There are many things I like about Mac, but most of all, I like its abundant community of programming enthusiasts, who repeatedly manage to beat Apple at their own game and create genuinely spectacular apps. Sometimes they are free, and sometimes they require a little extra from you — like Balance, which aims to replace all time-tracking apps that came before it.
A noble and ambitious goal. And the idea behind it is simple — instead of everything being automatic, Balance requires you to punch in when you start working and punch out when you’re done.
If that sounds a bit too responsible for you (I don’t judge — I have the same problem), Balance might not be for you. It’s okay not to aim to please everyone, and I respect Balance for that.
Balance exists mainly as a way to build healthy habits and become more productive. Data is good, but what will you do with all that data? Experience tells me, not much. But Balance requires you to be present during the whole process and diligently record when you start and finish working, thus becoming your harshest critic.
It helps, of course. If your computer is on, but you haven’t yet clocked in, the app reminds you to do so. After an hour of work (or “work,” as it happens), it reminds you to take a small break. And when it asks you to take a break from an impromptu break, it makes you feel bad for procrastinating. There’s no berating, but constant reminders are helpful. Not only for the lazy but also for those who constantly overwork.
The app integrates into the menu bar beautifully, silently showing how much time you have dedicated to being productive. It has a built-in Pomodoro timer, too.
The good news is that the app is free, not counting a few features hidden behind a subscription. None of them are essential, but the app does not have a lifetime purchase which is a shame. $24.99 a year is not a small price. Alexander Sandberg, the app’s creator, plans to add a lot more features, most of which, I suspect, are for the paid trier. Among them is the addition of goals, improved history, filters, and even a mobile app.
Balance is not a revolutionary app, but it has an idea and a good execution. Its developer is passionate and ambitious, and I am excited to see what he adds next. As for now, if you’re looking for a new way to boost your productivity, Balance just might be what you need.