A few weekends ago, I decided to learn iOS widget building. I never imagined my first little widget would be such a productivity boost!
The problem with deep work is that when I surrender to it, hot coffee, meetings, weekends, space, and time cease to exist. Deep work, getting into Flow between meetings, is therefore risky business for me. Without something to pull me out, I'll likely be a no-show for my next, which is inexcusably rude.
I needed something visual, like traffic lights. An always-on, simple to read, states indicator that reassures me it's ok to stay deep for now.. without requiring a break in concentration.
Keep it simple stupid
Time2Next's simple interface and bold colors let me know at a glance how much time there is until my next commitment.
Green - All good; you can keep going.
Yellow: Less than Fifteen minutes; think about wrapping up what you are doing.
Red - Less than Five minutes; Finnish what you're doing, revive (reheat in the microwave) your coffee, and prepare for what's next.
Time2Next remains open all day, on the left third of my iPad, right at the periphery of my vision; when it's green over there, I can relax into Flow. I start to disengage when it turns yellow, and by the time it turns red, my mind is context-switching to what's next.
But wait, there's more!
The first widget I ever downloaded was a countdown app. Having a desktop reminder of that approaching anniversary, conference, or deadline helped me stay mindful of louming commitments. Too often, however, I would forget to update them, leaving a constant reminder that Event-X was 58 days ago.
Time2Next already reads my calendar to find out what's next, so adding an extra query for any upcoming all-day events was simple. Most important events, holidays, conferences, trips, and big deadlines go into my calendar as all-day events anyway, so that's what I did.
So now the medium and large widgets show 3 or 6 upcoming all-day events, making it much harder for them to sneak up on me.
Learning is always fun, and this project was no different. I have some ideas to improve the app, but for now I'll just live with it and see which persist.
Call to Action
If you happen to give Time2Next a go (free in the app store), I'd appreciate any feedback and ideas you have for the next iteration.