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What’s changed? In The Zone – The Productivity Tool

Aug 16th Release:

The new tab has gone through significant changes time and again over the last couple of months. You’re probably wondering, “Why is the development team making drastic changes again and again? Some of those changes don’t even serve my need.”

We hear your concern. The reason why we subject the tool to rapid changes is that productivity is deeply subjective, where each person has a different style of working. Though our user base is small at the moment, our users span across various categories such as students, IT professionals, and entrepreneurs.

Our intention with the frequent changes was to make the tool suitable for our varied userbase. But, the more we talk to our users, the more we’ve realized that there is no one fit for all.

Therefore, we have allowed your new tab to be customized however you see best. You’re the captain of the ship that is heading towards dreams, therefore, you need the control to steer it in the direction of your choice. Your life, your rules. We’re just trying to build the right ship which can help you reach your destination faster.

In this release, you have the option to customize your new tab. Because Chrome controls when the new release is rolled out onto your browser, so it might take up a few days for the changes to reflect on your computer. If you want the changes right now, please follow the instructions at the bottom.

On the left hand side of your new tab, you’ll notice a gear icon that allows you to customize your new tab.

When you click on it, the menu will allow you to choose among the following settings:

  • Minimalistic version:
    • This version will only display the most used 3 features – Tasks, Focus Timer, and Distraction Blocking
  • Advanced version:
    • If you like your new tab to have a wide variety of options, pick the advanced version. Under this setting you can further control what you’d like to see on the new tab
    • Daily Productivity Plan: A guideline to make every single day productive. It allows you to pick any of the 3 modes based on where you are on your productivity journey – Starter, Competent, Advanced
    • Browsing Statistics: Not sure how long you spent on Youtube? Let the tool you. (FYI be prepared to be shell shocked to know how much time you waste each day)
    • Today’s Progress: A progress view of your daily tasks to give you a dopamine rush and get things done
    • Buttons for all features: Different buttons which allow you to quickly access any feature of the tool from the new tab(all these features are also accessible from the right side sticky icon)
  • Mimic Chrome new tab: If you have an allergy to extensions that modify the new tab, feel free to revert to the original chrome new tab. Choosing this option will prevent you from accessing the tool on the new tab entirely. You will have to use the right side sticky icon on any site you visit.
  • A blank white page: A blank page for the minimalism lovers

In addition, you can control other components on your new tab:

  • Show Google Search Bar: Since the address bar works as Google search, adding another search bar within the new tab seems redundant. But the original Chrome new tab has it and some users prefer it that way.
  • Show Frequently Visited Websites: If you’re lazy to type the first few alphabets of your favorite website, click it from the new tab(yet another replication of the original Chrome new tab)
  • Show A Motivational Quote: For those who prefer a motivational quote instead of a cup of coffee to get into the groove of doing things.

Aug 4th Release:

All social media platforms are designed to keep your attention as long as possible and bring you back to their website again and again. After all, the longer people use their platform, the more money they make. These addictive parts of social media are called hooks. For example, Facebook has a newsfeed, Instagram shows you who has viewed your story, YouTube shows related videos tailored to your interest.

All in all, these hooks make them addictive. It’s not you, it’s them.

That’s why we’ve announced a war on social media. If social media can get you hooked, In The Zone can get you unhooked. Errhm, well, that wasn’t grammatically perfect, but you get the point.

In the Zone now allows you to block specific sections of social media websites. That’s because not every part of social media browsing is unproductive. You might want to watch one Youtube video that your friend emailed you, check your Twitter messages, or browse through the newsfeed of Facebook groups. But once you’re in there, your click on one item, then one more. And again. One thing leads to another, and before you know 30 minutes have whizzed by.

To avoid such temptation, you can now block specific sections of social websites which are addictive to you. As a trial run, we’ve rolled this out to Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter. Please note: this feature is experimental. So, if you encounter any errors, please send us your feedback here.

Youtube Selective Blocking:

On Youtube, you can block one or all of the following:

  • Recommendations on the homepage
    • Stop the homepage from showing videos of your interest
  • Related videos on the right side when a video is playing
    • No more clicking on ‘just one more video’ on the right
  • Comments section
    • You should respect freedom of speech, but not to the extent of reading 532 comments with replies
  • Search results
    • Can’t resist searching for funny videos? Let the app do it for you.

