There are many time-tracking apps for Mac that automatically record the number of hours you’ve used to log in. Some even provide detailed data, showing you how much time you’ve spent on a particular app. A new app called BALANCE is taking a slightly different approach to timekeeping, allowing users to manually enter and display the time they are spending in front of the screen.
Balance hopes to help users build a set of healthy work habits instead of getting detailed data on their productivity. It won’t tell you how long you’ve had Slack, Microsoft Teams, Chrome, or any other app open on your machine, but will provide general insight into your overall system usage and time spent on different sessions in a week.
To make this system work, Balance will send you a reminder if your machine has been on for more than five minutes but you haven’t timed it in. Timed out is also simple, just lock your Mac. Unfortunately, if your system goes to sleep, the Balance will not register to time out.
Since there’s no automatic tracking, the app can’t understand if you take a break even when you’re away from your computer. So it will remind you to take a break after 60 minutes. You can easily tweak those settings according to your convenience.
BALANCE also gives you a Pomodoro timer (25 minutes on and 5 minutes off) via the Focus Mode menu. The app lives in your Mac’s menu bar, so you can quickly access all the options. It shows the current session uptime by default, but you can change it to the total session duration including the break, or the time since the last break taken.
Alexander Sandberg, the developer of Balance, says he built the app because he wanted a timekeeper that understands work-life balance. He told TechCrunch in an interview that while working from home, he often sits in front of his system after work, and that’s when he thinks about building Balance.
“I chose the manual chronograph system for Balance because I believe it helps create a ‘ritual’ for checking in and out of work. Especially when working from home, it’s important to have something that helps you distinguish work time from non-work time. For example, I have heard of people walking a short distance to and from the ‘office’ at the beginning and end of the workday, even though their office is at home. This helps the mind and body differentiate between life and work,” he told TechCrunch in an email.
While Balance is great for building the habit of chronographing in and out, it can take a while to get used to. You may have multiple sessions that you forget to start or end. So you could end up with false positives on both ends.
Balance is available for free to everyone with the Pro version having an introductory price of $2.49 a month (or $24.99 a year). Paying customers will get features like session history with trending data. Balance also gives users the option to export their logs if they want to stop using the app or just want to analyze their data in a different way.
Sandberg says he’s building more pro features like better session history overview by month and year; categorize and label sessions; and block apps and websites to help users focus more.