How often do you find yourself goofing around on Facebook when you should be working? It’s OK, you’re not the only one. But in future, you might be able to keep yourself productive with a clever little app called Obtract.
Designed by Eric St Onge as part of a thesis for an MFA in Interaction Design, Obtract keeps an eye on what you’re doing with your computer.
It monitors the applications you’re using, and the websites you visit. And if it catches you doing something unproductive, it makes you pay by forcing you to solve a maze in order to ‘buy’ that unproductive time.
As you go on being unproductive, the mazes get more complicated, giving you instant visual feedback on just how unproductive you are.
Obtract places the maze over the unproductive activity, even re-sizing it if you try to re-size the window behind it. It’s clever.
You have full control over what’s deemed “productive” and what isn’t. So if your job means visiting Facebook is essential, you can tell Obtract to treat it as productive. The idea is that you know what your real distractions are, so you tell Obtract about them as they crop up.
There’s more, though: Obtract is designed for use by small teams. Every member on the team can see what everyone else’s productivity score is. Individuals can post “milestones”, short messages like tweets to tell everyone else on the team what they’ve been working on.
Obtract has built-in SMS messaging support, allowing you to buy time from your team mates even when they’re away from their desks. It’s like getting permission to goof off.