Lifeline FAQ and knowledgebase

Lifeline, what and why?

What is Lifeline?
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
Why should I set a timer when I’m working?
How is Lifeline different from other (Pomodoro) timers?
Can you list all the advantages of the Pomodoro Technique?
Why is multitasking bad? I’m really good at it
How can I get access to Saent Lifeline?


Basic features

Setting up and getting started
Why does Lifeline need to be able to control my computer (under Security & Privacy > Privacy > Accessibility)?
How do I start and stop a session?
And how do I start a break?
How does Lifeline calculate my recommended break time?
How does Lifeline’s scoring mechanism work?


Advanced features

Does Lifeline have a distraction blocker?
What about reports?
What’s the use of connecting Lifeline with my calendar?
I keep forgetting to launch a session, anything I can do about this?
How can I use the Start meeting function?
My question is not listed above 😞


Lifeline, what and why?


What is Lifeline?

Saent Lifeline is a macOS application that helps you develop an optimal daily working rhythm. It’s based on the Pomodoro Technique, a simple yet powerful productivity method that increases focus; you use a timer to spend your time intentionally, working on just one task at a time, and with sufficient breaks in between periods of deep concentration to restore focus.


What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a simple yet powerful time-management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. Traditionally, it involves a tomato-shaped kitchen timer—pomodoro is Italian for “tomato”—which you set for 25 minutes. During this 25-minute block, you work on only one task without interruptions. One such interval is called a “pomodoro.” Once the 25 minutes are over, you take a five-minute break.


Why should I set a timer when I’m working?

A timer is to attention what accounting is to money; if you don’t know how you’re spending your money, you‘ll spend it on things you don’t need, end up without savings, and perhaps even go bankrupt.

Similarly, most of us spend our attention as if it’s worthless, without much thought into where it’s going, why, and to whom. In this way, you end up without “savings; ” without time for the things that matter.

Using a timer can resolve this. It forces you to spend your time intentionally, and to do so in the most powerful way: concentrating your attention on only one activity for an extended period, instead of spreading it thinly across many different tasks.

“Great creative minds think like artists but work like accountants.” 
– David Brooks

How is Lifeline different from other (Pomodoro) timers?

Lifeline helps you find your optimal work rhythm; you earn points for the two essential components of optimal productivity: extended focus—getting in a state of flow—and sufficient breaks between your sessions. 

Lifeline’s unique interface visualizes your daily rhythm of focus and breaks at the top of your screen, so you know in real-time whether you’re having a good day or not. And Lifeline’s timer function also allows for flexibility: it doesn’t force you to stop after precisely 25 minutes and encourages you to keep going if you’re in a state of flow.


Can you list all the advantages of the Pomodoro Technique?

Here are the most important benefits of using a timer to manage your daily work rhythm:

  • Focuses your attention on one activity at a time. This encourages single-tasking, which increases focus and the quality of your work
  • Ensures you don’t spend too little or too much time on a specific task
  • Helps you plan and learn how much time certain activities truly take
  • Gets you in a state of flow by ensuring you spend at least 25 minutes on a task
  • Helps you rest and recover as you’ll know when it’s time to take a break and for how long.


Why is multitasking bad? I’m really good at it

For well over a decade now, scientific research is crystal-clear: the human brain cannot multitask.

Our brains can’t handle two complex tasks at once, and at best, what we end up doing is continuously switching our attention between the different activities on our plate. This switching costs us dearly: compared to single-tasking, multitasking takes more energy, we are slower, we make more mistakes, and we can’t really think. Multitasking isn’t only impossible, it hurts our productivity, the very thing we think we’re improving.

There is a catch, though: the more you multitask, the more convinced you are that you’re good at it! Unfortunately, this is an illusion. In numerous tests with people of all ages (including teenagers), single-taskers always outperform multitaskers.

“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


How can I get access to Saent Lifeline?

Lifeline is currently invite-only. Fill out this survey to secure a spot on the invite queue list, and we’ll keep you updated on your invitation status.


Basic features


Setting up and getting started

To get an understanding of the basics, we recommend you go through the product tour in the app itself. The tour shows up automatically when you launch Lifeline for the first time. You can also access it from the Product tour option in the taskbar menu.


Why does Lifeline need to be able to control my computer (under Security & Privacy > Privacy > Accessibility)?

By checking for mouse and keyboard activity, Lifeline measures when you’re at your screen and when not. This measuring is necessary to visualize your days and calculate your optimal break time. If there’s no activity from mouse nor keyboard, Lifeline assumes you’re not at your computer anymore and automatically starts your break.

None of this data is stored or recorded by us. The current version of Lifeline runs locally on your computer and sends no information to Saent. We only use Google Analytics to measure basic, anonymized usage data (e.g., which feature was accessed how many times per day). No personal information gets shared or stored with Google, Saent, nor any other third parties.


How do I start and stop a session?

You can start the Lifeline timer by right-clicking the taskbar icon, or by selecting Start timer from the taskbar menu. Do the same when you want to stop your session.

Once you start a session, Lifeline zooms in from a 24-hour view of your day to the next 25 minutes, the length of one pomodoro (🍅). This helps you visualize the remaining length of your session and is a great way to boost your productivity.

Note that Lifeline automatically ends your session after two minutes of inactivity (no keyboard nor mouse activity). You can change this setting in Preferences.


And how do I start a break?

