Free app helps you create meaningful habits

If you've been struggling to finding the time to learn a new skill, 'personalised timer' app Sessions could help.

Created by designers Duane Harrison and Jamie Sunderland, and mobile developer Adam Marcus, Sessions helps you allocate time to new activities that you want to master and make into 'meaningful habits'.

Whether you want to spend more time drawing, learn a new language or maybe get fit, simply make a pledge – stating the activity, how much time you'd like to dedicate to it and how regularly – and Sessions will track your progress and support you through the journey. Harrison explains more...

What's the concept behind Sessions?

Sessions makes personalised timers for all your favourite activities to help you create habits – it might be activities to try, languages to learn, books to read or skills to master. We believe there's opportunity for Sessions to help people create meaningful habits.

Where did the idea come from?

The idea for Sessions comes from two aspects. One: it's about making a conscious effort to make time for yourself – to learn new things or nurture existing activities. We thought that even dedicating a little time each day could lead to big changes.

Two: a frustration with many digital products designed to 'go for your eyeballs' and demanding your attention. So we asked: how can we design a digital product to help people make time for themselves?

How did you turn your idea into reality?

With the belief that there was an opportunity to help make time feel different, Jamie [Sunderland] and I teamed up with Adam [Marcus], a mobile developer who I met during an internship, and we started thinking about the app.

Before it was built, we went through different iterations, carrying out user testing with mock-ups. This gave us valuable learning and enabled us to change the product as we saw how people used it and how they expected to use it.

How did you design the user experience?

During this first development of Sessions, the analogy we kept using was the behaviours of a typical British butler. The butler is calm and helpful, yet unobtrusive.

This helps the user focus on the activity they want to achieve. We try to 'nudge' the user into creating habits by showing how many times in a row they have completed it.

What was the most challenging part?

Communication and time, as we actually were in different locations after we came up with the idea. We resorted to using group Facebook messaging and focused some evenings on it. Messaging via mobile was effective as no matter where we were, we were all in the loop.

My favourite part is the way the app suggests activities. It's a subtle on-boarding experience for first-time users.

Where can people find Sessions?

The app can be downloaded for free via the Apple Store and you can find out more on the Sessions website. It launched last week.

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Julia Sagar
Editor-in-chief retail

Julia is editor-in-chief, retail at Future Ltd, where she works in e-commerce across a number of consumer lifestyle brands. A former editor of design website Creative Bloq, she’s also worked on a variety of print titles, and was part of the team that launched consumer tech website TechRadar. She's been writing about art, design and technology for over 15 years.