5's $25 Vitamin-R 3, available from the Mac App Store or as a direct download from is a magical app aimed at helping you zero in on your work so you can hunker down and get it done.

Unlike most getting things done apps, which tend to focus on developing "systems" for helping you get stuff done, Vitamin-R helps you just get down to business. I don't use the word magical lightly but, personally, I've found that Vitamin-R is just that: It helps me zero in on what I need to do when I'm least inclined to do so.

Superlatives aside, Vitamin-R is an app designed to help you define short term objectives and uses a timer to gently move you along. The app can be as simple or as sophisticated as you need it to be, which is to say, however you like to work Vitamin-R will work for you.

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New View

If you've used Vitamin-R in the past you may be surprised to discover that it sports a totally new look. It is a complete rewrite, and to some extent a complete re-think, of the way you work with and use the app. The result is a fully customizable interface that you can configure to suit your specific needs. Because of this, whether you're new to Vitamin-R or you've been using it for ages, it's worth your while to spend some time with the manual. That way you'll get the app to work exactly as you need it to.

The universe of Vitamin-R now exists within one main window and that window consists of two main views: Workflow View and Pad View.

Workflow View is where you define objectives, create time-slices for the work you want to perform and, when a time-slice is complete, where you can mark whether or not you've met your objective, and can add information for Vitamin-R to log. These logs can help you figure out when you're doing your most effective work, which can lead to more effective work in the future.

Pad View provides a location for you to create notes for your current objective, jot down ideas that invade in the middle of your current object, so you can save them for later, and create priming notes so that when you finish one objective, you know exactly where to begin when you start the next one.

Pad View also has a log viewer, so you can look at all the work you've done, display statistics, and this is where you'll find Vitamin-R's Help documents. You can hide the Pad View by clicking any Pad View button twice in a row.

Get'r Done

As noted earlier, Vitamin-R isn't a "system" for helping you create to-do lists so you can "manage your time better." Ugh... dullsville. I've tried dozens of those apps and not a one remains on my Mac. Instead, you use Vitamin-R to define simple objectives: Write about why the reader would want to use Vitamin-R and then create a timer to define a brief time frame or time-slice: 15 minutes. I emphasize brief, because, typically, short 15-25 minute work sessions tend to increase how much work you get done. Once defined, you start your time-slice and Vitamin-R gets out of your way while you go to work.

While your time-slice is running Vitamin-R's menu extra remains in your menu bar and displays a small timer. You can click the menu extra to remind yourself what your objective is and to add notes or ideas for next steps. Every few minutes, the app plays a gently ticking clock sound that acts as a reminder that you're in the middle of a time-slice. When a slice is complete, Vitamin-R lets you know by dimming the screen a bit and then reopening the Vitamin-R Workflow/Statistics View, where you can log your success and write yourself a few notes to help prime you for your next work session.

Make Vitamin-R Work for You

Vitamin-R is designed to work any way you need it to, so by default, you get to choose the duration of your time-slice and break periods. But, if you're a true Pomodoro Technique aficionado, which works using a specific relationship between work and break timing, you can configure Vitamin-R to adhere to the Pomodoro Technique.

If you use more that one device when you're working, you can sync all your settings and logs using Dropbox, so that, no matter whether you're using your iMac, MacBook Air, or iOS device, everything you do travels with you.

Vitamin-R also works with a number of other to-do apps, such as Things 3, OmniFocus, Hit List, and you can create your own Apple Scripts.

The Good

  • Solid and simple time management tool
  • Fully customizable, to suit your specific needs
  • Not a new "system" you have to learn
  • Integrates with many To-do apps

The Bad

  • None

Tick tock

5 out of 5

There are few apps that I review that remain on my Mac after I review them, but Vitamin-R is one of those apps. So well designed and so easy to use, there's nothing you'll find that's better at corralling your brain cells and kick-starting a work session than Vitamin-R 3.

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