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A time management tool for group work

A side project I actually use.

I'm not the most naturally gifted time manager in the world. Time management software and practices are an indispensable pillar of my day-to-day life. Time-blocking, Pomodoro timers, shared calendars, scheduled notifications, I've tried and relied on them all.

Some of my recent favorite tools include TickTick, the /remind me command in Slack, and any messaging app with scheduled send functionality!

One area where time management can be extra challenging is when you're also managing other people's time, a familiar experience when running workshops.

In the book Design Sprints, the author Jake Knapp recommends using a time timer (originally designed to help a child understand the abstract passage of time vivid and concrete way), as it is particularly effective at keeping participants on track and on time resulting in more efficient meetings.

The value of the concept of a time timer was clear to me. Still, with the limitation of it being a physical object, I would have to remember to carry it with me, and it would be less useful in virtual workshops. I was looking for a personal project and had a free evening, so I decided to prototype a digital solution.

Requirements #

The requirements I prioritized with my implementation were:

Page Speed score indicators, 98 Performance, 95 Accessibility, 100 Best Practices, 100 SEO 💪...
This was the first project I used a tool like Page Speed.

User Testing #

After deploying the first version I asked a few colleagues to test it. The feedback was positive but most felt that the direction you scroll the time dial could have been more intuitive. Users felt it should be a counterclockwise motion to add time and wind down clockwise. This was an easy fix and matched the design and intent of the original time timer.

Additionally, users felt the relative change in size of the remaining time area was too small to notice when setting longer times and were unsure if the timer was running. To resolve this, I added a ripple animation to the border of the dial to indicate movement when the clock is "ticking" and a toggle switch to display the underlying countdown. Displaying the countdown by default would have been distracting, but having the option to show it helped reassure users the timer was running.

Conclusion #

This was a short but rewarding side project that was a great opportunity the explore some new development tools and techniques.

Product preview animation
A year later and this is still a tool I frequently reach for, so feel free to try out the time timer web app if it might be helpful to you too.