Improving Focus and Minimizing Distractions

Optimize your day for deep work

In this chapter, we will show you how to leverage your data to understand how you can optimize your day for periods of uninterrupted time to focus on work:
  1. Understanding Sessions
  2. Defining Focus Categories
  3. Identifying Interrupters
  4. Visualizing Interruptions

Understanding Sessions

Sessions are blocks of time throughout your day that Rize auto-detects as important. They are either meetings or time you spent focusing on work. Your dashboard shows you all of your sessions chronologically in the "Sessions" section.
The colors on the left side indicate whether you spent that time in a meeting (pink) or focusing on work (blue). Your dashboard also represents the same sessions in your timeline as small horizontal bars underneath your tracked time. For the purposes of this section, we will only concentrate on the focus sessions.
Focus is defined as time spent (longer than 15 minutes) on categories that are considered focus categories. You can change what these are in your settings. See the Tweaking Focus Categories section.
Shown above, a single work row consists of multiple parts. Starting from the left they are as follows:
  • Start time - when you started focusing on work. All sessions are sorted chronologically based on this value.
  • Category - the detected time category (or categories) you focused on during the session. This can be any category that is not excluded from focus time in your settings.
  • Duration - how long the session lasted. We determine the duration based on the absence of breaks or unfocused work longer than a period of 4 minutes.
  • Focus percentage - the percent of the duration you spent on categories that are considered focus work. This is a good heuristic for how focused you were during the session.
  • Defining Focus Categories

    By default, all categories in Rize are considered focus categories with the exception of Email, Messaging, Entertainment, Personal, Uncategorized, and Miscellaneous.
    In some situations, you might want to have some of these categories considered as focus work and others as not. For instance, if you are a venture capitalist and need to allocate time in your day to be strictly focused on emails and track that time as focus time, you can go to your General Settings page to remove "Email" from being excluded from focus detection.
    By keeping categories considered focus work by default, we can avoid the burden of having to manually add a category every time you create a new one.

    Identifying Interrupters

    There are two primary ways to find how you are getting distracted throughout your day. The first way is to simply review your sessions, and identify any sessions that have a low focus percentage.
    In the example above, we see that our "Code" session only has a 79% focus percentage. This means that of the 1 hour we spend trying to work on code, we spent around 13 minutes (21%) of that time on potential distractions. This is a considerable amount!
    To view distractions, click on the session row, then click on "View details" to see more information on the session.
    The "Top Interrupters" section will list the top apps and websites that are not considered focus time with the app or website with the most amount of time at the top. In the example below, you can see that Slack distracted us for a total of 5 minutes.
    Using these insights can help you make actionable change. In this instance, you can use Slack's "Do Not Disturb" feature to make sure that these distractions from Slack do not worsen over time.

    Visualizing Interruptions

    The second way to find how you are getting distracted throughout your day is to see where you are spending time in non-focus categories on your timeline. Being able to visually acknowledge distractions throughout your day (and often they occur) can help you internalize how much they really take away from your productivity.
    The screenshot above shows our time spent on messaging in blue. We can see how we spend time in Slack intermittently through out each session. Granted, we do not know if this is required collaborative communication, but the user will often times know when this is the case.
    To enable this view, simply click on the "eye" icon for any particular category in the "Categories" section of your dashboard.
    When enabled, you can hover over the individual vertical bars to see what apps and websites where causing the distraction as well.
    This view is particularly helpful to understand how both externally driven (e.g. notifications from apps) and internally driven distractions (e.g. habitually checking email) affect your ability to focus. It will also help you confirm if you are using productivity tactics, like only checking email in the morning and evening, correctly.

    Continue to the next section:
    Preventing Yourself from Burning Out

    Go back to the previous section:
    Ensuring Accurate Time Tracking

    See the full guide:
    User Guide