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Author Topic: Focuth - time management tool for IT people  (Read 4937 times)
mauzer_tim
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« on: October 25, 2010, 10:36:58 AM »

Hello,

Just would like to mention here another productivity tool: Focuth (I'm it's author). It's is an online free time\task management tool that allows you not only to manage your tasks but to track how productively you spent your time and help you concentrate doing things. Unlike many other time\task management tools it’s aimed to train your own productivity habits rather than to replace them with a software.

Aimed for people who find themselves being hard to concentrate on their work, those who are easily distractable due to their work online. Also it is for people who’s hard to force themselves creating todo lists every day but they wish being organized.

How it works?
Write any activity (or choose from the assigned for today ones) you are going to do and specify time to perform. Even time wasting activity like reading news\surfing the internet. After you have done it, check whether the activity was useful or not. Afterwards you can analyse how productively you spent your time, and how good you are in time estimations.

Also the project has built-in todo list with an ability to split complex things on steps (subtasks) and schedule them to a day, week, month and etc (not only days).

The project is in its early beta stage so any feedback highly appreciated.

Focuth's web-site's here: http://focuth.com/

P.S.
Hope this is a good place to get a feedback for a web app. If not feel free to remove it.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2010, 10:38:34 AM by mauzer_tim » Logged
Paul Keith
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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2010, 09:28:41 AM »

Sorry mauzer for the late reply - I haven't been on DC for a while. (got this pm via e-mail notification)

First impression of the login screen:

+1 on the demo - not enough services do that IMO

-1 on using the word minimalistic - this is more of a web design/web culture quibble but from my experience people tend to be very sensitive with any web service that advertises minimalistic but doesn't deliver Zen or Wordpress/Facebook like themes. Even twitter I think never got the minimalistic praise much because it had colors.

First impression of the demo:

  • I think if you're advertising something "as easy as paper" it must have (or the option must be clear to spot in a demo) where a user may print or export their list
  • A question mark icon should not lead to the FAQ page but show a quick tooltip
  • Nice take on using a time tracker as the initial screen - makes it feel fresher than all the online to-do lists dashboard out there
  • Not so keen with the use of a default time + drop down more button for that.
  • Awesome implementation of quick additions to time estimate. I was going to suggest that to counteract the above issue but then I scrolled down and read about it. I do think the FAQ description can be shorter and clearer but even RTM has some trouble with describing their Smart Bar which uses the same principle.
  • Awesome simple option on asking if the user felt productive or not after clicking complete. You definitely want to highlight this feature in the sign-up screen
  • Awesome addition of sub-task. Seems minor but too many online to-do list managers sell this as a pay option or don't have this at all.
  • -1 for no drag and drop feature to re-organize sub-tasks and turn them from main task and vice versa
  • Steps sounds nice but I don't quite understand what that means based off on the FAQ
  • Great job on separating the to-do sheet. A clear print and export option feature wise is the only thing that I can think of improving on it. For usability, maybe use the common e-mail term "inbox" as online productivity users are more used to that term. Then again this could be genius on your part because most paper users probably understand how this view is a todo

Summary:

All in all your online service really surprised me. No offense but my initial thought was..."great another minimalistic to-do list" but you really did a good job of making some basic features seem fresh. I'm sorry if many of my comments deal with design. I'm not a web designer but design (even the aesthetic ones) are such an important and often overlooked detail in productivity apps. That said, IMO,  speed of input and convenience is still king.

If there's any big flaw I could think of is that I wonder whether you can get tons of users to sign up and use it long term especially with the many behemoths of online productivity having already captured the loyalty of most users and the rest of the free competition focusing mostly on aesthetics and simpler apps barring the occasional web app hiding beneath the "GTD" label.

Why I didn't sign up:

I probably don't fit your demographic but the main reason I didn't sign up for the service is because I no longer rely on structured to-do lists.

Not that I found a better system but it seems much faster to just <right click + new text document + name of the item> - although I still do on the rare times use RTM and TrackaMinute which is very similar to your service except it's a desktop app.

What would change my mind?

