It was a cold december evening in 20 19. I had been running a Marketing Agency for 5 years already. And on that day I visited a time-management masterclass which was based on this book: Getting things done, by David Allen. Before visiting that masterclass I used Teamwork software to manage my team’s tasks, a regular Daily Planner to manage my private tasks as well as iPhone calendar to manage appointments. In fact I was switching between these tools all the time. I would do this every single day.
The basic concept of that masterclass was to get everything out of your mind and put it into 1 organised system. The argument was convincing. It’s scientifically proven that our brain consumes energy to hold things in our mind. It means that if we don’t write something down, we keep thinking about it. And the more things we keep in mind, the more energy our brain consumes, which leads to high level of stress and anxiety.
On the other hand when we write everything down we release our minds. We don’t overthink things, because we know they are written in a safe place and in any moment we can access them. It gives us a feeling of security, of control. Our brain doesn’t have to process this information anymore and can better focus on the task we are working on right now.
Long story short – if we have a system, where we write down all our tasks, activities, ideas, projects, we have less stress, less anxiety, more control, better focus and productivity. When I realised this I thought – wow, it would be great to place all my activities into 1 place and manage them without switching between different tools. That’s why right after the seminar I didn’t go home, but I went back to my office, with a clear goal – I want to stop using Daily Planner and iPhone Calendar. So I had to find a tool where I could put all my activities together in one place.
So, the search began. After 5 hours of exploration I was dissapointed. it was 2 a.m and I still hadn’t found anything promising. My requirements were simple:
First. I wanted to see all my tasks and apointments in 1 schedule. So I could look at today’s column and see all my activities with nothing left behind. For example I have 1 task to do in the morning, after that at 10 a.m. I have a meeting with a customer, than I have 5 tasks to do and finally I have a meeting with my team at 6 p.m. So it’s like events and tasks are combined in 1 place. There were couple of tools which allowed to do that, like Google Calendar, but they missed important things, that I’m going to explain further on.
Second of all. I wanted to see in this schedule both work and private activities. For example if I have a doctor’s appointment at 3 p.m. today. I don’t want to start working on a big task at 2 p.m., because in 30 minutes I’m going to leave the office. I want a schedule where I can see all of my work and private activities in one place without switching to different tools. At the same time I don’t want my teammates to see all my private stuff. I wouldn’t be comfortable if anyone watched my personal life. So it’s like I want my teammates to see my work tasks, but not the private ones.
Third. I wanted to have a waiting list, where I can keep all my not yet scheduled tasks. It’s like a temporary storage for activities. For example I receive a new task to write a text for a new job ad, but this week seems too busy, so I just leave this task in the waiting list and come back on Monday when I will be planning the upcoming week. So If I have to do something, but not sure about the day, I simply put it on the waiting list and come back later. It’s like a backlog of my to-dos.
Forth. I wanted to see the actual deadlines for each task. Many tools provide calendar view of the tasks, like Asana or Clickup. The problem is that tasks are displayed based on the due date. And if you move a task to another date in the calendar, the due date also changes. For example if my task’s due date is July 5th, this task will be shown on that date. But does it necessaraly mean, that I’m going to work on that task on July 5th? No. In many cases I will complete it earlier. Moreover due dates for tasks often can be set by someone else, like a team lead or a supervisor, and employees should not change it. So what I wanted was to schedule a task on July 1st, while the due date remains July 5th.
And Finally I wanted to see all completed tasks by date. I’ve been using many task planners like to-do-list, Jira, Wrike, Teamwork, Clickup. Every time I completed a task it just vanished. I had to search a «show completed tasks» link in order to see them again. It’s ridiculous, because you can’t track your progress during a workday. Everyday I work hard, I complete tasks one by one, but what do I see? All the time I see only a huge list of things left to do… And it never ends. But what I really wanted to see was which tasks I’ve already completed today. When you look at completed tasks, you feel some kind of accomplishment. You are proud of yourself. And the next thing you wanna do is to complete more and more tasks. But if you can’t track your progress it’s like climbing a mountain and all the time looking at the top. You feel like you’re not getting any closer, it’s still so far away from you. But when you look back and see the path you’ve already taken, you realise that you’re certainly getting closer to the summit.
So these 5 things were imporant to me and after unsuccessful attempts to find an appropriate tool I wrote a big letter to Teamwork Support requesting to develop some of these features with a detailed explanation. But the next day I received an answer, where they tried to convince me, that instead of requested features I can use existing ones. Literally they denied all my ideas and it was clear that they are not going to implement them. In that moment I thought – If they don’t want to do that, why don’t we create this kind of tool ourselves. So I opened Moqups and started to develop a prototype.
After a couple days I finished the first sketch. It was simple, ugly, but exactly what I had in mind. Since we had already developed several online tools for our marketing agency, I just sent this sketch to our Developer and asked – can we create this? The answer was Yes. I didn’t think about creating a product for a broad audience. My idea was to develop it for internal use, for our agency.
A few days later, when I was thinking about it, I asked myself a good question – if this tool is going to make my life easier, whould it be useful for other people aswell? I texted several friends who were managers and team leads in different companies and scheduled appointments. I was curious to know how their teams manage tasks and work. During these meetings I realised that all of them were using multiple tools for task management, events and private stuff.
Some of them were using Outlook to schedule appointments, while Trello or Asana to manage tasks. Others were using Google Calendar combining with Jira or To-do-list. But None of them had 1 universal tool for both task and time management. After I showed them my sketch and explained how it works, they liked it and admitted that it’s going to solve also their problem. Besides that, they gave some brilliant advice how to make this tool even better.
After getting this input I couldn’t stop thinking about making this tool public. It was clear to me that this market was a blue ocean. Every year task management systems are being used by more and more companies that are moving online and starting to work virtually. At the same time all existing tools don’t solve some critical problems for their teams to do their jobs efficiently. I decided to give it a try and founded a startup.