Tomo (友): Friend (in Japanese).
Time management made easier for your tasks, made easiest for you.
Tomo is a time management product that makes your schedule for you, based on your energy level and what task categories you want to work on for the day, with only a few clicks, resulting in a significant reduction in time spent on time management.
Type and Scope
Solo, conceptual project. An Android app.
April 4, 2022 - April 17, 2022: Solo design sprint.
May 28, 2022 - June 14, 2022: Usability test, final prototype.
Skills Used
Competitive analysis, Figma, product design, prototyping, secondary research, user interface design, user interviews, usability tests, and wireframing.
Problem Statement
Remote work gets more and more widespread every day, and time management is more important than ever; yet the current time management and productivity products still face the following problems, resulting in a poorer user experience than users want and deserve:
Proper time management became a task on its own.
When sh*t happens (it always happens), it is very tedious to re-make your schedule.
Time management tools work for your tasks, not for you.
A time management product with an automated dynamic scheduling feature that (re-)makes your schedule for you, based on your energy level, and what task categories you want to work on for the day, with only a few clicks, resulting in a significant reduction in time spent on time management.
Preliminary User Interviews
I have kicked off this project with preliminary users interviews with the following goals:
  1. To understand how people manage their time,
  2. To learn what tools they use, and how they use them,
  3. To learn about the problems they encounter with,
  4. To understand what their ideal time management tool would be like.
During this research phase, I had three very lengthy user interviews and several relatively short interviews.
"That being said I am a bit stressed about the workload. I should only handle the urgent task today and put my best effort from tomorrow." - Interviewee O.K.
SOO many thanks to O.K.; for letting me share this part from his diary.
Key Learnings from Preliminary User Interviews
People who consider their lives to be "disordered" prefer to not make any schedules and not use any time management tools, even if they think that they would benefit greatly from them.
Daily energy levels and moods are very important factors for people to consider while making their daily schedules.
It is extremely tedious to bring schedules to the date when users do not or could not regularly update them.
Competitive Analysis
As I had planned to run a solo design sprint of two weeks, and I was satisfied with the outcome of my preliminary interviews, I had decided to spend the rest of the time allocated for research on extensive competitive analysis.
The purposes of this competitive analysis were:
  1. To understand the common layout patterns they use.
  2. To learn what features users of time management tools look for.
  3. To learn more in detail about people's current problems with their time management.
  4. To see what solutions were proposed for these common problems and how the problems I had learned about during the preliminary user interviews are solved.
Key Learnings from Competitive Analysis
All time management tools ignore the fact that sh*t happens.
Making your daily schedule truly became a task on its own.
Most time management tools cognitively overload their users.
Most time management tools use very similar interfaces*.
*Just after I had completed the first iteration of Tomo's prototype, I had a chance to have a discussion with the CEO of quite a successful time management product that is about to launch a new product. Upon taking a look at the prototype I designed, they told me "Because in my experience getting people to use new productivity apps is really hard and having a completely different interface than to what they are used to, makes it harder", which was quite insightful and helpful.
So, what now?
Based on my research, I have concluded that a time management product that I would be designing ought...
to make the user's schedule based on their energy levels and moods.
to be extremely easy to use, and reduce the time spent on time management significantly.
to allow the user to (re-)make their schedule based on their input with only a few clicks.
to be there for the user when sh*t happens.
not to clutter the user's mind with unnecessary information at any time.
to allow the user to focus on "one task at a time".
Automated Dynamic Scheduling Joins the Party!
While conducting competitive analysis, I had come across some products with partially automated schedule making (e.g., ↗), but I had noticed that they were not making the best use of a feature with a business opportunity with immense value.
After a brainstorming process, I have come up with a task prioritization and sorting algorithm, computationally so simple, that even a beginner like me can code, which I call Automated Dynamic Scheduling.
The algorithm re-queues user tasks based on user inputs (task actions, energy level, task categories) and task properties (due date and time, priority, and appx. time to complete), and further, this can be achieved only with a few clicks, any time the user wants.
In cases where the algorithm has only partial information, the product would prompt the user, asking them to choose between equal options.
Goals and Method
After I had completed Tomo's first prototype at the end of my two-week solo design sprint, it was finally the time to test it with users, so the following questions in my mind would be answered:
  1. How easy or hard is it to complete the most common actions?
  2. Given Tomo has a different interface than most similar products, how well or poorly would users find it?
  3. Which of the two different "daily onboarding" flows that I had designed would users prefer?
  4. Is there any error I had somehow committed and missed?
Then, I conducted an ONLINE unmoderated usability test in which six participants would complete six tasks and answer two additional questions. The tasks they were asked to complete are as follows.
Usability Test Statistics and Key LEARNINGS
Avg. Duration
Avg. Score
Let Tomo know how you feel and pick task categories to work on.
81.45 seconds
Complete this daily onboarding flow.
30.70 seconds
Check Tomo's suggestion and take an action.
96.14 seconds
Delete your current task.
16.44 seconds
Check a future task.
28.51 seconds
Mark a future task as completed on List View.
40.73 seconds
At the end of the usability test, each test participant was asked if they had any suggestions or feedback regarding their experience using Tomo, and some were kind enough to provide several actionable items, as follows.
"The color scheme may be changed to have easier navigation and less strain on the eyes. The current colors sometimes prevent the human eye to distinguish between the different compartments of the app."
"The suggestion bar needs to be more visible."
"Sometimes, the add task FAB blocks elements' visibility."
As I was not able to decide between two "daily onboarding" flows, the most important insight that I was looking for from this usability test was the test participants' choices on them: (i) which one they would rate higher (or lower), (ii) which one they would state to prefer, and (iii) which one they would take shorter (or longer) to complete.
*Flow B was designed merely for test purposes with a time restriction at a mid-fi quality. See the final daily onboarding flow below.
Automated Dynamic Scheduling
With only a few clicks, Tomo makes your schedule within seconds, based on how you feel and what you want to work on.

