A concept for a product that helps you improve your work environment

Christoph Labacher
May 31, 2015 · 5 min read
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Removing the urge to distract oneself

I recently started a little self experiment. I noticed two things: First, whenever I was working on something and I was stuck for a moment I became frustrated and decided to let my thoughts drift for a bit — and i’d always end up scrolling through my facebook stream for a couple of minutes. Secondly, I didn’t care about any of the stuff I read. What I read didn’t bother me and wasn’t interesting, and yet I came back ever so often, simply out of habit. I started getting annoyed by myself: This habit often broke my workflow and let my concentration slip when I would have needed it the most.

Introducing Zen-Mode

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A natural language interface gives unintrusive feedback. The wording is chosen to be personal and fun but not annoying.

Feedback for the user

Giving the user feedback was actually something that we thought very hard about. We didn’t want our product to be another distraction keeping the user from focusing on his work. Plus, we didn’t want to built up anxiety by being giving to much information: A graph showing how concentrated you have been during the last hour probably wouldn’t help you feel comfortable and relaxed.

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Apps, Websites and Notifications can be easily blocked.


The second feature we wanted our application to have is basically an easy way to do the same things that I described in the introduction: Block of the things that you know will distract you or that you know you will use to distract yourself. With Zen-Mode you can block websites from being loaded and apps from sending you notifications or being started at all. Of course as soons as you go out of the “Zen-Mode” you can access everything as you are used to. Adding and removing elements from you block-list is quick and easy, so adapting Zen-Mode to your current needs isn’t a hussle.

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Blocked apps and websites can still be accessed — but a confirmation is necessary.


Zen-Mode was created by Julia Konrad, Miguel Pawlowski and Christoph Labacher during a one-week workshop by Dr. Venere Ferraro in early summer 2015.

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