Saent: Tap to Focus
A China-based start-up is developing a programmable button and app that encourages workers to commit to productive bouts of work by disabling distracting apps and websites for set intervals.
Saent (pronounced 'saint') works on the principle that workers are most productive when focusing on single tasks for short bursts, separated by frequent breaks. The company cites research that shows only a handful of people in thousands can multitask effectively.
Users tap the button to disable a customisable list of distractions on their computers – social media and emails, for example – and an LED band counts down to the next break. The button is more than an egg timer – it lets users control their existing productivity apps with the button's touch controls; for example, double tapping to open a calendar app, or swiping right to strike completed tasks from to-do lists.
It tries to make focused work a habit by making it measurable. The software provides detailed information about workers' behaviour, helping them identify their most productive time of day and the ideal length of work sessions between breaks. It rewards good behaviours – workers are given points for completing tasks and staying focused, allowing colleagues to compete for points in a workplace ranking.
Saent's constant physical presence on their desks is also intended as a visual cue: "It's easy to forget about an app on your cluttered desktop or home screen, but the Saent button is a beautiful, physical reminder to stay focused," Saent states on popular crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. It raised more than $32,500 in 27 days by August 3 2015.
Saent says its device will cost between $49 and $69, including a one-year premium plan for the software – which will normally cost $5-10 per month.
For more on the tech and trends driving the future of work, including millennials' desire for work-life balance, see Working Smarter.