Furthermore, after every action you take, Tomo re-makes your schedule and makes sure that you meet your goals.

No need to worry about the sh*t that happens, Tomo always got your back.
A Schedule that Frees Your Mind
No more complex, hard-to-comprehend tables, calendars, or whatnot.

Say farewell to calendar Tetris!

Tomo got your back and will let you know only when your attention is required, so free your mind of the future, and just focus on the present.

You don't have to clutter your mind with long to-do lists and future tasks, Tomo is here for you.
"A to-do list with just one task on it reflects a strategic and intentional choice about what you will do next, and continue to focus on until it’s done. It might feel silly, but writing that one thing down on its own list is the key—it makes it a commitment that you’re far more likely to follow through on. Make meaningful progress, one task at a time." - Peter Bregman, Your To-Do List is, in Fact, Too Long ↗
What did I do?
After reading Jake Knapp’s Sprint ↗, I decided on a solo design sprint, that would take two weeks, with the goal of having a complete prototype to be user tested later. Given the time restriction set, I had known that I could not take too long on primary user research, thus after conducting several interviews, I have moved to competitive analysis, so I would be learning from their rights and wrongs, get a more realistic view of the time management and productivity landscape, and more importantly, see what they delivered upon their own user research. After spending one week on research, I started working on the first complete prototype of Tomo, my time management app, and within two weeks, I was able to meet my goal.
After that, I conducted a usability test with six participants, to see how well or bad Tomo’s usability is. As I couldn’t completely make my mind up on two different “daily onboarding” flows, the test participants’ choosing one over another by a large margin immensely helped me. Per their feedback and the usability test results, many changes to the prototype were made as described above, and a new daily onboarding flow was designed as the one used in the usability test was created merely for test purposes at a mid-fi quality at best.
Key Learnings from This Project
Compared to my last design project, I had made much better use of a design system, no matter how basic it is. This drastically cut the time spent on design.
If you don’t have sufficient resources (time, labor, and/or money) to conduct very extensive user research, sometimes, it is better to focus more on secondary research.
Simplicity in design does not equate to simplicity in function. A time management product can be simplistic in design yet could be extremely hard to use. It is a much harder task to maintain simplicity in function than simplicity in design.
There will always be research participants that will surprise you and challenge even your most basic assumptions: Always test your hypotheses, AND the earlier it is, the better it is FOR YOUR PRODUCT.