Facebook selective blocking:

On Facebook, you can block one or all of the following:

  • Newsfeed on Homepage
    • No more scrolling to infinity till the end of eternity
  • Newsfeed on entire website(Homepage, Groups, Pages, Profiles)
    • Stay away from the chitter chatter that happens on all groups, some of which you receive a notification for
  • Stories
    • We’ve had way too many stories everywhere. How about being productive and making your own legendary story instead?

Twitter Selective Blocking:

On Twitter, you can block one or all of the following:

  • Newsfeed on the homepage
  • Trending hashtags
  • The explore section

Other Changes:

The new tab has been cleansed and simplified. We received feedback from our users that the new tab was overwhelming. So, we’ve decided to emphasize only the big 3 on the new tab:

  • Tasks
  • Focus Timer
  • Distraction Blocking

For those who used the other features regularly, you can access them from the right sticky Z icon.

July 29th Release:

Productive Alternatives To Distracted Browsing:

Do you browse distraction websites because you don’t know what else to do? The app now recommends you a productive alternative instead of wasting time on unproductive websites. Boo, social media!

These suggestions will help you get things done or add value to some aspect of your personal or professional life.

Two examples below:

Other changes:

  • Custom Focus Timer Timing: You can now choose a custom time and start a Focus Timer if you like.
  • Fixed a bug where the alert for the time spent on a distraction website was not visible within the screen’s viewport

July 22nd Release:

Improved Distraction Blocking:

Distraction blocking now allows you to limit the total time spent on distraction websites. This feature is built to help you avoid snoozing endlessly.

  • Distraction blocking settings now has with a daily distraction limit
  • The default value is set to 30 min and the time left is shown in the menu
  • Until the 30 minutes are consumed, you’re allowed to snooze in short blocks of 2 min, 5 min, etc
  • Once the time limit is reached, you can no longer snooze and access a distraction website temporarily. You can add more time if required(but I hope you don’t)
  • The limit is customizable under distraction blocking(reducing the value is awesome for your productivity, but increasing it… not quite so)
  • If you do not want to limit the amount of unproductive browsing and keep using distraction websites to your heart’s glory, you can disable the distraction limit entirely(yet again, I hope you don’t commit that deadly productivity sin)

Lock After Limit – For those who are prone to distractions:

If you’re vulnerable to browsing distractions and cannot resist the urge to open them to satisfy your itchy palm, don’t worry. We have you covered.

On distraction blocking settings, you’ll find an option called ‘Lock After Limit’. If you turn that on, you can no longer access distracting websites on that day. If you think, you’ll remove the sites from the distraction list, or change the block timings, I have bad news for you. If ‘Lock After Limit’ is turned on, after reaching the limit, the distraction blocking settings will no longer be accessible until the next day. You can escape from the Alcatraz prison, but not from this mode.

This feature is specifically designed for people who cannot resist the temptation of distracted browsing. So instead of fighting the urge to snooze for a few minutes, the app eliminates the option to snooze itself.

By the way, this feature isn’t for the fickle-minded. So, please use this with caution, because once the limit is reached, there is no going back.

Music for flow state:

The app now has links to music which helps you get into the flow state. Though the research on isochronic and binaural beats is inconclusive at the moment, studies have shown possible improvement and people have claimed to experience the benefits.

To access flow state music, click on the ‘Music For Flow State’ on your new tab. Please consult your doctor before using this feature if you’re suffering from ADHD, stress, anxiety, or other complications.

Please note that it takes practice and experimentation to find the right music which improves your concentration. So, play around until you find what works for us. Use different tones and also alter the volume to your comfort.

Other Changes:

  • Several design changes made in the user interface on the new tab and on different menus

July 11th Release:

Focus is now rebranded to ‘In The Zone’

The design has gone through a revamp for better usability.

As soon as your extension is updated, you’ll see a screen which shows ‘The Zone’ locked.

To unlock and enter ‘The Zone’, you’ll have to follow a series of sophisticated steps, so please pay close attention as you read the instructions ahead.

How to unlock and enter The Zone:

Do you see the button which mentions ‘Click To Enter’? Click on it and you’ll enter ‘The Zone’.

That’s it.

Your new tab is now ‘The Zone’ and when you enter it, you’re in the zone.

