Vitamin-R for creative productivity?

Has anyone used a Mac/Windows application called Vitamin-R?

It bills itself as “Productivity for Creative Professionals” with this description:

I’ve downloaded it and it seems to be a rather brutal implementation of the Getting Things Done philosophy. You set yourself a clearly defined goal (i.e. “Describe how Bill meets Jane”) and a minutes-long time to accomplish it. At the end of that time you must evaluate whether you’ve been a success or failure.

It may work marvelously, but does trigger all the rebellion I have against any machine telling me what to do. I wonder if anyone has used it and how helpful they may have found it.

–Michael W. Perry, Seattle

P.S. I might add that, even if you rebel against software managing your life, you might want to read the manual for what it has to say about different modes of thinking and distractions that hurt creativity and productivity. … Manual.pdf

Funnily enough, I just installed it today. I was halfway through the manual when I got distracted, though - I didn’t set a goal for finishing the manual, clearly. :slight_smile: I’ll finish the manual later and try it out tomorrow. It was recommended to me by another Scriv user, and this point I’ll try anything that might just prevent me from procrastinating.
All the best,

We could lock you out of the forums. How does that sound?

Back to the code you developer! Back where you belong! chained to the desk, eyes dried and blurry, pale skinned and unused to fresh air! Work you! WORK!


Now my throat hurts. I need more practice at the evil laugh.

This was on sale on mupromo or maczot… don’t remember which… recently and I downloaded it. I REALLY, REALLY wanted to like it. But… it just annoyed the daylights out of me.

My quality went to pieces just so I could make my rather arbitrary times I set for myself. Now I LOVE nanowrimo so it wasn’t a crappy first draft I was afraid of. I was hoping this would help me to improve on my rewriting and editing tasks. You know… the hard stuff.

You really can do something “icky” for 15 minutes and then move on. The psychology is sound. Whittling away at a huge, nasty project is the way to go. However, despite the interface… I spent more time chopping up my tasks than I did doing them. I like the philosophy and the research behind this but having one more thing on my desktop didn’t help me personally.

I have decided to change my life and not my software. Instead of hijacking this thread I am going to take my digression over to the Latte side and talk about the splintering of attention we are all suffering.

So… I apologize for this not being very helpful. The upshot: you will really need to play with it yourself. My brother swears by it… I just swear at it. (Same response to Write or Die.)


Irony of ironies…

Vitamin-R is now on sale.



That’s actually just a coincidence. :smiley:

So this is “chunckification of the brain”. A Zombie’s dream come true!

Something like this one, right?

I don’t know that I qualify as a creative professional, but I have been following the GTD philosophy for a couple of years now, and there are two pieces of software (which don’t come with my mac/iphone) that I can’t do without: OmniFocus for Mac, and OmniFocus for iPhone.

They’re expensive. There’s a trial version for the Mac, but the iPhone doesn’t do trials, so you’re stuck buying it untried.

They’re worth it though. It is definitely NOT something that forces you to pay attention to a given task, nor does it force you to decide ahead of time how long it will take you to accomplish a given action, or ask you at the end if you failed. That’s your job.

The whole point of GTD is that you put everything that you need to do into your “trusted system” (Calendar for appointments & deadlines, an inbox to throw everything that occurs to you, and a system for keeping up with all of your projects). You review everything once a week so nothing slips through the cracks. When something occurs to you, you write “buy bread” or “research Jules Vern”, throw it into your inbox and immediately go back to what you’re trying to concentrate on, confident that you won’t forget to deal with those things later.

For me, the trusted system is Omnifocus (with inbox) and the Mac Calendar, both of which sync between my Mac and iPhone. I always have at least one of those with me, so I can tell the inner worrier, “that’s right, I have to pick up a gift before Tom’s wedding this friday… it’s in my inbox now, I won’t forget,” and get on with my writing.

Yes, it is amazing that I made the post just after Keith picked up the application and just before MacUpdate announced a half-price promotion for it. It almost makes me wonder if someone at the Google megaplex really is monitoring every aspect of my life and pulling strings here and there for good or ill.

Here is my take on it.

If you adopt it, Vitamin-R will be a brutal implementation of Getting Things Done. I find my to-do list, safely buried out of sight in SimpleNote/Notational Velocity, all to easy to ignore. It’s like having a friend at the other end of the country who occasionally calls to say, “How’s things?”

But make the single step of deciding to let Vitamin-R run your work life, and you acquire a digital slave driver. Tell it you’ll finish something in 30 minutes, and in 30 minutes it will be there, peering over your shoulder and saying, “Well, have you got it done yet?” You can’t escape that level of control and, I admit, I do write much faster under deadlines.

That promo does make the price a very reasonable $7.49, so it looks like I’ll have to decide yeah or nay before 9 pm, Pacific time tonight. Ugh!

–Michael W. Perry, Seattle

I’m impressed with Vitamin-R. OmniFocus manages my tasks, but I don’t do a very good job of managing my attention. I’ve found the Pomodoro technique useful, and this puts a neat interface on that concept.

The workflow needs a bit of refinement (too much setting up and signing off), but otherwise I can see this hanging around for some time - at least until it’s trained me not to use it as a crutch.

I downloaded the Vitamin-R trial out of curiosity when I read this thread, and ended up buying it through mupromo shortly afterwards.

Integration with OmniFocus is probably what swung it for me. I bought OmniFocus pre-release, but my only current use of it is to identify, structure and organise the reading and coursework related to my current uni course – a static list, from which I just check off tasks/items as I complete them.

As always, I am behind schedule with my studying so, to try out Vitamin-R, I decided to catch up, using Vitamin-R to focus my efforts. Setting up a Vitamin-R “time slice” simply involved dragging a task from OmniFocus into the Define Objective box, and estimating how long it would take me to do that piece of reading. Then I sat on the sofa with my laptop on the coffee table in front of me, and cracked on with it.

Every few minutes, a ticking noise reminded me to stop navel-gazing. At the end of the estimated time, a submarine ping sounded, and a screen appeared asking me about my focus levels, whether the session was successful, and whether I had completed my task. I hadn’t completed my first one, because I had found myself thinking about the mechanics of what I was doing rather than actually doing it (for example, focusing on the ticking noise, or telling myself that I had only 14 pages left in this chapter). You get the option of continuing the unfinished task later, or extending the current time slice by an additional x minutes and doing it now. If a task is completed, you get the option of taking a break (timed or open-ended) or going straight on with the next task – and Omnifocus is automatically updated to show that you have completed the one you have just finished. A summary of the session is written to a log file.

By using Vitamin-R to keep me focused (extending sessions as required, starting new ones, and taking timed breaks) I managed to catch up on all of last week’s studying, which was beyond my wildest expectations when I started, and which I do attribute largely to the software. And that is worth £5.28 any day (the mupromo price after conversion), so I bought it.

The plus points for me were:
~ the Omnifocus integration (drag and drop of task description, and then auto-update of completion status) – so I might even start using OmniFocus more
~ the ability to add extra time indefinitely if a task isn’t completed (as long as I am actually concentrating on the task and not wasting time, then I’m happy to revise my estimate as work progresses)
~ the degree of customisation, allowing all sorts of twiddles to sound output, including turning it off
~ the ticking noise, reminding me to get back on track when my mind wandered (but see below)

And the minus points:
~ the ticking noise, distracting me when I was focused on what I was doing (but see above)
~ the time it took me to get comfortable with setting up Vitamin-R (can’t imagine why, as it seems simple now)
~ the fact that you have to be motivated enough to actually start up the software (my biggest problem is actually starting)

Not sure yet how it will work with writing activities, but I can imagine it proving useful.