I'm not a Linux power-user but with Mint Debian being closer and closer to being a stable rolling user friendly Linux distro - I find myself using Linux more and more to the point that I forgot where I kept my XP drivers and the only reason I still switch to XP is because my headset won't work "out of fresh installation" in Linux.

The above details are minor quibbles except it keeps me from using TrackaMinute more often because I don't want to open VirtualBox just for that.

If you could provide a free downloadable app for Linux and Windows that has the exact same interface + features as your web service and have it sync to the cloud then the only other thing keeping me from signing up is an import feature. Not that there can't be improvements beyond that especially since your site is at the alpha stage but this is my minimum productivity requirement currently.
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mouser
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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2010, 11:22:40 AM »

i really like the look and feel -- very streamlined and pleasant to use.  thumbs up
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mauzer_tim
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« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2010, 05:30:15 PM »

Paul,
Wow, honestly I haven't expected so completed feedback! Many thanks for for it, it's inspiring!

+1 on the demo - not enough services do that IMO
-1 on using the word minimalistic - this is more of a web design/web culture quibble but from my experience people tend to be very sensitive with any web service that advertises minimalistic but doesn't deliver Zen or Wordpress/Facebook like themes. Even twitter I think never got the minimalistic praise much because it had colors.
You are absolutely right perhaps I should focus on describing another benefits. Everything I wished to highlight is the fact that unlike the majority of others time trackers the process of adding things todo requires only one logical step: just write it, without any distractions on additional checkboxes or fields. Only you and thing description. The same way as you add things to do on usual sheet of paper. Of course we may not manage without additional fields or checkboxes on editing thing but when we adding things todo, or just looking at your thing daily list we shouldn't be distracted with these hassles.

Quote
  • I think if you're advertising something "as easy as paper" it must have (or the option must be clear to spot in a demo) where a user may print or export their list
Yes that'll be added in future. But actually I just meant that the way you work with Focuth is similar to the way you work with paper sheet. Just you and thing's text and there's no other additional complications like checkboxes or new terms.

BTW, what about you, do you actually need to print your things on a paper?

Quote
  • A question mark icon should not lead to the FAQ page but show a quick tooltip
Agreed.

Quote
  • Not so keen with the use of a default time + drop down more button for that.

I agree, that time re-estimation should be changed to editing the time directly on the thing (like we edit thing's description).

Regarding adding default time at all I sometimes also find this feature a bit annoying (e.g. when I'm creating the draft of todos and do not want to think of estimations). However I like it when we need to do something right now (so we need just to write "Respond to Paul #go" without adding time estimation). This is a kind of a double-edged sword now smiley

Quote
  • Awesome implementation of quick additions to time estimate. I was going to suggest that to counteract the above issue but then I scrolled down and read about it. I do think the FAQ description can be shorter and clearer but even RTM has some trouble with describing their Smart Bar which uses the same principle.
Do you really have known about this feature only after reading the manual? Or you mean this little double arrow button that displays the small description on the blue background?

Quote
  • Awesome simple option on asking if the user felt productive or not after clicking complete. You definitely want to highlight this feature in the sign-up screen
  • Awesome addition of sub-task. Seems minor but too many online to-do list managers sell this as a pay option or don't have this at all.
I'll probably sell something else. Like synchronization between desktop\mobile versions and the web. Or maybe enhanced reporting on your productivity change.

Quote
  • -1 for no drag and drop feature to re-organize sub-tasks and turn them from main task and vice versa
Thanks for noting. Yes, it'll be added ASAP.

Quote
  • Steps sounds nice but I don't quite understand what that means based off on the FAQ
You mean that the term "step" sounds unfamiliar and it's better to change that to "sub-task"?

Quote
  • Great job on separating the to-do sheet. A clear print and export option feature wise is the only thing that I can think of improving on it.
Printing & export will be added without doubt.

Quote
For usability, maybe use the common e-mail term "inbox" as online productivity users are more used to that term.
 Then again this could be genius on your part because most paper users probably understand how this view is a todo[/li][/list]
You're right. I actually do not like any additional terms that a new user should learn. I meet this term many times in  software todo lists but to this moment I still do not understand  the difference between "today's todos" and inbox smiley Anyway thanks for mentioning this I'll think about it.

Quote
All in all your online service really surprised me. No offense but my initial thought was..."great another minimalistic to-do list" but you really did a good job of making some basic features seem fresh. I'm sorry if many of my comments deal with design. I'm not a web designer but design (even the aesthetic ones) are such an important and often overlooked detail in productivity apps. That said, IMO,  speed of input and convenience is still king.
You do not need to sorry, you just describe the things that makes the first impression and they are very important.

Quote
If there's any big flaw I could think of is that I wonder whether you can get tons of users to sign up and use it long term
It's interesting for me too smiley However Focuth is not a yet another todo list or time tracker. This is aimed to be nothing more than a tool to train your productivity habits smiley There's much more another tools that promise you make you organized like pills in drugstore that promises to make you healthy in a click after you accept them smiley. But actually no one pill helps if you actually do not want to be health and do nothing except eating pills. My tool, on the other side, requires you to work (much), but that work may actually improve your productivity habits (like habit to create todo lists and do what you write on them) thus making your more productive. So my service is more like a usual gym. Of course pharmaceutics is more richer industry than sport, but gyms exist and do it well.

Quote
I probably don't fit your demographic but the main reason I didn't sign up for the service is because I no longer rely on structured to-do lists.
I absolutely agree, me too smiley In future I'd like to make Focuth even less structured allowing you to navigate things only with keyboard. BTW you may take a look at http://checkvist.com (if you are not aware of it yet). They have made a very good unstructured todo (check) list.

Quote
Not that I found a better system but it seems much faster to just <right click + new text document + name of the item> -
You are right. I also used this system, however it has some lacks: the things may be lost and you do not have time tracking, and you can access them only with your computer. However in some cases this may be simpler smiley


Quote
If you could provide a free downloadable app for Linux and Windows that has the exact same interface + features as your web service and have it sync to the cloud then the only other thing keeping me from signing up is an import feature. Not that there can't be improvements beyond that especially since your site is at the alpha stage but this is my minimum productivity requirement currently.
Thanks for noting on this. Desktop app is in my plans, but for the first I'll probably release Chrome & Firefox plugins. Just because that's much easier smiley

Thanks again for your feedback!

P.S. BTW what do you think on the project's name? I'm not a native English so I wonder how does it sounds for  native English speaker.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2010, 05:35:51 PM by mauzer_tim » Logged
mauzer_tim
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« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2010, 05:36:54 PM »

i really like the look and feel -- very streamlined and pleasant to use.  thumbs up
Hi mouser,
Thanks for your kind words smiley
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mouser
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« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2010, 05:50:45 PM »

as far a name.. the good part is that it is nice and short.  the bad part is that "Focuth" will likely be heard by native speakers as the way a baby would mis-pronounce "focus" .. so it gives it a kind of "kid" sound, rather than something serious.. so it might be slightly embarassing for an adult to say "Focuth" -- it sounds like you have a speech impediment lisp and are trying to say "focus" -- it's not something that is very comfortable to speak as a native english speaker.
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mauzer_tim
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« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2010, 06:00:22 PM »

as far a name.. the good part is that it is nice and short.  the bad part is that "Focuth" will likely be heard by native speakers as the way a baby would mis-pronounce "focus" .. so it gives it a kind of "kid" sound, rather than something serious.. so it might be slightly embarassing for an adult to say "Focuth" -- it sounds like you have a speech impediment lisp and are trying to say "focus" -- it's not something that is very comfortable to speak as a native english speaker.
Mouser, thanks once again for your thoughts!
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Paul Keith
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« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2010, 07:00:28 PM »

Quote
Do you really have known about this feature only after reading the manual? Or you mean this little double arrow button that displays the small description on the blue background?

Well...it was something I was going to suggest and then I spotted it at the manual.

The double arrow button wasn't much of a factor for me when writing this observation.

Quote
I'll probably sell something else. Like synchronization between desktop\mobile versions and the web. Or maybe enhanced reporting on your productivity change.

It's probably risky for desktop but mobile version - everyone is doing it.