The whole purpose of all the features there is to help you get into the zone and get things done.

The design has gone through various changes and listing them all is both a waste of your reading time and my writing time. Please experience the new interface for yourself and let us know your feedback.

Other changes done:

  • The day now resets at 12 AM as per your system clock
  • Pomodoro clock defaults to the last chosen value
  • Fixed a problem in learnings display
  • The distraction blocker also shows the time already spent on the site

July 4th Release:

Introducing daily productivity plans to helps you get things done. This feature has been introduced to provide direction on ways to improve your productivity. The purpose of these plans is to help you form daily productive habits.

Daily Productivity Plans:

You have 3 options to choose from:

Each of these have targets to complete each day. If you follow this schedule, you will see an improvement in your productivity.

You will also notice a progress tracker for the day on your new tab.

Clicking on it will show your progress for the day and allow you to take action on pending items.

Other changes:

  • Websites like Youtube, Amazon prime, Netflix, Vimeo and other websites were not calculating the time spent accurately when the video was on without any other action on the mouse/keyboard
  • Design changes on the new tab to highlight features
  • The quote has been moved to a different location within the new tab.

June 26th Release:

This update is significant. Wohoo.

Daily journal and learnings:

The app now allows you to maintain a daily journal and note down your daily achievements and mistakes. The entries are saved and can be viewed anytime by using the corresponding buttons in both these features. These two features were implemented based on user feedback submitted.

You can access both these features using the ‘Daily Summary’ feature in the new tab.

The right sticky menu is back:

The sticky F icon on the right was removed recently. It has now been added back with a different user interface to use the tool. Instead of the menu showing up on hover, it now shows up on click. You can drag the icon to an appropriate spot too if you like.

Added learning material:

  • On the app, you’ll now find short ebooks which help you improve your productivity
  • You can access this library by clicking on learning material in the new tab
  • The section contains 8 books for now, but more content will be added regularly based on user usage

Organized previous tasks:

  • Users told us that the previous tasks contained a large list which was too long to digest. Therefore, we have grouped the tasks by date and showed the status of each day.

Youtube distraction blocking works differently:

  • When users chooses to use Youtube for a temporary duration, say 2 or 5 min, they tend to continue browsing with added distraction time. The users we spoke to mentioned that it is because they’re between a video and want to finish it. By the time the video is over, the unproductive session has time left, so they want another video leading to a large time wasted.
  • Now, when the unproductive session timer runs out, the app waits until you finish the video before showing the distraction blocking menu again
  • If you change to another video or switch tabs after the timer has run out, the menu will show up again

Refined Browsing Stats:

Browsing stats now shows the top 3 productive and unproductive sites for easier understanding. The list for all browsing statistics shows up as usual with the option to mark a website productive or unproductive

Other changes:

  • Productivity nudges have been subdued. You’ll receive only a few nudges in a day based on your usage. We received user feedback that the nudges were intrusive to browsing.
  • Removed the option to mark a nudge as helpful
  • Fixed a bug where the frequently used website list on new tab had their icons missing
  • Pomodoro timer has been renamed to Focus timer because many users were unfamiliar with the Pomodoro technique
  • Fixed a bug where Pomodoro mins completed on new tab was showing erroneous values
  • Removed the option to allow a website temporarily for 8 hours. This seemed to be overused by users as a workaround to allow distractions.
  • When you click on ‘I need more time’ on the distraction blocking menu, the default value is now 10 min. We noticed that users go with the default, so the value has been cut down by 5 mins to help save your time.

June 21st Release:

Mindful browsing with time spent notification:

  • The app now notifies you about your browsing time on a distraction website. This is to make you aware of the time you’ve spent on unproductive browsing.

Marking a website as a distraction:

  • The app now makes it easy to mark a website as distraction. Whenever you browse a website for more than a specific duration in a day, you’ll be asked if the website is a distraction.
  • The default time for both these notifications is 15 min, but you can change it to a duration of your choice under distraction blocking settings in your new tab. If you don’t want these notifications, you can turn them off.

