Mario Cardinal

"The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" – Marcel Proust


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Create a real to-do list by focusing on “Today”

In this post, I explain why DayTickler allows to focus on “Today”. Why should you separate your “Today” list from the master “To-do” list of everything that need to be done?

“The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries. There is an allure to enumerating how many women Don Giovanni slept with: It was 2,063, at least according to Mozart’s librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte. We also have completely practical lists — the shopping list, the will, the menu — that are also cultural achievements in their own right.”

Umberto Eco

“The list is the origin of culture,” said Umberto Eco in a fascinating interview with the magazine Der Spiegel  about his book The Infinity of Lists: An Illustrated Essay. It seems to be in the genes of human nature to make lists. Unfortunately, lists always end up being too lengthy and in which the significant items are too often hidden. Exhaustive lists are useful to document and catalog the culture of a society but are little use to list things to do.To-do lists invariably crop up when we have so much to do that we can’t memorize all in our heads. Which means that we end up with lists far too long for us to complete. A to-do list with 20 or 30 items is not only daunting, it’s depressing: why even start when there’s no way you will ever finish.

scheduleDayTickler solves this problem by allowing you to create a list for things to do today, right now. Pick three or four items off your to-do list that will make the most difference and schedule them in your “Today” list. The action to schedule does not necessarily implies a temporal dimension, you can plan to do something in terms of a place, for example, when you are in your car or at your computer.

Separating your “Today” list from the master “To-do” list of everything that need to be done is a clear incentive for action. The “Today” list lets you focus on what you must do today, while the “To-Do” list gives you a place to dump every little task you think that someday must get done.


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Calendars do not forgive

In this post, I explain that despite all odds a calendar is inadequate tool for scheduling todos. By the same token, through my argument, I take this opportunity to introduce you to the most unique feature of DayTickler.

A calendar is a fantastic tool for scheduling events. It provides a very appropriate visual metaphor for time planning. This tool is appropriate because it is rare that we have to postpone an event. Events come and go; when their time come they perish like flowers.

Sunrise-CalendarThis is just the opposite with todos. Unlike events, more often than not, we are not able to complete a task on time. The accidents of life forces us to postpone the work later. Todos do not perish like flowers. They are rocks that clutter our way and that we must push ahead. Postponing a  task is a very common scenario and unfortunately calendars do not forgive. Repeatedly we need to manually edit the start and end time. A cumbersome punishment that has no reason for being.

We need a tool that will automatically move, as time progresses, uncompleted todos.

This feature is one of the most important behavior of DayTickler, the personal task manager I am working on for several months. As I stated in a previous post, the most unique feature of our software is the ability to schedule a todo and the fact that, until it is completed, it moves as time progresses.


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Speaking at the Ottawa IT Community

For those of you living in the Ottawa area, Thursday night (April 9th), I will make a presentation at the Ottawa IT Community.  This event is free and takes place at the Ottawa Microsoft Office. I am speaking at 17h45.

I will do a talk about “A Personal Perspective on Designing Mobile Applications”.  For those of you who follow this blog, you know that I am involved in the design of DayTickler, a personal task manager for Apple IOS, Google Android and Microsoft WP8. During this presentation, explore with me what I learned during this unique journey.

http://www.meetup.com/ottawaitcommunity/events/209125852/


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DayTickler, a tool to pair your brain with your gut

In this post, I present the most important feature of DayTickler. I explain, for those of you who do not like lists and todos, that this feature can be used without first recorded your things to do. The whole point is to learn how to pair your brain with your gut.

I often agree with Jeff Atwood, the author of the fabulous blog Coding Horror. I read his blog with great joy since 2004 (over 10 years, wow !!!).

Tools come and go, but your brain and your gut will be here with you for the rest of your life. – Todon’t, Jeff Atwood

To-do lists that only allows you to empty your brain are useless. A useful tool must help you stay focused. It must simplifies the daily challenge to pair your brain with your gut. It should empower you to get the courage to act.

Over the years, I adopted three practices that help me find the courage to act. Obviously, these practices are the core of the DayTickler tool :

  1. Establish my commitments of the day
  2. Write down and schedule my commitments of the day
  3. Stay focused throughout the day on my commitments

The easiest way to create a moral obligation with yourself is to reduce your commitments to something simple. Here is a case where a long list of tasks is ineffective and gives the illusion of accomplishment. Engage only on what is important and easily achievable in the next 24 hours.  I am of those, like Jeff Atwood, that set commitment by identifying the three things that need to be done today.

