Welcome to our Hack the North 2020++ submission! Over the weekend, our team has developed a Google Chrome Extension called “Chill Pill”.
As co-op students working remotely, we have all experienced the struggle of balancing our personal lives with our work schedules. After speaking with our coworkers, we realize that the shift to remote work during the pandemic has taken a toll on all of us. The physical separation between work and personal time is becoming more blurred than ever, and as a result, it is a whole lot easier to overwork yourself and cause burnout.
What it does
Our mission is to bring you a simple tool that brings back the barrier between work and home, hopefully bringing back some sense of normality. This is done through transforming your current Chrome window into a refreshing and mood boosting widget. It provides a relaxing Spotify playlist and a calming Youtube Video to help you unwind and breathe. Users can set the amount of time they want to work before taking a break, as well as the duration of their break. Our app defaults to the pomodoro time settings: 20 minutes work, 5 minutes break. More details and a demo are included in our video.
How we built it
Challenges we ran into
Our main challenge was deciding which features we'd like to see as users. For example, our first iteration of the extention blocked all sites except for our widget during each break session. This was with the goal of preventing the user from accessing all sites, resulting in a complete "unplug" of sorts.
However, after further consideration, we thought that we'd prefer it if the approach was in the form of a gentle reminder instead of a full block. Additionally, some users prefer to take a break on YouTube or Instagram. While this might not be as ideal as completely unplugging, it is still a valid preference.
As a result, we changed our extention to have alerts whenever the user navigates away from our widget. This was less aggressive and helped us achieve our goal of honouring each user's unique preferences.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
While our extension is simple, we're really proud of the smooth transitions and how well it functions. We believe there is beauty in simplicity, and the minimalist UI is proof of that. Additionally, this solves a genuine pain point for all of us, so we're really proud that we created something that we will continue to useafter the hackathon is over.
What I learned
Jing Yi: Personally, I learned a lot about how to work effectively in a team (ie. delegating tasks, brainstorming ideas, etc.) and how Google's Chrome Extensions API works. The Chrome Extensions API is extremely powerful and I'm excited to see how it can be applied in my future projects!
What's next for Chill Pill
While we accomplished a lot during this short period of time, there's still a long way to go for Chill Pill. We focused mainly on delivering simple functionality in a minimalist UI, but we'd love to extend our project's customizability.
For example, we only have support for one time limit currently, but it'd be nice to add support for multiple time limits (ie. after 4 25 minute pomodoro intervals, 1 long break for 15 minutes). Additionally, we'd like to introduce support for different themes, as well as allowing users to share their break sessions with friends and coworkers over social media.
We think these next steps will help make our extension more accessible for everyone, normalize taking breaks, and spark conversations surrounding work-life balance.
Thank you for reading and we hope to see you trying our product! :)
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