Find calm, do great work, and live a fulfilling life. That’s what Saent is all about. Our newest product—a desktop application for macOS called Saent Lifeline—helps you achieve these goals.
“The modern workplace is sick.” – It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy At Work
- No more Swiss cheese days.
- Balance is give and take, for both work and life.
- Meaningful work does not happen on your mobile.
- Routine in your life fuels creativity in your work.
- Technology can help us find calm and fulfillment.
Let’s look at these in detail.
1. No more Swiss cheese days
You know those Swiss cheeses, with lots of holes? That’s what most of your days look like if you plotted them out on a line, marking concentrated work sessions versus interruptions.
“A fractured hour isn’t really an hour—it’s a mess of minutes.” – It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy At Work
Contrary to popular belief, you can’t slice up your attention in short bits. Well, you can, but the results are dismal. You’ll make more mistakes, be slower, and exhaust yourself faster. Attention should be spent in large chunks, not small slices.
“There are lots of ways to slice 60 minutes.
1 × 60 = 60
2 × 30 = 60
4 × 15 = 60
25 + 10 + 5 + 15 + 5 = 60
All of the above equal 60, but they’re different kinds of hours entirely. The number might be the same, but the quality isn’t.
The quality hour we’re after is 1 × 60.
– It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy At Work
It takes at least ten minutes to get into a state of real concentration, and, with training, you can keep this up for a maximum of 90 minutes. After that, you need a break to recharge your focus.
Most of us don’t have to worry about hitting that 90-minute barrier though. In the modern workplace, people struggle to hit 50, 25, or even just ten minutes of uninterrupted work. Worst of all, we don’t realize this is happening.
Lifeline changes this by visualizing your day at the top of your screen and rewards you for completing 25-minute cycles of uninterrupted work.
2. Balance is give and take, for both work and life
Hustlers, tech billionaires, and other crooks have given balance a bad rep; I believe it’s the future of work.
Thinking, creativity, and decision making are the essential skills in a world where mundane—and even not so mundane tasks—are getting automated. These skills need a brain that’s rested, calm, and happy. Balance is how you achieve that. Unfortunately, our modern world of everything, all the time is precisely the opposite, the most unbalanced place you can think of.
“Balance is give and take. The typical corporate give-and-take is that life gives and work takes. If it’s easier for work to claim a Sunday than for life to borrow a Thursday, there ain’t no balance. [..] If work can claim hours after 5:00 p.m., then life should be able to claim hours before 5:00 p.m. Balance, remember. Give and take.” – It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy At Work
It doesn’t end there. Many employers also freely take from vacations and don’t account for the toll of overwork.
“If you work the weekends, you don’t get a chance to recharge. Basically, when you’ve worked all week and you’re forced to work the weekend, the following Monday is the eighth day of the last week, not the first day of next week. This means that if you keep working through that following week, you’re working 12-day weeks. That’s no good.” – It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy At Work
This is not balance. Whether intentional or not, our workplaces, and even us, as individuals, don’t keep score. We give, give, give, and work takes, takes, takes, but nobody keeps track. This needs to change. Not just because the current situation is bad for our health, relationships, and happiness, but because we’ll actually perform better and be more productive when our days are more balanced.
Saent Lifeline helps you do just that. It visualizes how balanced your days are, and it keeps that score.
Quite a balanced week, though a few early mornings and several sessions in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep.
3. Meaningful work does not happen on your mobile
You can’t get real work done on your mobile. Sure, you can fire off a bunch of terse emails, dash out a quick Tweet, or scroll through your Instagram feed to kill some time. But getting real stuff done? I believe desktop and laptop computers are here to stay. It’s where you sit down to do meaningful, great work.
In doubt? Give people a table, chair, desktop computer, and mobile device. Then ask them to draft a plan, make a design, or write an article; the kind of tasks modern knowledge work consists of. Which device you think they’ll use?
The mobile might be picked up, but mainly as a distraction machine, not where the actual work is done. That’s why Saent Lifeline is for desktop (currently macOS only). Tasks you’re doing on mobile are not essential to track, or shouldn’t be done on your phone in the first place.
4. Routine in your life fuels creativity in your work
“Be regular and orderly in your life like a Bourgeois so that you may be violent and original in your work.” – Gustave Flaubert (French novelist)
When you hear the word “routine,” you probably think boring. Of some office clerk who clocks in at 9 am sharp, lunchbox in hand, and checks out again at 5 pm. Like clockwork, every day.
The reality is that many figures of great accomplishment follow a routine of one form or another. Author Mason Currey describes many of them on his blog and in his book (which handily sidestepped the boring connotation of the word routine by naming it “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work”).
Here’s an example of Benjamin Franklin’s daily routine:
Routine sets us free to be creative. When you have a daily ritual, you don’t need your mind to plan, to worry about what to do next, it’s all part of the routine. This saves up valuable headspace you can use for great work.
“The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work.”- William James
Many of the creative people described in Daily Rituals have the following elements in their daily routine:
- Three hours of deep work (usually writing) before lunch.
- A long midday break, anywhere between two to four hours.
- Extensive walks during those breaks (one hour or more).
- Another session of work in the late afternoon or early evening (two to three hours).
- No more than six hours of deep work per day, some even putting in just three or four hours daily.
- Lots of drinking (not sure it’s helpful, but it was definitely a recurring theme).
Lifeline helps you visualize and plan your daily ritual. You can see, in real-time, how you’re spending your days. By watching your Lifeline unfold and by reviewing previous ones, you can easily spot which rhythms and habits work for you, and which ones don’t. Perhaps as important, you can learn from others by comparing your Lifelines!
5. Technology can help us find calm and fulfillment
Modern technology causes many of the problems we face in finding calm and fulfillment. It’s one of the main reasons for our Swiss cheese days. We’re hooked to our devices, and they disturb our work, sleep, and social relationships. Research even links our over-connectedness to stress and other mental health issues.
Faced with such a damaging culprit, a natural response is to get rid of the bastard altogether. Not surprisingly, disconnecting, detox, and going off the grid are terms we hear a lot these days.
In my opinion, this a knee-jerk reaction, from one extreme to the other. It’s a human tendency to do that, to swing from one extreme to the other, so it’s understandable. But, while I’m still not sure how you throw out a baby with the bathwater, that’s proverbially what we’re doing here.
As I’ve argued before, technology itself is not at fault. The problem is how we (humans) design our tech products. We can create technology that guides us in the right direction, that nudges us towards the better parts of our nature, instead of feasting on our worst instincts. It’s a matter of what choices product designers, entrepreneurs, and others working in tech make; what they find valuable and meaningful when building their businesses and products.
Saent Lifeline is a tech product meant to guide you to those better parts of your human nature, towards focus, but also balance in the form of rest and reflection. It helps you make the most of your days and, ultimately, live a more fulfilling life.