A closer look at Reminders in Timelines

One of the biggest hurdles with using time tracking software is to always remember to start and stop timers. I think I speak for the most of us when I say that it's very easy to forget. And when you do, it can be tricky to remember when did the given activity ended/started.

It's no wonder that Reminders were one of the most requested features in Timelines. When deciding what to build for version 1.3, Reminders were the logical choice.

In this post, I will walk you through some of the reasoning behind them and also provide tips on how to reap their benefits.

Main features of reminders

The whole process of coming up with the logic for reminders and then implementing them was based on several core principles. In the end, Reminders in Timelines are:

1. Highly customizable

While you'll get sensible defaults out of the box, you can set each reminder condition and time exactly the way you want. Here are the settings that you can specify:

  • which days of the week you want to be notified
  • at which times of the day

And you can choose if you want to be notified when..

  • timer isn't started by the time the day starts
  • timer is still active when day ends
  • timer wasn't active for certain amount of time
  • timer was active for a certain amount of time
  • ↳ adjust the time in previous two items

You can also specify if you want the reminders to be repeated, and how often

Here is what the Reminder settings screen looks like:

Timelines Reminders Settings

2. Actionable

I wanted reminders to really simplify the way you interact with Timelines. That's why I opted in for custom notification action, which means that you can act on each reminder directly in the notification itself.

For active timers, that means that you can Stop timer, which will just stop the timer without opening the application. This works even from the lock screen.

Timelines Reminders Timelines Reminders

For reminders to start tracking, the notification action Start a timer will take you directly to timelines list inside of the application, where you can start a specific timer.

3. Easy to mute

There are days and occasions when you just don't want to be distracted. So, the ability to temporarily mute Reminders was a must. But, I also wanted to make it really easy to do so, exactly for those situations when it's really inappropriate for you to be on your phone.
You can quickly mute all reminders for one day directly in the notification, using a Mute for today notification action. If later in the day you want them to work again, you can manually un-mute them in Reminders settings.

4. No need to micro-manage

You'll probably agree with me that the Notification Center tends to get clogged up with notifications that are no longer relevant. With Reminders, I wanted to avoid that. That's why Timelines removes both pending and delivered notifications as soon as their condition is not valid anymore. It keeps your notification center history clean without having to manually manage it (or, at least it doesn't contribute to the clutter from other apps).

Timelines Reminders notification center

5. Reliable

I always strive to make each feature in Timelines 100% reliable. For Reminders specifically, that meant quite a lot of extra work and testing (which is one of the reasons why update 1.3 is coming out now with this bigger gap from 1.2). Nevertheless, I am absolutely sure it was worth it.

Tips on using reminders

I'd suggest not to be afraid to experiment. It can take a few days before you get to the perfect settings that fit your use case.

At the beginning, try making the settings more conservative, so you are not suddenly bombarded with tons of notifications throughout the day.

And in case you are already used to remembering to start and stop timers, maybe consider not using reminders at all - to avoid the cost of distraction. Or just use the evening setting, which can be a useful nudge that it's time to go to bed.

Also, whenever you receive a notification and you feel like it did more harm (in terms of distracting you) than good, don't hesitate to just mute them for the day.

I hope you will enjoy using Reminders as much as I enjoyed building them. If you have any kind of feedback or question, please get in touch with me at lukas@timelinesapp.io.