Mario Cardinal

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

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Back to the drawing board

When restarting on new ground it is difficult to keep the momentum. Fortunately, we do not start from scratch. We are evaluating what we should retrieve from our old DayTickler product. There are many things that are still valid because we always aim to achieve what is important today. Obviously, with the new orientation, we must not only review the product, but also the name.

The most difficult will be to design the product features, those that allow to team up effectively. As previously stated, the challenge is not only to team up with others, but above all to enable asynchronous communication between teammates. This is not a simple solution to find. We are going to need to take our time to innovate properly.

Now that we are on the right path, we will need the endurance to go the difference.

We need to secure recurring revenues to ensure our financial security. My business partner and I, we are going back to do some consulting. We bootstrap our startup the best we can.

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Working on the wrong idea

The biggest risks founders face when starting something new is to keep working on the wrong idea and burnout. We are now convinced that the market does not need another daily planner to manage to-do lists. This learning was a long and winding process.

Success often comes down to a very small moment when a decision is made that has a significant impact. About a year ago, we decided to improve our daily planner by adding the ability to team up with others. At the time, this decision to share to-do lists with your close ones seemed like a secondary feature.

Lately we have finally realized that it should become the main feature of our service. We experienced the “Aha!” moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, and comprehension… that we are working on the wrong idea.

This awareness explains why the DayTickler product is still not available. We did not want to invest anymore in a product that is never going to be viable.

The main service of DayTickler is not anymore, a daily planner but instead, a creativity space to team up and do what is important today. We are back to the drawing board.

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Team up and achieve tasks with your personal workgroup

In this post, I present one of the most promising feature of DayTickler.

An important structural element of DayTickler is the daily list. It simplifies the challenge to pair your brain with your gut by providing a schedule for what needs to be done today. Separating your “Today” list from the master “To-do” list is a clear incentive for action.

I have long assumed that this was the most important feature of DayTickler. I changed my mind recently, as I just finalized prototyping a new feature that we call “personal workgroup”. This powerful feature enables users to tickle their family, friends and buddies to team up and complete tasks.


This is much more than simply list sharing. By relying on the daily schedule, everyone can easily follow workgroup progress.

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Daily Planner

In this blog entry, I explain that we should categorize DayTickler according to the structure it promotes.

DayTickler is a productivity tools that can be classified, in a general way, as a personal tasks manager. Unfortunately, I do not think it’s a good classification. DayTickler is a mix that paired a daily calendar with a to-do list. I think rather that it should be classified as a daily planner because it is the structure that it promotes and puts forward.

This might surprise you, but committing and achieving tasks is all about structure. In my life, if there is one key lesson I have learned, and on which I have already written, which has near-universal applicability:

“We do not get better without structure”

As a matter of fact, without structure, we do not change our behavior, and we do not become successful. Unfortunately, incorporating the right structure into your daily routine is challenging. This is why you should rely on a productivity tool such as DayTickler.

I am among those who believe that a mobile app such as DayTickler must be opinionated. By design, it should lock and guide the user to do things according to his way. Put another way, there’s clearly one right way of using the application which is nice and easy, and any other way of using it makes your life difficult. It provides a recipe that not only simplifies the user experience but ensures to achieve results. Recipe limits the options so that users are not thrown off course by externalities. When users follow a recipe they are relying on structure to simplify the complexity and improve the odds of success.

The most important structural element of DayTickler is the daily schedule.


Separating the “Today” schedule from the master “To-do” list of everything that need to be done is a clear incentive for action. If the user schedule its daily commitments, he (or she) is much more likely to achieve them. It is as if the act of scheduling that increase the moral obligation. The “Today” schedule lets the user focus on what must be done today, while the “To-Do” list gives the user a place to dump every little task he (or she) think that someday must get done.

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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.