I've been thinking about how focus and getting ourselves into "flow" states can lead to amazing productivity. However, this can be challenging since we live in a world with lots of (interesting) distractions that are easily accessible. I've also been inspired by how Olympic athletes are able to excel at the highest levels. Sure, they work really hard. But they also take lots of breaks to allow their bodies and minds to recover, to gain strength, and to avoid injuries/burnout.

What it does

A secret to productivity is to be smart about taking breaks. :) This Microsoft Office 365 Add-In puts a handy timer in the "Task Pane" for Excel, Word, etc. that encourages people to get into the zone for a task for a user-configurable number of minutes -- and then to go on break! When the user presses "GO!", a cool-looking timer starts counting down right in the Task Pane. When time's up, the user can go on break! The idea is that while the timer is still running, the user should put lots of focus on accomplishing their task.

How I built it

This is the first time I've used the Napa Office 365 Development Tools. First, I had to understand the different types of add-ins I could build. I checked out some Microsoft-provided code examples, and then chose the type that seemed most relevant for my idea. I liked that I could build the Office Add-In prototypes using a web browser without having to download anything, and could do that on either Mac or Windows! After that, I tried some prototypes for showing timers & alerts using regular HTML/Javascript, with the help of the FlipClock.js library. Once I was satisfied with the basic user experience, I integrated my code into the Napa Office 365 environment to set up the Add-In, did some more testing, and fixed some small bugs.

Challenges I ran into

Overall, I thought that Microsoft provided a relatively easy-to-understand experience for developers new to this specific environment. Again, I was glad that I could use common programming languages (HTML/JS) and include external libraries without a lot of overhead. One issue I ran into was that I wanted to issue a Javascript pop-up alert when the timer was up (in addition to an audio alert). The pop up worked fine outside the Office Task Pane environment, but I could not get this to trigger from within the Task Pane (this is probably by design). Also, I ran into small issues reloading and sharing the Add-In code (had to reset browser a few times to resolve them).

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

I didn't start this project very early, and was not sure whether I'd submit anything. But I did. :)

What I learned

I learned about the current state of the art of developing Add-in tools for Microsoft Office 365. Also am looking forward to seeing what other folks come up with to help everyone get more productive (so we can have more free time haha).

What's next for Get a Break

I'm taking a break after submitting this project. :)

Share this project: