A brief a day keeps procrastination away.
At least that's the working hypothesis anyway.
We all have obligations, commitments and tasks we have/want to get done – may it be for personal benefit or career related. As an ambitious in both the personal and professional aspects of my life I tend to focus a lot of effort on optimizing efficiency which has led me to develop my own unique system of scheduling and time management. The key goal for this was to create a balanced system that allowed for structured time allocation while maintaining the flexibility and freedom to do the things that I want to do or that may be more impromptu without falling behind schedule. This thinking is why working on Bizzy was a fun experiment and unique challenge for me.
The overall objective was to create an application that could be used by and adaptable to a vast assortment of users, use cases, and lifestyles. This aims to solve the key pain point of ...
I always feel like there just isn't enough time in the day.
There's beauty in the details aka time management.
Coining the "Zero Time" approach in 5..4..3..2..1!
Similarly to the Zero Dollar approach to budgeting which is the act of telling every dollar where to go and for what. Applying that same thinking to time is where the magic happens. For myself, I developed a block scheduling system in combination with a method inspired by Thomas Edison and Benjamin Franklin for the general block foundations. Then merging a modified grid system inspired by Lubos Volkov's daily task lists he shared some time back.
Similar to Thomas Edison I am often awake 18-20 hours a day and thrive on being productive, on the other end I like structure which Benjamin Franklin's day schedule provides from waking to bedtime. Combining the two allowed me to create a process of planning my days and tasks that is both structured as well as fluid, allowing for freedom and adaptability. Then I implemented a similar tactic to what Lubos Volkov does/did to plan works for the day; this enables me to prioritize the top three tasks broken down as follows.
- TASK 01 – MOST IMPORTANT TASK – The main priority, as long as this is completed, I'm having a good day.
- TASK 02 – SECONDARY IMPORTANT TASK – The second most important task, if this is completed as well my day is great.
- TASK 03 – TERTIARY IMPORTANT TASK – The third most important task, if completed as well I'm over the fucking moon.
The scheduling is broken down into one 4 hour morning block followed a 3 hour work block, one 2 hour personal time block followed by another 4 hour work block. Beyond this my time is in free flow mode, typically its more work skewed towards personal projects, research and learning until about 3am or 4am then sleep and up again at 8am
The marriage of these three components makes it easy to manage creative blocks of times, calls and meetings, personal time, and family time with ease and fluidity that still allows for spontaneity.
To be productive or not to be?
That is the question...
The first step on any journey towards better productivity habits is first to decide that you want to be more productive. To do so, you must practice a bit of self-awareness, looking inwardly and analyzing yourself openly and honestly. Take the effort as well as time to ask yourself "where am I currently performing, where do I aspire to be performance-wise?" This kind of thinking applied in a habitual oriented interface can help users to visualize their growth as well as identify areas of weakness that may be hindering that growth.
Now productivity alone is not enough alone, mental health and healthy practices are just as crucial to our overall performance day-to-day. I am a tremendous advocate for the notion that self-reflection & inward exploration can lend a competitive advantage in almost every aspect of life. Think of it as an internal game of chess; if you can predict your behaviors and patterns five moves before they present themselves, then you can master the art of anticipation thus unlocking the ability to adjust preemptively for a more optimal outcome in your favor.
Anticipation is key.
I dare say a skeleton key...
Having foresight is not about predicting the future, but minimizing the surprise that lies ahead through diligent preparation.
As a strategist, designer, thinker, and solver of complex problems I take pride in having an anticipatory approach to everything I'm confronted with. I believe that by possessing even a small amount of foresight one can become more fluid in their thinking and look past that which is presently within view to that which rests beyond the fold.
The ability to see the larger picture, plan, adapt and even execute on it efficiently is paramount to achieving the desired goal in a realistic timeframe. Arguably, more importantly, this enables one to pivot with effortlessness when adversity peaks into that picture.
Experiences elevated by motion.
One keyframe at a time...
From the seedling of an idea to conceptualization, wireframing, through to design execution, every step along the way must be a feedback loop of some sort. In many cases, the best winds to cast your boomerang in is that fueled by the users you are designing for. From functionality to visuals and beyond, like how a brand's users receive the finished product is critical to its success.
One of the most nuanced methods of triggering emotional connection, a deeper understanding, and more meaningful experience for our users is through the use of interaction and micro-interactions. I’m a deep believer in aesthetic integrity or as I like to say “vanquishing the vanity” in designs. Every pixel and every motion frame should be there to serve a purpose and add value for the user whether that is emotional, informative, or simple action feedbacks. Every bit needs to be thoughtfully implemented.
Building in value.
do it from the start...
With every product, whether it be physical or digital the experience must be both enjoyable and provide subtle guidance to the user. For example, physical products unboxing experience can drastically increase the perceived value of the product while making the consumer feel more confident in their purchase and laying a foundation for their relationship with the brand. This experience inherently builds trust between the user and the brand.
When talking about digital products such as applications, this can be taken so much further since on average digital products offer more usability and extend functionality. To add value comes down to a few components, one of which being pain relief. Every product should aim to solve a problem for the user; if this is done correctly, there is immediate value-added for the user. Expanding upon this only deepens the users' relationship and loyalty to the product. For example, in this video, the user is viewing a meeting that involves a new client and presenting materials to onboard them (this is mirrored on the client's end). By calling attention to the time, communication options, parties involved, etc. in a clear hierarchy we lead the user through the product in a purposeful and meaningful way.
The goal is to focus on what the user is trying to accomplish, address and remove any obstacles that hinder their success in reaching these goals and providing subtle guidance to aid them along the way.
Between the lines.
it's not just empty space there you know...
The distance between the lines is just as significant as the lines themselves... okay that's a bit cryptic so let's dive in.
In the last post, we spoke about the importance of extending a users experience beyond the vanity of the user interface with thoughtfully implemented motion. Now when we are creating products, it's easy to get lost in the main flows, views, hierarchy, etc. leaving the subtle, nuanced structures to be overlooked. For example, clear state views, load views, tooltips, and the like.
These elements are just as crucial to user satisfaction as any other aspect for many reasons, let's take empty states and analyze it. This view can be vital to a users understanding of and direction to the next action, without it we leave it to chance that a user will instinctively know what to do and why.
Another great example is loading views like the one in this post. The user is trying to make a video call, but there is always that time between call initiation and the call connection. Now we could've just put some text stating "One second while we connect you" with an attractive image for visuals but let's be honest we aren't going to want to look at that for too long, and it lacks a connection to the user, it is void of emotion and engagement. So by adding subtle interactions, in this case, the center puck presents itself in a soft, welcoming way and is then accompanied by an outside pulse line for every ring. This simple extra addition adds engagement that amplifies the experience for the user even if at a subconscious level.
The point here is that we must always remain diligent in our process to provide our users and clients with the best possible experience. Never settle for good enough and understand that there's still room for improvement, but the focus should be on the improvements that make a difference over pointless embellishments.