There are plenty of time-tracking apps for Mac that automatically log the hours you’ve spent signed-in. Some even offer granular data, telling you how much time you spent on a particular app. A new app called Balance is taking a slightly different approach to timekeeping, allowing users to manually punch in and punch out the time they are spending in front of a screen.
Balance hopes to help users build a set of healthy work habits rather than get granular data about their productivity. It won’t tell you long you had Slack, Microsoft Teams, Chrome or any other application open on your machine, but will offer general insights into your overall usage of the system and time spent in various sessions in a week.
To make this system work, Balance sends you a reminder if your machine has been on for more than five minutes but you have not clocked in. Clocking out is simple, too, just lock your Mac. Sadly, if your system goes to sleep, Balance doesn’t register a clock-out.
As there is no automatic tracking, the app can’t understand if you have taken a break even when you step away from the computer. So it will remind you to take a break after 60 minutes. You can easily fine-tune such settings as per your convenience.
Balance also offers you a Pomodoro timer (25 minutes on and 5 minutes off) through the Focus mode menu. The app lives in the menu bar of your Mac, so you can quickly access all the options. It shows the active time of the current session by default, but you can change it to the total session duration including breaks or time since the last break was taken.
Alexander Sandberg, the developer of Balance, says he built the app because he wanted a timekeeper that understands work-life balance. Working from home he often sat in front of his system way past his work hours, he told TechCrunch in an interview, and that’s when he thought of building Balance.
“I chose a manual clocking system for Balance because I believe it helps with creating a ‘ritual’ for checking in and out of work. Especially when working from home, it’s important to have something that helps you differentiate work time and non-work time. For instance, I’ve heard about people who go for a short walk to and from ‘the office’ at the beginning and at the end of the work days, even though their office is at home. This is to help the mind and body differentiate between life and work,” he told TechCrunch in an email.
While Balance is good for building the habit of clocking in and out, it could take a bit of time in getting used to. You might have many sessions that you forget to start or end. So you can end up with false positives on both ends.
Balance is available for free for everyone with the Pro version costing $2.49 a month (or $24.99 a year) as an introductory price. Paying customers will get features like session history with trends data. Balance also gives users an 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 said he’s building more pro features like a better session history overview with month and year; categorization and labeling of sessions; and app and website blocking to help users focus more.