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Your Carrot App, a life balancer tool

September 16, 2018
7 min read
an amber carrot

Why?

For fun.

A long way back, my life work balance was not so bad, but not so good neither... it could be better, and I started a path of self improvement. I need to be my own boss and improve my work-life balance, but at the same time I needed to improve the value and quality of what I do in the same period of time.

On that path, I started to do a lot of things, like for example meditations, specially mindfulness meditations. I really connected to it. In those meditations I found how important it is to identify distractions. And how important it is to go back and focus on your breathing. "Don't do anything, don't judge them, just... notice them."

Then I thought that the breathing, implicitly, is the center point -generically speaking- that you define for that meditation session.

Once the center point is set, then you can identify what is not that center point (distractions) much easier.

Again, if you define your custom center point at all times, then, you can identify distractions from it much more effectively, and act with a broader conciousness, for example, bringing back your focus to the center point you defined. That was the idea.

So this technique may help you to avoid distractions, and remember what is your center point, at all times. But there is a memory problem with that. Oftenly you don't remember what is the center point, or the most important thing you should focus on at all times, because there is a lot of information flowing and the focus will naturally lead you to differents scopes making it really hard to do it at all times and, if you do, you will waste a lot of time constantly going back to it, if you can. Even harder is to make that an habit with changing priorities.

But... if that reminder is always present with a colorful icon, planned ahead of time, defined in a planning session once, then it will be different, because you will know what you have to do. And if you don't like to follow that plan, then you can plan different for the future.

a donkey and a carrot

So in that path, as I mentioned, I tried a lot of things... I also read some books. For example, Deep Work, written by Cal Newport. In this great book, I've learned what deep work is, why is valuable. I also learn the different philosophies that you can use to embrace it by yourself. When I read it, I decided to try out my own flavor of a "rithmic" philosophy for deep work. I wanted to define hourly ranges to focus on shallow work, and hourly ranges to focus on deep work, while keeping time for my family, and potentially other stuff, like eat.

So... I thought that this things, deep work, shallow work, plus family, and other stuff (like eat), are good "center points" or "carrots" for me that I should focus on (at least to start with, I can fine tune it as I go), in order to be more productive and be "more like I want".

Then I read another books, like for example Peak Performance, by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness. In that particular book I learned some concrete examples on how to schedule my days with a healthy balance of stress and rest, which helped me to adjust a bit my carrot schedule and also to make sure that doing one thing at a time is also needed for peak performance.

Yes. I did the obvious. I searched for life planners, but those all take different approaches. Some of them are very interesting. But I wanted this flavor that feels correct to me.

So I decided I could build up something simple. And that's what I did. I call it "your carrot", and is a life-balancer.

For me, a carrot is a center point.

I also imagine lot more use cases. But first I need to validate if this works for other people than just myself.

Your Carrot App lets you manage carrots with a decent UI. So you can plan carrots for yourself and always easily remember your center point in order to identify distractions from it. This will help you to stay focused on what you want, and get the most from yourself.

For now, Your Carrot App only works for macos with some restrictions and it is in very early alpha version.

Try it out and, if you do, please, send me feedback to nicosommi@gmail.com

Remember to first read the Docs and see the video for Getting Started.

What's Your Carrot App about?

Is just an icon on the tray bar... and a lot more, starting with the UI to schedule that icon, but also the whole structure built around that schedule that you create for your life. But honestly, that icon is everything I needed to start with, a "first-saw" sign of what my current focus should be.

With the app you can easily and nicely create different carrots (with different colors) and assign different time periods to them, with a lot of flexibility, like day time ranges, weekdays, months of the year, etc.

You can also select "Do not disturb" for the carrot you're creating, meaning that during that time you will not get distracted by notifications from your computer (again, inspired by deep work). Note: this feature for now is just tested on MacOS High Sierra and requires you to grant this special permission to the app under Settings / Privacy / Accesibility.

Also, you can export your carrots to share to a different person / device, and also import new carrots to your app.

In the future, more integrations with a lot of different third party apps are possible, like updating the status on Slack, open your inbox, or trigger any other custom command. It is open to the creativity. If you have any ideas that you want to share, send me an email to nicosommi@gmail.com.

So... is this another to-do list?

Absolutely Not! This is a complementary tool. In fact, I may create integrations with to-do lists in the future. In a to-do list you put concrete things that need to be done. Your carrots just remembers you what your primary focus should be at a given time, according to yourself!

Why not using CRON expressions instead of this UI and this JSON structure?

Because it does not work very well with the strategy of this app (the business dialect I wanted to create). I needed something custom to plan my days with the flexibility I wanted. Adopting CRON would increase the complexity of the solution as a whole. In fact, that was my starting point.

Pricing

For now is free and all released versions are going to be always free until new advice. My intention is just to express myself by sharing a tool I made for myself and get feedback. Read the terms and conditions to know more

Example Carrots

I'm the first user of the app, so my initial carrots are my example: Family, Eat Healthy, Shallow work, Deep work. So by just looking the carrot on the tray I know is not a good time to read emails, meetings, news, articles, and the like, and that I need to focus on deep work. The same way, I know that now is time to be with the family, according to the balance I defined for myself. With time, I can easily fine tune, measure and improve.

Also, I can easily create an overlapping carrot with higher priority like Take care of my child, or something else that is unpredictible and temporal, with just a few clicks. Examples: errands, vacations, time off, a monastic deep work schedule, or whatever you want. You may event want to schedule more than one carrot for those periods.

Should you be interested?

Honestly, I don't know yet. I'm just sharing a tool I use myself with everyone to hear feedback.

That said, if you want to

  • adopt a new plan or macro philosophy that guides you and drives your focus through the day
  • improve your work life balance
  • remember to focus on something while you're at the computer at given times
  • identify distractions to have a broader conciousness
  • program complex schedules for your plan (like, for now, enabling Do Not Disturb mode on macos) This app may be helpful.

It is free... so, if you have doubts, you can just give it a try, see details below. If you do, remember to tell me how it goes!

NOTE: Please consider that this is the very first, ultra mega alpha 0.1 version so it has a lot of limitations and things to improve and depends on your honest feedback.

Want to give it a try?

Awesome! These are the next steps:

  1. Learn How To use it
  2. Download the latest version

nico
v1.0.3
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