Time Well Spent

Distracted? Let's build a movement for technology designed to help us spend time well.

As seen on TED.com, NYTimes, Rue89 and more.

The Manifesto

We live in an attention economy where products or websites win by getting our time. It's a race to the bottom of the brain stem to hijack our mind.

We're left constantly distracted.

Either we connect, but constantly get sucked in. Or we unplug, but lose all the benefits of technology completely.

We've had enough. We need to restore choice.

We believe in a new kind of design, that lets us connect without getting sucked in. And disconnect, without missing something important.

And we believe in a new kind economy that’s built to help us spend time well, where products compete to help us live by our values.

Let's start that conversation now.

How You Can Make a Difference

Share the TED Talk


Develop the UIs of the Future
We're assembling a gallery of interfaces and design techniques that treat people with respect.
Watch a video on redesign technique
View a Draft Curriculum for Design Schools
Join the community of designers doing redesigns

Establish Guidelines for Time-Respectful Products
This is a chance for a fresh start in designing the apps, games, and websites we use every day. We’re assembling a cross-industry team to build Human Interface Guidelines for the 21st century.
Join our community of designers

Hippocratic Oath for Designers (coming soon)
Doctors have a Hippocratic Oath for medicine. We're working to draft a 'Hippocratic Oath' for designers.


Is Your App Time Well Spent?
Think your app or website is built to help people live their life? We're creating a coalition of companies who design their products and measure their success in new ways.
Submit your App

Share your Company's Metrics and Impact
Does your company measure net positive contributions to human life? We'd like to create a coalition of companies who measure their success in new ways.
Watch a video on creating new metrics
Tell the world about your metrics

Shape New Data Infrastructure for the Internet
We hope to create the largest open database of user reviews—open, structured data about what people use and whether they consider it time well spent in the long run—and offer APIs for evaluating companies, products, and URLs by Time Well Spent rather than popularity.
Watch a video on creating new metrics

Advocates & Writers

Develop a Brand & Certification
Have experience launching new certifications like Organic or LEED? Feel good brands like Livestrong or RED?
Participate in a Strategy Meetup or Get in touch

Build a Social Movement
As parents and as individuals, many of us are concerned about how distraction impacts our human capacities for presence, reflection, focus, and the ways we relate to one another. Help us focus these concerns in productive directions.
Get in touch

Collaborate with Academic Research or Funding
We're working with academic researchers in behavioral economics, ethics, economics and psychology, and more. If you think you can help, get in touch

Get Involved


What makes a product designed for Time Well Spent versus Time Spent? Here are several distinctions.

With Time Spent

With Time Well Spent

Design Goal

We design to keep users active and hooked, while helping them complete tasks. We design to help users live their life and spend time well, while gaining their loyalty and business.

Ability to Disconnect 

We expect users to be connected 24/7. If they want to disconnect, they can turn off their phone. We empower users to disconnect without missing important.

Quality of Attention

We slice people's attention into frequent short bursts of attention; who says short bursts are worse than long and continuous uses? We treat people's attention as sacred and minimize task-switching and interruptions.

Success Metrics

We measure success in terms of number of transactions (clicks, sales, time spent, or daily use). We measure success in terms of lasting benefits that land concretely in people's lives, while minimally using their time.

Business Model

We sell people's attention to advertisers, so we need as much of it as possible. We use business models that don't force us to maximize how much attention we get: payments, subscription or support from other revenue streams.

Framing of Choices

Disempowering choices that relate to what business cares about. Empowering choices that relate to what people care about in their lives.

Self-Deception & Greenwashing

We believe our Mission Statement explains our impact on users' lives. We have a Mission Question that lets us humbly get in touch with our holistic impact on users' lives.

Dignity & Respect

Users are sheep we can influence with conversion funnels. We design to manipulate them. Users are people whose attention, choices, relationships and lives are sacred. We design to empower them.

Explanation of People's Choices

Users' choices reflect their own free will. Users' choices reflect the menu, situation and context from which they choose.

Defaults & Responsibility

Default settings don't matter. It’s the user's responsibility to get the most out of the product; even if most people won't know how and it takes effort. Default settings matter. It's our responsibility to help the majority of people get the most out of the product with the least effort.

Psychological Externalities

It's users' responsibility to reduce anxieties and compulsions that come from using our products. It's our responsibility to reduce anxieties and compulsions that come from using our products.


How can we live more mindfully with technology today?

  1. Turn Off Notifications, Except from People
    Only get notifications when people want your attention, not businesses or machines.
  2. Create a Tools-Only Home Screen
    Limit your home screen to the top 4-6 tools you use frequently to get things done. Move all other apps off the first page and into folders.
  3. Open Other Apps by Typing
    Typing filters out unconscious choices while keeping conscious ones. Open apps by typing their name.
  4. Keep Only Two Pages of Apps
    With six pages of apps, we find ourselves swiping back and forth through them mindlessly. Keep to two pages, the first with tools and the other with folders.
  5. Keep the M&M's, but Hide the Wrappers
    Colorful icons trigger our mind to use apps unconsciously. Put these on the second or third page inside folders, and open them by typing instead.
  6. Stop Leaky Interactions
    Open your Alarm or Camera without unlocking your phone so you get kicked out automaticaly afterwards. Swipe up on the lock screen to quickly access them.
  7. Use Clear Unambiguous Vibrations
    Was that last buzz in my pocket a message from mom or Twitter? Create unambiguous vibrations to distinguish messages from people vs. machines.
    (Visit Settings > Notifications > Messages > Sounds > Vibration > Create New)
  8. Buy a Travel Alarm Clock and Charge Outside the Bedroom
    Waking up to check our phone sets our day off to a bad start. Get a separate alarm clock and leave your phone outside to charge.
  9. Know your Bottomless Bowls and Slot Machines
    Know which apps are bottomless bowls (trapdoors) and slot machines (constant checking) for you. Move them off the first page of apps.
Learn More


We're a community of design thinkers, philosophers, social scientists, anthropologists, entrepreneurs and technologists who care about having technology designed to help us live free and fulfilled lives.

Want to get involved?

Drop Us a Line

This talk was deeply inspired by Joe Edelman's work on CouchSurfing's metrics and  Designing for Human Values, Gloria Mark's research on the Cost of Interruptions, Linda Stone's work on continuous partial attention, Damon Horowitz's Call for a Moral Operating System, Jonathan Harris' essay on Modern Medicine, and the B-Corp movement.
More resources to be posted soon!