Vitamin-R 2 full review

Chop up your day into focused chunks with Vitamin R 2 - an app that tells you when to work, rest and play.

Vitamin-R 2 is an app designed to help you manage your working day better, by slicing it up into short periods of intense focus, followed by moments of well-earned rest. It gives you note-taking tools to track what you’re doing and alarms to tell you when each time slice is over.

When we opened Vitamin-R 2 for the first time, we were expecting a calendar-style application – a tool that would enable us to plan out our day in portions. But it turns out that Vitamin-R 2 doesn’t work like that. It’s about maintaining a steady focus on work through the day, in significant blocks. It’s not a “To Do” list tool.

Instead Vitamin-R 2 grabs your workflow by the scruff of its grubby neck and takes a degree of control from you. A prompt pops up, asking you what you want to do with the next 'slice' of time. You enter a few words into a box, then use a slider to set the length of the slice to between 15 and 30 minutes. 

Next, the app pops up a list of active programs running on your machine. You can shut down access to any of them for the duration, removing the temptation to check in on Twitter or have a few minutes flinging Angry Birds. A timer begins and you work for a set period on a defined task.

At the end of the slice you’re rewarded with a rest, before you designate the next slice of time. Your breather can be open-ended or last a set time too. Vitamin-R repeats this for four cycles before urging you to take a bigger break.

Vitamin-R 2 is inspired by a productivity method called the Pomodoro Technique, which suggests dividing your working day into 25 minute slots. It encourages you to mix up the kinds of work you do during the day too, so that your brain gets a periodic 'reboot'. It seems like a good idea – and Vitamin-R 2 gives you the timing tools and distraction extraction features to see it through.

It also enables you to take notes during each slice. These are divided into Now and Later categories so you can keep track of where you are in your work cycle. And though there’s a lack of 'To Do' list style task planning built-in, it integrates with several well-known task apps, including Things and OmniFocus. You can drag-and-drop tasks into Vitamin-R 2 direct from these project managers. 

Over time, the app builds up a data map of your working practices, enabling you to adapt and optimise your working habits for maximum productivity. And you export that data – including tags you’ve applied to slices – as a CSV file.

Does it work? Like many tools designed to cut down distraction, Vitamin-R 2 only works if you give yourself over to it. In many ways, it’s not much more than a glorified egg timer, keeping you on track as you trudge through task. The data-gathering features are powerful, but easy to overlook.

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