I'm not a businessman though and I think you are losing a huge chunk for offering a free "uncrippled" desktop syncing app but at the same time - this is the one thing that none of your competitors to my knowledge has done. Even EverNote uses a freemium type for the desktop version.

(However there are other notetaking apps before that syncs to a server or the cloud but nothing super popular except for those that sync with Dropbox or uses RTM's api)

Quote
You mean that the term "step" sounds unfamiliar and it's better to change that to "sub-task"?

Probably. Actually the term "step" just sounded unknown to me and I never attempted to test out what it really is outside of seeing the screenshot in the manual because I thought it was one of those "advanced" features that I just couldn't get.

Quote
You're right. I actually do not like any additional terms that a new user should learn. I meet this term many times in  software todo lists but to this moment I still do not understand  the difference between "today's todos" and inbox

Inbox mostly refers to "urgent" task. It should be the same as to-dos but the way RTM works for example is that if you don't set up a schedule for your task - it will never appear on your "inbox" or "todo".

It's a chicken and egg situation. Inbox assumes your to-do is your multi-tabbed dashboard and then it all falls back to the inbox.

Yours assumes the dashboard is a catch-all "inbox" and then the to-do is what a person writes then afterwards.

DC member tomos might have a better way of explaining it. I could almost envision it as another of those Forster/Allen differences that ends up creating a similar master list of tasks but using different initial processes to achieve that end goal.

Quote
My tool, on the other side, requires you to work (much), but that work may actually improve your productivity habits (like habit to create todo lists and do what you write on them) thus making your more productive. So my service is more like a usual gym. Of course pharmaceutics is more richer industry than sport, but gyms exist and do it well.

It's a good realistic pragmatic goal but from a marketing standpoint - it can be very hard to sell.

People generally flock to these apps with the initial hope that "this is finally it!"

Quote
BTW you may take a look at http://checkvist.com (if you are not aware of it yet). They have made a very good unstructured todo (check) list.

Yeah, I've checked out checkvist before although I haven't monitored it.

I think I initially liked checkvist's feel among the barebones online to-do list managers until it dawned on me that I was using primarily a checklist where unlike RTM it didn't have context categories for tags, separate section for notes especially multiple notes, easy separate input of time and urls and then the whole thing just suddenly felt like a notepad with checkboxes or a less  powerful MonkeyGTD.

Quote
You are right. I also used this system, however it has some lacks: the things may be lost and you do not have time tracking, and you can access them only with your computer. However in some cases this may be simpler

Yeah, this is mostly alleviated on my side by Dropbox (although I am nearing the limit of the free version) and like I said, I also used TrackaMinute.

Mostly though I'm not a clock or dates type of guy. If there's something I need to be reminded of, I often feel that writing it down on paper is still the best.

For those types of habitual recursive tasks - I'm more of a Rootein, 42goals or Joe's Goals type of guy although I do tend to lose control most of the time and lose track of using them which is precisely why I resort to them because unlike scheduled tasks, if I take a month or year away and return to my account - it makes me feel less guilty clicking a mouse button rather than setting up a new date for the same task. (I also hate trying to estimate the amount of time a task may take)

You seem very passionate about time tracking though so you may be interested in this web service where it reverses the whole thing.

Instead of creating a time estimate, you basically archive your tasks with an estimated time.

The app will then hide the tasks but ask how much free time you currently have using set questions like (I have a day, 4 hours, etc.)

Once you answered that question - only then will the tasks meeting that requirement show up in.

I forgot the name though.

For the paper analogy, I just remembered this old Lifehacker article that uses the same marketing scheme:

http://lifehacker.com/542...ist-that-works-like-paper

Quote
P.S. BTW what do you think on the project's name? I'm not a native English so I wonder how does it sounds for  native English speaker.

I'm neutral on it. I get mouser's point but as far as a web user I can't help but remembering how an app called Remember the Milk turned me off because of it's name.

