Keep Track of Your Productivity with CherryTomato

I released version 0.3 of CherryTomato a couple of days ago. It has the two most requested features so far. One is the ability to be reminded to start a new pomodoro after a break of five, ten or fifteen minutes.
The other is a mini dashboard that shows a large timer. This works particularly well if you have two monitors – you can keep it visible on your secondary monitor all the time.
The dashboard also shows you how productive you have been this month and last month. It is mostly an experiment. In time, you will be able to keep track via a beatpoints web app where you can do various analytics, but that is evolving slowly.

If you haven’t tried CherryTomato you might be wondering how it would know this. Every time you finish a pomodoro, CherryTomato asks you to rate it from 1 to 10. This rating should reflect how focused you were, how much work you did and not least, how well the work you did finish matched your estimations. If you did more work than you estimated, that is not a good sign and should subtract a bit from your rating.
Now, these are accumulated over the day and form what I call the productivity index. Theoretically, you can run 57 pomodoros in a day, making the maximum possible productivity index 570 if they are each a 10. I find that with the way I rate myself, I tend to reach somewhere around 100 on good days. I am hoping that seeing my own statistics will help motivate me if I am running behind.

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26 Comments

  1. Vasiliy
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Hi again.

    Wanna thank you for it. And bring some feedback.

    Sounds are working – this is exactly what I miss in the application.

    5-10-15 min reminder is something I wanted mostly. 🙂 I forget to start a pomodoro quite often. 🙂

    The dashboard is great idea! I can see my productivity since the day I downloaded CherryTomato.
    I’ve started the 0.3 version and saw the dashboard right away. Well… I do not need it all the time on the screen. I have only one monitor. 🙂
    I have a proposal to create one more item in system tray right click menu: “Show/Hide the dashboard”. It’s difficult to right click for setting->click the tree -> click the checkmark -> close settings.
    Or another proposal to show it each time a pomodoro finished and hide just after a pomodoro started.

    One more issue the dashboard requires is the calendar-like labels.
    1) Above the month “table” it is good to see month name.
    2) Also above each column of the table the short week names would be good as well.
    3) And draw month day number on each cell. This is most important change I believe.

    With positive emotions.
    Vasiliy.

  2. Vasiliy
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    And one more thing.
    “One is the ability to be reminded to start a new pomodoro after a break of five, ten or fifteen minutes.”
    I didn’t notice the way how it work. Can you tell me what should happen in case 5 minutes passed by?

  3. Kristian
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Vasiliy,

    Thank you for the feedback. I know that the calendar is a bit hard to read at this point. It is partly on purpose – I wanted to emphasize the trends more than give you information about specific dates. I was considering showing a graph instead but I thought it would be easier to spot weekly patterns with this model (am I more productive on Mondays etc.). But yeah, I will probably add at least the day number.

    As for the reminder, it is a bit subtle. It flashes the icon and plays a sound. Having used it for a while I think I will have to change the sound (you can do so yourself if you want – it’s pomo_reminder.wav) because I tend not to notice it if I am listening to music.

    Cheers!

  4. Vasiliy
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    I still forget to start pomodoros. Probably because I never look at the system tray and often listen to music. And more often I’m not on my work place due to too long 5 min break.
    And, hey, what about default focus of the result/estimation window? It still set to ‘Approve’ button.
    Have a good day.
    Vasiliy.

  5. Kristian
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, suggestions are welcome. I like to keep it unobtrusive, but it’s a fine balance 🙂

    Regarding focus, the evaulation window no longer pops in front which means that you have to manually switch to it before you can approve. This solves the problem that I sometimes had that it surprised me when I was typing something else. Would you prefer it to have no default focus entirely?

  6. Vasiliy
    Posted July 3, 2010 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Hello!

    I even didn’t notice the window pops on background. 🙂 Cool. Thanks! No need to remove default focus.

    I have a idea on how to avoid time waster of the evaluation window. In almost all cases I estimate my productivity by percentage values in the applications list. The calculations takes time. I have to filter in my my all the useful applications and calculate theirs percents sum. Why don’t automate this to some level? For example:
    1) Track not by application caption but by the executable file? Or even both. Introduce the radio button to the evaluation widow so as user could switch between “Window caption percents” and “Process file name percents”.
    The matter is I have several Visual Studios opened. All of them are the same devenv.exe file but have different window caption. I really waste time looking for them in the list.
    2) Introduce checkmark on the left of each line of the ‘applications table’. Sum all percents of checked items. After a check changed adjust the Rating track bar according to the sum. And the most important idea here is to preserve checked application titles/executables in order to restore all checked boxes next time the evaluation window appear.

    Once again I’m asking you to make the application open source. Because all these simple features I’m able to implement myself and share with all others.

    Waiting for your polite answer as they usually are. 🙂
    Vasiliy.

  7. Vasiliy
    Posted July 3, 2010 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    By the way! If item 2 of my previous comment will be implemented then the application will became even more unobtrusive! 🙂

  8. Vasiliy
    Posted July 3, 2010 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Sorry being flooding your blog but one idea come up. 🙂
    If item 2 will be implemented we would get the possibility to show real time productivity of currently running pomodoro. 🙂 For example in system tray tool tip or on the dashboard.