Other Changes:

  • In the new tab, the Pomodoro section now shows minutes completed instead of the total number of pomodoros completed
  • Fixed a bug where the clock would reset at 2:03 AM instead of 4 AM
  • Fixed a bug where the app would load incorrectly on some websites intermittently
  • Fixed the ‘Move To Today’ design misalignment under previous tasks

June 14th Release:

Improved Productivity Nudges:

  • Productivity nudges are now customized to your behavior. They take into account your browsing habits and usage of the app Focus to prompt you with useful ideas to improve your productivity.
  • The new nudges encourage you to
    • Spend time learning something new
    • Identify your top distraction triggers
    • Spend time thinking
    • Think about your achievements and mistakes
    • Mark promotional email as spam
    • And many more
  • If you had turned off nudges, I encourage you to turn them on again to check if they help you

Browsing Stats Changes:

  • When you view your browsing stats, you can mark a website as productive/unproductive using just one click
  • Marking a site as unproductive will add it to the list of distraction website and vice versa
  • You can use this to mark websites that waste your time to your distraction blocking
  • Shows total browsing time that was productively or unproductive

Distraction Blocking Changes:

  • Once you allow temporary distractions, you now have two options shown on the right
    • End Session: This terminates the distraction session to avoid spending more time on unproductive times than necessary. If this option is clicked from a distraction website, the tab is closed too.
    • Focus mode: This terminates the distraction session and closes all open tabs which have any of the websites under distraction blocking open.
  • The menu of distraction blocking shows the time wasted already in a more prominent design
  • The menu of distraction blocking shows wasted time in hours and minutes(earlier it was only min)

Other changes:

  • Pomodoro has a ‘Forfeit’ button for easier usage(earlier it worked on clicking the Pomodoro timer)
  • Tasks now have a delete feature to remove any unintended or erroneous tasks added

June 7th Release:

Introducing Productivity Nudges:

  • The app now nudges you periodically to make yourself productive
  • The nudges are of different kind such as productivity pledges to motivate you, reminders to add tasks, and an interesting daily challenge to complete
  • If you don’t find a particular nudge useful, mark them with a thumbs down and we’ll consider your input for the next update
  • If you don’t want the beep with the nudge or if you want to disable nudges, you can do so in the nudge settings. It shows up as the gear icon on every nudge as well as on the new tab.

Distraction Blocking Changes:

  • Distraction blocking now has more options
  • You can manually set the minutes you need instead of having to choose between the two options 2min and 5 min
  • You can also allow a particular website for 8 hours(Some users need this work purposes)

Task Tab Changes:

  • Tasks are now editable after adding
  • Mark complete now works only when clicked on the tick mark. Earlier clicking on a task would complete it.
  • Design changes to accomodate more tasks in one views and change it font size for crisp display

Other Changes:

  • Added best practices for Pomodoros and Adding Tasks. These are guidelines to consider while using these two features. Feel free to make your own rules too.
  • The sticky F icon on the right has been removed. This change is temporary to measure change in user behavior. Also, we’re working on a different menu design.
  • Tab control feature has been removed due to low usage
  • The app had a massive code change which changed the way it was fundamentally implemented. This will correct all of the design inconsistencies you noticed on different websites.

Errors Fixed:

  • Fixed inconsistencies in browsing stats where the numbers were captured incorrectly
  • Fixed a bug where websites with long names were appearing misaligned

May 26th Release:

You can customize the tasks feature as per your needs:

  • Earlier your task list would clear everyday and start fresh. From now on, you can choose to use the task list like your To-Do list if you like
  • In the tasks feature, you will find a checkbox which says ‘Only Show Today’s Tasks‘. Checking that option will change your list into a daily list of tasks to focus on. If you uncheck that option, your list of tasks will operate like a to-do list and will remain there until you complete.
  • By default, your list of tasks will operate as a to-do list. If you want it to operate like the earlier version, please check the ‘Only Show Today’s Tasks’ checkbox
  • To avoid showing all your old tasks, the list will only show pending tasks since May 22nd

Bugs Fixed:

  • Fixed the following bugs on the Pomodoro timer: counter updating incorrectly when multiple tabs were open, timing getting stuck at 00:01, the start/stop pause buttons not showing even after the Pomodoro was completed.
  • The draggable Pomdoro timer, unproductive session timer and the Focus right side menu is limited to within the viewable limit
  • Fixed a bug in the distraction blocking settings where blocking a subdomain would block the main domain too
  • Fixed a bug where distraction blocking menu was preventing scroll on some websites
  • Fixed a bug where the distraction blocking on concurrent open tabs was behaving incorrectly
  • Fixed an intermittent bug in browsing statistics where closing a website before switching between tabs or moving to a different application was not captured accurately