Then you fall back on all the other bad sounding names: Nozbe? Check"v"ist? Toodledoo-hoo... Todo"ISttt"

If anything the apps that haven't caught traction are those that sell their name as "Project Managers" or "MegaHyperPIM"

That said, it is sound advise and the reason for most of these apps not gaining ground comes from the service itself being poor but still even today I can't help but think the apps that took ground also stood apart because of their wacky names.

Focuth is a little bit rough at the end but this mostly comes down to marketing and web presence.

If you really need to switch - you'll hear it from when you actually have a decent size community and then get advertised in Lifehacker or other sites and then people express "lame" or "switch the name".

Edit: I nearly forgot to mention - I'm not a native speaker either. English is the 2nd language in my country.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2010, 07:03:38 PM by Paul Keith » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2010, 09:05:03 PM »

I like your web application but unfortunately I only have limited Internet connection. Keep up the good work!  Thmbsup
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mauzer_tim
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« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2010, 04:35:47 PM »

Quote
It's probably risky for desktop but mobile version - everyone is doing it.

I'm not a businessman though and I think you are losing a huge chunk for offering a free "uncrippled" desktop syncing app but at the same time - this is the one thing that none of your competitors to my knowledge has done. Even EverNote uses a freemium type for the desktop version.
You are right regarding the risks. However as a mISV (my apps are in the profile) I got tired of dealing with cracks and problems (for users) that causes software protection so I'd probably wish to offer free apps and earn money on something non-crackable smiley But at the moment earning the money isn't a priority task for the project. First of all I need to polish an idea and make the app to be really useful for people.

Quote
Probably. Actually the term "step" just sounded unknown to me and I never attempted to test out what it really is outside of seeing the screenshot in the manual because I thought it was one of those "advanced" features that I just couldn't get.
Thanks. Will thought on it.


Quote
Inbox mostly refers to "urgent" task. It should be the same as to-dos but the way RTM works for example is that if you don't set up a schedule for your task - it will never appear on your "inbox" or "todo".
Thanks for the explanations!

Quote
Quote
My tool, on the other side, requires you to work (much), but that work may actually improve your productivity habits (like habit to create todo lists and do what you write on them) thus making your more productive. So my service is more like a usual gym. Of course pharmaceutics is more richer industry than sport, but gyms exist and do it well.
It's a good realistic pragmatic goal but from a marketing standpoint - it can be very hard to sell.
People generally flock to these apps with the initial hope that "this is finally it!"
Unfortunately you are absolutely right smiley


Quote
You seem very passionate about time tracking though so you may be interested in this web service where it reverses the whole thing.
I'm not passionate on the plain time tracking. I just know from my experience that setting an explicit deadline for a thing helps completing this thing. Maybe not in time. But if you haven't set a deadline the thing tends to be not completed at all smiley

Quote
Instead of creating a time estimate, you basically archive your tasks with an estimated time. The app will then hide the tasks but ask how much free time you currently have using set questions like (I have a day, 4 hours, etc.)
Once you answered that question - only then will the tasks meeting that requirement show up in.
Interesting idea. However I personally dislike that it chooses for you what things you should do the first.

Quote
Interesting project. Never heard of it before. I really like its simplicity and wish Focuth would be so minimalistic and bare-bone as it is.

Quote
I'm neutral on it. I get mouser's point but as far as a web user I can't help but remembering how an app called Remember the Milk turned me off because of it's name.
Edit: I nearly forgot to mention - I'm not a native speaker either. English is the 2nd language in my country.
Thanks for telling your point.

And once again Paul, many thanks to you and all other guys here for spending your time discussing my app.
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mauzer_tim
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« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2010, 04:39:09 PM »

I like your web application but unfortunately I only have limited Internet connection. Keep up the good work!  Thmbsup
Erikts, thanks for the kind words and for your note. As I said earlier a desktop app is in future plans, feel free to subscribe the news on Focuth's site (e.g. via twitter) to know when it will be released.
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Paul Keith
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« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2011, 03:29:30 AM »

Just posting this in case tim might not have heard about the competition:

https://chrome.google.com...bdenjjpekdajanfgchlgacdea

The concept is nothing new but the fact that it's an extension in Chrome with a simple and clear GUI might get some people's interest away from Focuth.
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