What three things do you need to do today?
You should be able to instantly answer this simple question, each day, every day, for the rest of your life. Without any tools other than the brain you were born with. – Three things, Jeff Atwood

Schedule-mockupAfter my three things are identified, it is at this moment, unlike Jeff Atwood, that I need a tool. I discovered that if I write my commitments, I am much more likely to achieve them. It is as if the act of writing my three things increase my moral obligation. In addition, the bond is even stronger if I schedule the period of day when I intend to achieve them. It is the ability to schedule my commitments that is the most powerful feature of DayTickler and what differentiates it from other to-do tools. I found no software that allows me to commit to tasks in this way. Calendars force me to explicitly set the hour. What I want is to specify a period of day (morning, afternoon, evening, overnight) with one simple finger touch. Other tools such as to-do lists, in addition to having the same constraint on time setting, make me see my three things through a long list of todos rather than a calendar view. Note, for those who do not like to-do lists, with DayTickler you can write down your daily commitments without first recording your things in a list.

Even if your brain knows what your priorities are for the day, he has the annoying habit to prioritize the pleasure over taken commitments. Unconsciously (or conciously), the brain will try to forget about your schedule for the day. This is why, to refresh your moral obligation and to find the courage to pursue your commitments, you will need to consult your schedule several times during the day. By allowing you to stay focused, a tool like DayTickler justifies its value. At any time during the day, you can track your commitments and get a reward when you tick a commitment you have just completed.


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A picture is worth a thousand words

A logo is a graphic mark, emblem, or symbol commonly used by commercial enterprises to aid and promote instant public recognition. This post explains the process by which we design the logo for our product DayTickler.

The adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image. Logos are either purely graphic (symbols/icons) or are composed of the name of the product (a logotype or wordmark). Because the name of the software is always displayed alongside the logo, the smart phone ecosystem favors the use of a purely graphic logo (ideogram).

Logo and branding work together. A brand consists of many components that must all integrate into a seamless, functional whole. In a previous post, I explain why we chose the name DayTickler. We, humans are fond of remembering most of what we see; what we see somehow stays in our subconscious. The importance of logo in branding can be further simplified as:

  • Frontline Representation – A logo provides the software with an image and it should be able to convey the message clearly.
  • Memorizable – A simple and good looking logo will often be easier to remember than the name of a product.
  • Uniqueness – Don’t only make your logo look the best but also make it look unique and different because it’s the identity of your product which stakes its credibility.

CheckDuring our first drafts, we quickly opted for a check mark. We felt this was a good choice because this image convey a sense of fulfillment, which is the emotion that our software provides when used. Unfortunately, a check mark as a logo is far from unique. A quick glance through the major apps stores shows that almost all the “To-Do List” software uses this ideogram.

So we decided to improve the image of the check mark by adding a symbol of happiness. Here are some prototypes.

Logo-smile

Unfortunately, no image was satisfactory. None was emanating the seriousness required for a productivity software. After reflection, we decided to give up and go back to the fundamental.

Name LogoA differentiator and unique elements of our product is that it allows to easily team up with your family and friends to achieve your todos. We decided to put this forward while keeping the sense of fulfillment. Here is the final result with which we are very satisfied.


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What’s in a Name

The power of a name and its value has long been immortalized in prose, poetry, and religious ceremony. Everyone recognizes the things around them by name. Naming a product is important.  This post explains why the name of our software is DayTickler.

A name is a word or combination of words by which an entity is designated and distinguished from other. You can hardly promote a product and expect it to bring huge benefits if its name bears no relevance to the target market. Contrary to Shakespeare’s belief that That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, the answer to the question “What’s in a name?” does not apply here. A name can make a large difference in the perception of what a product should be and how it should function.

For those of you who follow this blog, you know that in recent months we have repositioned our startup Slingboards Lab and that we are currently designing a personal task planner for mobile phones. We are currently building a first version of the software. We plan to market it as a freemium application through the apps store of Apple, Android and Microsoft.

The importance of choosing the right name for software is not to be taken lightly. Not only the name of your software is an important part of its “business card” on the web and in the apps store, but the name will enable customers to remember your product. This is about making your name talk-able. An easy name will make it easier for current users to refer your name to others. It is very well known that advertising is not a trustworthy marketing tactic as much as word-of-mouth. The name is probably the first thing prospective customers will find out about your application. It is a good way to differentiate yourself from your competition.

We chose the name DayTickler. Not only it is talk-able and the domain name was available, but it clearly explains what differentiates our application of the hundred Todo apps that already exist on the market. First, it was important to have the word “Day” because our product is a daily planner. Second, we choose the word “Tickler” because it is a device that serves as a reminder and is arranged to bring matters to timely attention. But that is not all, a tickler is also a device that make someone laugh by lightly touching a very sensitive part of the body. Our product is different from competitors in that it allows to easily team up with your family and friends to achieve your todos. We can imagine that the action of chatting and collaborating online with your close ones looks a bit like the pleasure of being “virtually” tickle.