Solving own productivity problem. The story of Y-Productive.

Alex Zhebryakov
CEO an co-founder of Y-Productive: the application that helps digital workers to keep their work and distractions under control.
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I’ve been thinking about improving my workday hundreds of times in the past. I had practiced different blends of productivity techniques, but I didn’t find software for digital workers which leveraged all these techniques and kept me going enough time to see the results. That’s how I’ve decided to start own software company. Yeah, the story of Y-Productive is the story of solving personal productivity problem.

Now, as this crazy digital world is spinning, I feel the need to help digital workers who seek for their day improvement as I do. My personal motto is “There's no time like the present”. I want to be proud of each day so I want to put my efforts in the right direction and not waste it for nothing. Do you feel the same? Follow me along to find out how I tackle it now and what are the plans for the future.

Personal Problem

The story began when I became an entrepreneur 2 years ago. I had several good corporate jobs before, but then it was so exciting to become my own boss. The top expectation was to get more freedom in what I did. And I got that freedom and was able to work from any part of the world.

‍Travelworking in Iceland

But becoming CEO of yourself brought problems with work-life balance as work started insanely consuming my time. A lot of tasks seemed critical to tackle — that’s how I went into a spiral of working more and more but accomplishing less and less. I had burnouts many times before, but the latest burn out was the most crushing one. Apathy, fever, no motivation to get out of the bed… it was around 1 year ago.

First signs of recovery started appearing only 2 weeks after. I was tired of laying on a sofa watching dumb TV series and thought about reading something valuable. Fortunately, I found “Your Brain at Work” book on my shelf written by Dr. David Rock. 

It was someone`s old gift, but for some reason, it was not on the priority reading list. Bad for me. I had started reading the book — it was a gold mine of anti-burnout advice. The book explains everything about productivity and work performance from the neuroscience perspective. The style is very engaging, no scientific boring language at all (seems I know why I was afraid to read it before).

When I finished the book, I was willing to act on a result again. I knew the next burnout is unavoidable at some point in the future, but I wanted to make it smoother. So, I tried to break down all the reasons of burnout into atoms so that I can recover my productivity little by little. As a result, I learned the weak spots I need to challenge:

  • Context switching. I worked on something, then I had a meeting — context switched. Not so bad if meetings were under control. Much worse if I worked on something, then I was distracted by colleague’s request to help him or received a phone call, or … Arrrr.
  • Distractions. Any distraction (even small) impacts productivity much worse than people think. Distractions became such a big part of our lives that we often don’t even notice them. This bitter truth astonished me when I started putting a tick in my notepad every time I was distracted.
  • Planning tasks, but not completing them. That was daunting because of lack of progress. There were many reasons for it, from helping others to planning too much for a day. Excuses, excuses, excuses…
  • Lack of planning. No planning was my natural answer to planning tasks, but not completing them. As a result, I did a lot of work but didn’t achieve any goal.
  • Procrastination. I did nothing because of wrong day planning. I didn’t account for different levels of energy throughout a day. Meetings and small tasks in the morning ate my most productive period of time. Around 2 PM I was free from helping others, but I procrastinated instead of working on my tasks. I just didn’t have enough energy for the work I planned.
  • Wrong priorities. What you don’t do is much more important than what you do. For days I worked on tasks which appeared to be unimportant. I procrastinated on these tasks because subconsciously I understood they were unimportant.
  • Working when tired. I worked Monday through Friday and sometimes on weekends, yet I was able to work or rest on any day. But I didn’t. At some days I made myself to work, however, I should have better to rest that day.
  • Wrong strategic decisions. I was busy and didn’t have time to think for a while, make a holistic assessment of a situation, and make a creative decision.

Seems like too much to handle it without additional help, right? That’s how the idea for Y-Productive sparked. 

Current Solution For a Productivity Problem

Here are a few basic steps to start with the application:

  1. Create a list of your tasks for today.
  2. Track your working progress on appropriate tasks.
  3. Categorize new websites and applications as productive or unproductive to set your very own work environment.

While automated productivity trackers propose you to figurally lay on a sofa and forget about acting on a problem, as I was a year before, Y-Productive is different. Being a blend of productivity tracker, time tracker, and task management software, it concentrates on what’s really important for your workday: actions invested to complete your goal. 

Now I get a lot out of Y-Productive application myself:

  • The structure of my work day. I know when I’ve worked, how many times I approached some task until its completion, or when I was away from a computer, etc.
  • Productivity in the context of my work. Looking at the Y-Productive chart, I can spot productivity patterns, check how many times I’ve been distracted, or even deep dive to 5 minutes to find out what exactly happened when I was supposed to proceed on a task. 
  • Review my day. You can’t improve if you don’t act on your goal. At the start of each week, I do my personal review and plan session. By doing a review, I make better conclusions about my productive and unproductive behaviors. I see real progress that I’ve done and know what I should do to improve my results. It motivates me better than anything else.

We Are Just Starting

The goal of the current phase #1 is straightforward productivity tracking software enriched with the context — your tasks for a day.

Straightforward productivity tracking (when you map websites/applications as productive/unproductive) is the solution which helps to put your efforts into the right direction, so you invest your actions and energy into a result.  

Our next goal is to be able to identify behavior patterns, both productive and unproductive, and pro-actively help our users to improve their behavior throughout workday with an AI. A smart coach in our productivity fitness, if you will. That’s the next phase #2 which would require all our experience and your support and feedback to solve such a complex challenge.

We are all ears and eagerly waiting for feedback from you.  If you want to improve your task performance and don’t want to give up on it by day 5 of your trial (like it happened to me with the most of similar apps), download Y-Productive desktop application. We have a lot of stuff to help you on your way.

Share your experience on how it works for you and you’ll help us in return. Let’s make something that really changes people’s life. Thanks a lot!

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