You and I have something in common: we could both benefit from being more productive. Lately I’ve been testing out an app called Tinker ($0.99) which provides a simple way to create duration-based goals to get more done. In fact, I’m using it right now to help me write this very review.
I love the philosophy behind this app which shines through in the quotes users see when creating new goals. One such quote from Leo Babauta reads, “Simplicity boils down to two steps: identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.” Another quote the app showed me was this one from E. Joseph Cossman: “Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes of his goal.” These quotes show you that this app is really all about motivation.
I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to see a list of things waiting to get done. Todo lists often become to-don’t lists for me because they don’t offer much in the way of actually helping you get the tasks they contain completed.
That’s where Tinker’s duration-based goal setting comes in really handy. It doesn’t just tell you what you’ve got to get done, it reminds you when you need to get started and shows you the progress you’re making (in terms of time spent on a task) to help keep you motivated.
There’s something very interested about seeing time go by. It makes you realize how fleeting it is. When you see the seconds of the day ticking away you realize you really don’t have all day to get something done.
Take this blog post for instance. Using Tinker I setup a goal to blog for 15 minutes. At the moment I’ve got 4 minutes and a few odd seconds left to go. I can see that if I used this app consistently I’d have a better idea of how long it takes me to do certain tasks.
Having a bunch of items sitting in a calendar doesn’t really do a whole lot for me. Getting a reminder when I’m supposed to get started? Now that’s really useful.
To setup a goal users simply use a reverse pinching (think zoom) gesture to open a task bubble. Once a bubble is formed you can give it a title, set a date/time and a duration. Default time duration is set at 15 minutes but you can change that to be anything from 1 minute up to 23 hours and 59 minutes.
Once you’ve created a goal it’s time to get down to business. Newly created goals start automatically but can be paused with a tap. Once paused the goal bubble blinks almost like a nag designed to get your attention focused back on the task at hand as soon as possible.
While you work you can see the time ticking away in the center. Around the perimeter of the bubble is a colored line that snakes itself around the bubble until it completes a full circle (presumably when you’re task is complete).
The color of the snaking line changes as your time dwindles. It starts off red and eventually changes into green as you near the end of your time.
Switching between goals is as easy as pinching to create them, tapping to pause them and tapping to start the time on the goal you want to focus on.
Scheduling apps are often overly compliated. Tinker is minimalistic to the core. I love the simplicity and focus of the design which puts to good use the “less is more” mentality.
A black background makes the small bit of info that appears on the screen really pop. Other than that there’s not much else there. There’s no settings screen and no buttons. The user interface is straightforward and designed to help you get from point A to point B with as little friction as possible.
Does it work?
I definitely found that having Tinker open while I worked was useful. It reinforced a sense of urgency and purpose while making it apparent that progress was being made. At the same time it got out of the way and let me work rather than creating extra work for me, a major flaw in many task and todo apps.
If you’re looking for an app that can help you concentrate and stay motivated with the ultimate goal of getting more done (without getting in your way) and if you appreciate beautiful, simple design, Tinker might be the perfect app for you to start tinkering with.