I wrote a small productivity application, Tomate. Since I'm not a native English speaker, I'm afraid the description of the project may not be clear enough for potential users. Can you help me improve it?
Like many of us, I suffer from attention and procrastination problems, especially when in front of a computer. How can one focus on the mundane task at hand when the appeal of the Internet is just two clicks away?
I started a quest for tools and ideas to help me concentrate (I know, I know...). I found a very good book, unfortunately written in French: "Comment ne pas tout remettre au lendemain", by Bruno Koelz.
It turns out the diagnosis is as follows: the hardest part of not procrastinating is getting to work, by which I mean staying concentrated long enough to really get into the problem. Once this stage is passed, you usually enter a state of flow and continuing to work is a lot easier and more rewarding.
For this reason, I wrote a very small applet that allows me to pass a contract with myself: by clicking the icon, I commit to fully concentrate on a given problem for no less than 10 minutes. The icon becomes red for ten minutes, after which it turns green. I am then free to either continue working or do something else.
The duration is voluntarily small because no matter how boring the task is, ten minutes is always doable. Knowing I have an escape, it is easier to commit.
Since tweaking productivity application parameters is a great way to waste time, the applet has absolutely no configuration options, dialogs, logs, etc. I tried to make it as simple as possible and to avoid including any feature that is not absolutely necessary to accomplish the goal.
Why "Tomate"? Tomate is the French word for tomato, or "Pomodoro" in Italian, which is the name of a similar and popular technique. The Pomodoro technique consists in working in sets of 25 minutes, with mandatory breaks between the chunks. I feel my method is more efficient, because it is a waste to take breaks when you're concentrated and don't need them.
About the code: the applet is written in Python 2 and PyGTK. It is only tested on linux, but it should work on other platforms as well. Feedback welcome!