  9. Angela
    Posted July 4, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Hi! I’ve just installed cherrytomato, but I don’t hear the ticking sounds.. or any sounds at all for that matter. It could be because I’ve installed it on Windows 7 and it has compatibility issues?

  10. Vasiliy
    Posted July 4, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    I found bug. 🙁
    The Skype status message (mood) does not wipe out after a pomodoro finished. It always says “In pomodoro (1 min to go). Please don’t disturb me unless it’s important. Thank you.”

  11. Kristian
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    (I was out for the weekend, sorry)

    Vasiliy,
    CT currently looks at the .exe name if a window doesn’t have a title. Personally, I like to keep this level of granularity because I want, for instance, to see how much time I spend on CherryTomato versus my other projects. Also, the .exe filename would make all web usage equal.
    I love the idea of automated rating. I think I would prefer it to be more of a “rating guideline”, but I guess it could just set the slider for you, still allowing you to overrule it.
    Regarding the bug, I will look into it. Have you noticed any particular conditions where this occurs?

    Angela,
    I haven’t heard of any Windows 7 issues. I am still on Vista though, so I have only tested it briefly on a virtual machine. I will look into that as well.

    Regarding making the app open source, I am sorry to say that it won’t happen right now. I receive a lot of emails asking me for it, so it is something that I am considering but I don’t want to make any promises.

    Cheers!

  12. Vasiliy
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Regarding the bug I found – give me some time and I’ll try to find a stable scenario.
    Regarding the window title/executable. I proposed to make it optional.

    I think someday somebody will rewrite the CT in his own way using you original design and idea. 🙂

    Cheers!

  13. Kristian
    Posted July 7, 2010 at 2:13 am | Permalink

    Thank you.

    And well, if CT is copied as open source, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, no? 🙂
    I promise I will make up my mind soon, I can tell that it is something that many people want.

    Cheers!

  14. Vasiliy
    Posted July 12, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Could not find how to reproduce the bug I mentioned. But another case drives me crazy. The dwm.exe process and CherryTomato.exe process take about 10%-12% of CPU. Can you make the loop not that often, please? My Visual Studio lags.

  15. Kristian
    Posted July 12, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I have seen the other bug myself, so there is definitely something. I too have not been able to reproduce it though..

    As for the cpu usage, that is strange – it runs very light for me (the current process has a total of 37 seconds cpu time and it has been running for I don’t know how many days). Was it always this slow or did it happen with the last update?

  16. Vasiliy
    Posted July 12, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t check the CT 0.2 performance. But 0.3 definitely too hungry. 🙂 Want me to check CT 0.2? When could you please give me a link to download it. 🙂

  17. Kristian
    Posted July 12, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    It’s here: http://www.beatpoints.com/cherrytomato/cherrytomato0_2.msi
    Also, are you using skype and/or messenger integration?

  18. Vasiliy
    Posted July 13, 2010 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    I found how to reproduce extra CPU usage bug.
    To reproduce it you need both:
    1) Skype running. Without Skype CT and dwm.exe uses 0% CPU.
    2) Pomodoro running.
    I have no other messenger integration.
    My Skype is 4.2.0.169.
    Windows 7 N Ultimate with all latest updates.
    CT 0.2 behaves exactly the same way as described in this comment. 4-5% by CT and 1-2% by dwm.exe.
    Maybe dwm.exe is not the problem of CT. It could be different issue of my system.

  19. Vasiliy
    Posted July 13, 2010 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    I’ve downloaded CT 0.3 just now and found there ‘Reminder’ functionality. 🙂
    It’s hard to understand when, how, and what it for. Will there be any descriptions (preferably on application forms)?

  20. Kristian
    Posted July 13, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    It does consume more cpu when in pomodoro but nothing noticable for me. I will look into it though. Thanks!

    Reminders are a left-over from what the program started as: http://www.chrylers.com/discreet-reminder/ – I use them to remind myself to stretch and do reality checks (a lucid dreaming thing). I am considering expanding on them a bit – for instance they could remind me of interesting tweets, new email and stuff. The rationale being that CT knows when I can be disturbed, so it could make sure not to bother me with those things when I am in pomodoro.

  21. Vasiliy
    Posted July 14, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    The reminders look reasonable. Will try it at next release of CT. Thank you.

  22. Daniel
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your CT! I like the reminder feature. It would be nice if it would remind me a little bit more persistent.

    My Windows 7 (64bit) installation is unable to automatically close CT. Whenever I want to shutdown my computer, I have to allow Window to kill the CT process. I doubt that CT is designed to show this behavior.

  23. Kristian
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Daniel,

    Thank you!

    I am not sure what you mean with “persistent”..

    As for the closing problem, others have reported that as well. I guess there must be a thread left running sometimes. I will look at it. Thanks.

  24. Vasiliy
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Hi again.
    While pomodoro is running there is no possibility to change Skype status message. If I edit it – the message reverts back to the one CT set.
    I assume there is an infinite loop (or something like it) which requests Skype two often – as the result high CPU usage.
    No?

  25. Kristian
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Yes, it sets the status with every poll (4 times per second). I have changed it to only change when there is actually a new text (i.e. once per minute).

    I am trying to fix the shut-down bug and I will release an update soon.

  26. Vasiliy
    Posted July 20, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Nice news!

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