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AP/Jeff White
Just keep working.

This new product wants to make you work even harder—and give you points when you do

Thu-Huong Ha
By Thu-Huong Ha


In today’s buzzing workplace, we have so many devices and apps that we need new ones to shut them up. Presenting Saent, a new product that helps keep your computer silent while you work.

Image courtesy Saent
Touch here for silence.

Like a “Do not disturb” button for your computer, Saent provides a period of 30, 50, or 90 minutes of interrupted work. A piece of hardware sits on your desk and runs software that lets automatically silences notifications and blocks unproductive sites. If you try to deviate from your preset list of approved apps, Saent sends you a reminder to stay on task until it’s time to take a break.

It also awards points for productivity, and allows users to compete with one another. Throughout the day, you might get points for every 10 minutes of interrupted work, or for ignoring email before 10am, Saent co-founder Tim Metz tells Quartz.

Saent, which is currently seeking funding on Indiegogo, is part of a growing pool of productivity apps aimed at the over-stimulated and over-connected. Although multitasking was once a source of pride for busy CEOs, a spate of recent research supports the idea that, for most people, multitasking is counterproductive.

But a paradox lies at the heart of an app that helps you disconnect. Treating productivity like a game you can rack up points for risks reducing work to a simple task of checking a to-do list or getting to inbox zero.

The dopamine-addiction feedback loop, as Daniel J. Levitin calls it, rewards us for novelty, treats all tick-boxes as equal, and doesn’t distinguish between creative tasks and mundane ones—so long as they get be pronounced done. What’s troubling is the corner we’ve boxed ourselves into, full of pings and dings and rings, from which there may be no easy respite.

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