, a post Focus Session summary, and the global state (more on this later). 

During a Focus Session RescueTime will block both distracting websites and desktop apps. 

Focus Session Prep + Warmup

Prior to a Focus Session, you'll have the option of guided preparation, and environment and body warmups to help. We recommend you try all three segments at least once, to experience everything that Focus Sessions have to offer. 

The Focus Prep menu displays three segments:

  • Focus Session prep 
  • Prep your environment warmup 
  • Prep your body warmup 

1. Focus Session Prep

Focus Session prep is an essential part of every Focus Session. You'll answer a few short questions to customize your Focus Session. 

Blocking Options

During Focus Session prep you'll be able to control your blocking level. There are three options.

  • No blocking: You don't want any desktop apps or websites blocked (activities you've categorized as Personal Activities on your Activities page) during a Focus Session
  • Block distracting sites and apps: You want only desktop apps and websites blocked during a Focus Session
  • Block distracting + communication apps and sites: You want desktop apps, websites, and any activities categorized as communication apps blocked during a Focus Session. 

Music Integration

If you want to listen to music during a Focus Session and have a Spotify Premium account, then you can choose a Spotify playlist (RescueTime or your own) during Focus Session prep. During a Focus Session, you can pause or play the music using the button on the music bar at the bottom of the Assistant.

To connect Spotify to RescueTime you will need to have a Spotify Premium account. You can connect your Spotify Premium account to RescueTime during Focus Session prep or in the Focus Settings page

From your Focus Session prep click the Listen on Spotify button >  Log into Spotify if you haven't already > Agree to some Spotify permissions to connect your Spotify to RescueTime > You should see your Spotify connection at the bottom of your Focus Settings page

You can also connect to Spotify directly from your Focus Settings page > click on the + add a music streaming service link > you'll be taken to the Spotify sign in page if you aren't already signed in > Agree to some Spotify permissions

Once connected your Spotify integration will look like this. 

To ensure that Spotify plays on your Assistant, you will need to be logged into your Spotify account. The Assistant remembers your last-used music settings, so when you start another Focus Session, it will begin with those music settings.

Please note: The Assistant only recognizes Spotify playlists that are listed under your Spotify profile. To add a playlist to your profile, open Spotify > find the playlist you would like to add > click on the ellipsis icon (three horizontal dots) > click Add to profile. Once it's added, you should see this playlist during Focus Session prep. Below is an example on the Spotify web player.

You can disable your Spotify integration from your Settings > Focus Settings page > under Music Integration click on the gear icon > Remove service

Other Music Integrations

If you don't have a Spotify Premium account, then you'll be prompted during Focus Session prep to Add focus mood music > you can connect to YouTube by clicking the  I don't have Spotify Premium button > then you can choose from the options below

Our plan is to integrate other music services in the near future. 

2. Prep your environment

During the  Prep your environment warmup, you will go through a series of screens with audio narration (optional) guiding you on how to prepare your environment before starting a Focus Session.

3. Prep your body

During the  Prep your body warmup you will go through a guided walkthrough (audio optional) physically preparing you before starting a Focus Session. 

Let's Focus

After your Focus Session prep and/or warmups, your Focus Session will begin. 

On Mac

During a Focus Session, the RescueTime icon on the menu bar turns into a countdown timer and completion bar. The bar fills as the timer counts down. Clicking on the timer will bring up the Assistant in a Focus Session state. 

End your Focus Session by clicking Cancel session or End session.

When you first begin a Focus Session, you'll see the Cancel session option at the top-right corner of the Assistant. Cancelled sessions do not count as Focus Sessions in your Focus Sessions report

After 5 minutes, you'll see the  End session option. Ended sessions count as Focus Sessions in your Focus Sessions report. 

This is a side by side view of the block page that is displayed in place of a distracting website, and the Assistant during a Focus Session.

On Windows

During a Focus Session, the RescueTime icon in your taskbar turns into a progress meter that fills as the Focus Session counts down. You can hover over the RescueTime icon in your taskbar to see the Assistant. In the example below, Windows 10 is used to display the Assistant in the taskbar and system tray during a Focus Session, as well as the block page blocking a desktop app.

You can access the Assistant from either the taskbar or the system tray.

Block Page during a Focus Session

During a Focus Session, when you visit a website or desktop app that is categorized as a Personal Activity on your Activities page, you will see a block page on your web browser. 

  • When visiting a blocked website, the block page will replace the website on your web browser
  • When visiting a blocked desktop app, the block page will open a new web browser window. Blocked desktop apps remain present behind the web browser block screen, but you will need to click on Continue to [name of app] button on the block page to access the app.

The information displayed on the block page coincides with the information displayed on your Assistant:

  • The task you entered as your focus during your Focus Session prep. There is an 85 character limit. Currently these tasks will not be recorded in your reports. This will change with upcoming updates. 
  • The Focus Session timer countdown along with when the session will end
  • The number of people also in a Focus Session. You can connect to RescueTime's Workfrom space by clicking the Join a digital workspace link on the block page or on your Assistant. Workfrom is a virtual cafe that allows you to work alongside other Focus Buddies on or off camera. 

You can choose to unblock a website (or desktop app) from the block page. Click Continue to [name of site or app] button. This will bring up the three options below.

  • No: the activity is unblocked forever and automatically added to Other Work on your Activities page
  • Yes: the activity is unblocked for the duration of your Focus Session
  • Nevermind! I want to stay focused!: the activity will continue to be blocked

If you choose to block communication apps during your Focus Session prep, and you go to an activity that you categorized as a communication app, then you'll see a block page.

The block page will display three options:

  • Unblock all communication this session: all activities categorized as a communication app will be unblocked during this Focus Session
  • Unblock site this session: only this communication app or website will be unblocked during this Focus Session
  • Nevermind! I want to stay focused!: the activity will continue to be blocked

PLEASE NOTE: Choosing this block level will result in ALL activities categorized as communication app to be blocked during a Focus Session even those scored or ranked as Focus Work.

Post Focus Session

At the end of the Focus Session, the Assistant will ask you a few questions, giving you the opportunity to reflect on the session.

Focus Session Report

At the end of your Focus Session you'll be provided with a Focus Session report showing you a brief summary of how you did. You can learn more by going to your reports on the RescueTime website.

The summary report breaks down your stats with the following information. 

  • Focus Session time against your daily Focus Work goal
  • Number of distractions RescueTime blocked during the session
  • Your Focus Session day streak which only includes your work schedule
  • Total number of Focus Buddies present in Workfrom during the session

Global State of a Focus Session

Focus Sessions run in the global state, meaning that when you start a Focus Session on your computer, you'll be in a Focus Session across all computers that are connected to your RescueTime account.

Please note there may be a delay of up to 1 minute for a Focus Session to run on the other devices. We will continue to optimize our systems to improve this delay. 

Still need help? Contact Us Contact Us