Wisani Shilumani

@wshilumani

First day using my own app

The results have been amazing, dare I say it myself

Disclaimer: You can jump straight to “Day 1: My experience” if you’re uninterested in the history.

History: The back story

Near the end of last year, I went through an unhealthy habit of wasting a lot of time and money by indulging myself with nights out with friends. I would spend about 2–3 nights out weekly (usually Fridays and Sundays).

On top of this unhealthy layer of bad decisions, I adopted an even more interesting one: About halfway through the evening, albeit incredibly dangerous, I would abandon my friend group and take a lone walk through the city.

Identifying my priorities

Going out and, dare I say, being surrounded by an unproductive atmosphere…and being unproductive myself, would put me in an unbent state of reflection.

What am I doing? Why am I doing what I’m doing? What do I want to be doing?

…It’s time for a walk. The answers to those questions became clear on about my third walk, which is when I stopped the habit:

  1. I’m wasting time and money.
  2. I’m under the illusion that this is the best way to spend my time off, and that it’s a good way to be social.
  3. Building things, and building valuable social networks.

And those (3), were the end of how I identified my 2 main priorities. “If you have more than 3 priorities, you have none” — Jim Collins

A turning point

On 28th November 2018 (uncoincidentally the date of my birthday), as a protest to indulgence in the unproductive — I attended two meetups in the city. I had done photography for both of the meetups, and had learnt a bucket load from both. I came home feeling super productive.

It begged the question: how, or why did I become so productive in that one day. What was the difference?

It was mindfulness. I was in the present on that day. Birthday’s for males in their twenties are notoriously unproductive, and I knew that before the day, and I knew it on the day — I was fully aware.

The realisation came: Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. — Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Prior to my birthday, I had not been winning my days before they started. I just dangerously went along, and lived as the hours passed.

In comes the app

I became greedy after my birthday. I wanted the awareness I had that day, everyday.

There was no shining moment of realisation…it was really simple. “What if I reminded myself to be productive a few times everyday?”. Sure, that would work, but it wouldn’t be powerful enough — I would end up turning the reminder off.

I changed it up a little bit: “What if, regardless of what I’m doing, I could ask myself if I was working towards my goals or not?”, and bingo! That sold it for me. Here’s why:

  1. It would prompt me to be honest with myself and be immediately accountable.
  2. I would be able to record those responses and aggregate them, and would allow me to weigh in on how productive I’ve been over time.

I was blind to the biggest thing it would do for me.

Day 1: My experience

I published the app to the Google Play Store for download in the early hours of 04 Jan 2019. I was naturally the first user.

Prompt 1 [11AM]

I got into work at 8AM on Friday, and was naturally being productive, that when the app asked me: “Are you currently doing something that works towards your goals?”, the answer was an obvious yes.

Nothing special — but I couldn’t hide my excitement, as it added “Beach Rd”, the location of our office, to the list of places I had been productive.

Prompt 2 [4PM]

A.K.A. The rude prompt. After my 4PM work beer and sustained exhaustion from travelling back home, I lay on my bed and checked my phone — and there it was: “Are you currently doing something that works towards your goals?” It was a difficult one — rest is important, but I was honest — I was planning to grab another drink later, so I gave it a No.

What’s interesting is what happened afterwards. Although my initial intention was to go for a drink, I asked myself “why?” — and it was because I was under the illusion that my energy was spent…which didn’t make sense, because being out demands energy.

I can’t believe the lies I tell myself everyday.

So instead, I:

  1. Took a short nap, and woke up 20 minutes later
  2. Read 4 medium articles (This one really stuck out)
  3. Watched a Udemy course on UX and made some touch ups to a project from what I learnt on the course
  4. Played 5 games of Dota as a break, while I listened to 5 1-hour long podcasts on Indie Hackers. I really recommend these!

Prompt 3 [9PM]

This happened as I was playing Dota. I was listening to a podcast, so I marked it as a yes.

The unexpected triumph

I woke up this morning at 7AM. That’s possibly 4 hours ahead of the time I would’ve woken up had I gone out.

When I woke up, I saw all my devices on my bed (I can’t rid the habit just yet), and my first instinct was to open them up and check notifications —

One of those notifications to check were if I had a productivity prompt. The thought of the prompt put me in awareness mode. “Wait…”, I thought, “I should decide my priorities for the day.”

And so I did. I have design work to do for a friend, I should probably go for a walk, and read something…on that note, I should probably write something too; and well…I wrote this.

The true power of the app

While the app is in its very early stages and has a super simple, almost undesigned, UI; it’s power doesn’t come from itself — but from the person using it; or more accurately, the user’s psychology.

The prompts, or points of mindfulness during the day serve as anchors, similar to how meditation would, but in micro doses at a higher frequency.

An illustration below, in my experience

Unanchored awareness

Going about your day without intentional taps into awareness. Our world is designed to make the equilibrium impulsive. Exhaustion and distractions push you more into blindly flowing the current. (Regardless of whether it’s a good or bad one)

Meditation: Longer times practicing mindfulness

In mindful meditation, you end up training the brain to be more mindful over time using neuroplastic molding. This is not specifically for productivity, but your general mental well-being.

Foqus: More frequent, shorter bursts of mindfulness

The app brings you back into a state of awareness about your productivity at multiple points throughout the day. The cycle is more volatile, and can therefore be exhausting (an interesting problem to solve); but this is specifically directed towards productivity and anchoring you towards it.

Conclusion

This has been a game changer for me since it’s publication. I’ve only used it for 24 hours, but I’ll continue to document my experiences as I go along; and can hopefully get real data to back up the pseudoscience I used in those graphs above :)

Download the app here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.foqus.app

** I’m busy publishing the facebook app, ask me to add you as a tester on facebook **

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