Breaks are launched automatically based on inactivity (no keyboard or mouse activity). By default, this happens after two minutes of inactivity; there’s no need for you to launch a break. Just walk away from your computer at the end of a session.


How does Lifeline calculate my recommended break time?

Based on research, the Pomodoro Technique, and personal experience, a rule of thumb for breaks is that for every five minutes of work, you should take one minute of rest. So a 25-minute session (one Pomodoro) warrants a five-minute break, a 50-minute session a 10-minute break, and so on.

This cycle doesn’t hold indefinitely: after several such cycles, it’s recommended to take a more extended break. Lifeline currently doesn’t take this into account, but we might expand on this in the future.

Left-click the taskbar icon if you want to check what your current buildup of recommended break time is. You’ll see it under Need break: XX mins.


How does Lifeline’s scoring mechanism work?

Lifeline awards points for a work rhythm of focus and balance. You get one point for every minute in session and one for every minute of following your recommended break time. There are just three exceptions to this mechanism:

  1. 25 minutes minimum: to make meaningful progress, you need to give an activity undivided attention for at least 25 minutes (one 🍅). For this reason, you don’t receive any points if you break your session before the 25-minute mark.
  2. Bonus points (focus): the longer you stay focused on one thing, the more likely you are to reach a state of flow (being “in the zone”). This is why Lifeline awards you increasing bonus points for reaching 50 minutes, 75 minutes, and the 100-minute mark. Be warned, though: after 90 minutes of constant focus, your ability to concentrate diminishes, and it’s better to take a long break. This is why you don’t receive additional bonus points if you continue past 100 minutes.
  3. Bonus points (break): taking time away from your computer after a session of deep work is essential to recharge and reflect. Building this habit increases your productivity and overall well-being. This is why Lifeline gives you bonus points for completing the entire recommended break after a session or meeting.

Have a look at this public Google Sheet with examples of Lifeline’s scoring calculation. 

Advanced features


Does Lifeline have a distraction blocker?

Lifeline currently doesn’t have a distraction blocker. We know this was an iconic feature of our discontinued previous desktop software (Evil Facebook anyone?), but facilitating the categorization of sites (evil, neutral, and good) also added lots of complexity to the user experience. We’re looking at ways of bringing this back though, perhaps through integration with third-party solutions; stay tuned.


What about reports?

Lifeline currently has two ways of showing you your historical data:

  1. You can pull down Lifeline to review all your Lifelines from past days. Just hold your mouse on Lifeline until it expands, then pull on the horizontal bar in the center. You can also click the “i” on the right side of each Lifeline to see more detailed info on each day.
  2. You can export your Lifeline sessions and breaks to a calendar of your choosing. The calendar entries contain details such as points earned, time spent, and rewards collected. We recommend setting up a dedicated calendar for this so that you can compare your actual work (your Lifeline sessions) to your initial planning (your regular calendar(s)).


What’s the use of connecting Lifeline with my calendar?

Under Preferences > Calendars, you can connect Lifeline to iCal, and through iCal you can connect iCloud, Google, and Outlook calendars. Doing this unlocks three useful features:

  1. You can plan your Lifeline sessions in your calendar ahead of time. At the time of the calendar event, Lifeline prompts you to start your session. This is a dream setup if you plan your tasks in your calendar (instead of a todo list) and use the Pomodoro Technique.
  2. You can export your actual Lifeline sessions to a designated calendar. This way, you can compare your planning with your actual work rhythm.
  3. If you want to keep track of the time you spend in meetings, Lifeline prompts you to start a meeting timer once your calendar(s) are connected.

Power tip: in Preferences > Calendars, use the column on the right to indicate whether Lifeline should treat entries in a specific calendar as sessions or meetings. This allows you to create one calendar to plan Lifeline sessions and keep your regular calendar exclusive for meetings, appointments, and other events.


I keep forgetting to launch a session, anything I can do about this?

It’s hard to get in the habit of always starting and stopping a session whenever you get to work. If you find yourself forgetting to start your sessions a lot, you can turn on the auto-timer function in Preferences. You can indicate after how many minutes of (keyboard and mouse) activity at the computer a session should automatically start. 

For example, if you set this to zero minutes, it means Lifeline immediately starts a session as soon as you sit down at the computer. If you set it at 5 minutes, Lifeline starts itself once you’ve been at your computer for five minutes.

Note that this setting does not override manual control of Lifeline; you can still start and stop sessions yourself. This option is ideal as a “backup,” ensuring Lifeline starts a session even if you forgot to begin one.


How can I use the Start meeting function?

If you want to keep track in more detail as to how you spend your time, it can be useful to track all your meetings. This way, you get a sense of how much time you spend on focused work (Lifeline sessions), how much time in meetings, and how much screen time is unfocused (time spent not in sessions nor in meetings). Also, meeting time counts toward your recommended break time calculation, as you should also take breaks between or after meetings.

Note that you don’t get points for time spent in meetings. Our philosophy is that meetings are a necessary evil; they can be useful and should not be banned altogether, but you should keep them to a minimum. Real things are accomplished in dedicated, focused time (in Lifeline sessions). This is why Lifeline treats meetings as neutral: no penalty, but also no points.


My question is not listed above 😞

If your question is not listed here, don’t hesitate to mail support [at] saent [dot] com with your questions and feedback, or contact us on Twitter @getsaent.