Other changes:

  • The new tab nudges you every two hours to take a look at your list of tasks

May 17th Release:

New Tab Updates:

  • The new tab now shows your browsing statistics for the day
    • It tells you how much of your browsing was productive/unproductive. The calculation is based on the websites present in the distraction blocking settings. Please note that the tool doesn’t capture your browsing details on any servers. All your browsing details are private and only stored locally on your machine.
    • Clicking on the browsing statistics section on your new tab shows you the site-wise breakdown of your browsing for the day.
  • The new tab shows the number of hours elapsed since you started the day. The clock resets at 4 AM each morning. The tool doesn’t use 12 AM as a new day because some of our users work late beyond midnight.
    • The purpose of this feature is to build awareness of how much of your day is already behind you. You can use the time left to adjust the rest of your day accordingly.
  • The new tab now lists your top sites mimicking the usual chrome behavior(The icons are experimental and some of them could be missing)

Improvements Made:

  • The Pomodoro timer now reflects on all tabs. Once you start a Pomodoro timer, any tab you visit will show the ongoing timer. The timer block is draggable on the y-axis. So, you can move it to a location you find convenient
  • The distraction blocking timer is draggable on the y-axis. You can move it to a location you find convenient.

Errors Fixed:

  • Fixed an intermittent bug where the Pomodoro timer failed to make a beep sound on completion
  • Fixed a bug where distraction blocking caused the website to scroll to the top
  • Fixed a bug on ‘Make Everyday Super Productive Tab’. The button ‘Aim for 6 Pomodoro slots of 25 min’ now opens the Pomodoro timer on click.
  • Removed the nonactionable button ‘List Your Achievements and Mistakes For The Day’ on ‘Make Everyday Super Productive’ Tab. This is an upcoming feature. The button will be added once the feature is ready.

May 12th Release:

New Tab Updates:

  • Focus now shows a progress bar on the new tab. When you add tasks, it shows you how many tasks are complete along with a percentage completion.
  • You receive a productivity nudge every two hours from the time you open your browser. This is to remind you about your tasks for the day and get things done.

Errors Fixed:

  • Any tasks added or Pomodoros started are reflected immediately on the new tab. Earlier, it required a refresh.
  • Fixed a bug where a new tab was not recognising a new day on the first load
  • The tool sends a usage guide email during sign up. You can view it here:

Improvements Made:

  • The notification which mentions the number of tabs open is above the threshold is now clickable and opens up the Tab Control settings
  • When you change the duration of the Pomodoro timer the countdown starts immediately without needing another click on ‘Start Clock’
  • The Pomodoro tab now has ‘Back To Tasks’ to allow easy switching back to the Tasks tab
  • The Pomodoro beep tone is changed to an alarm beep. The earlier sound was too loud for users.
  • Removed the motivational quote on the bottom of the page to save space. The decision was made because the benefit of the quote was unclear and unmeasurable.

May 5th Release:

Focus now takes control of your new tab:

  • Reminds you to set tasks for the day to make you productive
  • Tells you how of the tasks set are complete/incomplete
  • Allows you to set Pomodoros
  • Displays if your distraction blocking/tab blocking is on/off

Erors Fixed:

  • Fixed an error on the distraction blogging settings where a new website added wasn’t being blocked properly. You can now copy-paste URLs and the whole website will be blocked.
  • Fixed an error where using a blocked site for a few minutes using ‘Just 2 min please’ or Pomodoro breaks caused problems to the page scroll
  • Fixed a bug where the motivational quote at the bottom of a new tab was showing undefined

Other changes:

  • Using any feature does not cause the page to scroll to top
  • On ‘Tab control’, moving the mouse over current open tabs highlights the tab and allows click on the entire row to switch to the clicked tab
  • New tab now shows your name for relevant text
  • The menu which pops up on any blocked site allows 2 min and 5 min access with the appropriate naming(Pomodoro break buttons are removed)
  • The notification which shows the number of open tabs above the threshold is now moved lower. This was done to avoid it from covering any menu links on different websites.

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