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  • Writer's pictureMayank Mishra

What is a product that does not yet exist but should?

A product that does not exist but should is a tool that helps distributed teams work productively by eliminating constant context switches (1000+ times per day on average).

These frequent context switches happen because there are so many tools that are being used by an individual and their team(12+ tools on average), the majority of these tools are in silos.

Increasingly a lot of work happens on web tools(Figma, Notion, Slack, Email..) but the browsers were not designed for work, still, that's where most of it happens and All this results in constant context switching, killing productivity.

This problem was amplified in a distributed work setting where every interaction with teams became an ad-hoc request as no one in the team has visibility about what the other person is working on and in which tool, hence they are asking everything via IM like Slack.

A lot of these ad-hoc requests start falling through the cracks as it becomes unmanageable for an individual to manage all these asks coming from different people, across channels with a range of deadlines, priorities, and input required.

All this results in burnout.

This was a personal problem for our team and we tried all kinds of hacks on tools within Slack, Docs, Notion, Evernote, Diaries, Stickies, and so on but every time we had to switch contexts or faced challenges in sharing and/or collaborating.

Context switching is one of the major causes of reduced productivity( accounting for ~30%), every time a person switches context, it takes ~23 minutes to mentally get back to focus on the work. Research tells us that people switch between tools ~1100 times across 35 tools every single day.

All this has a huge toll on mental breakdown.

The traditional tools fail to be helpful as these tasks are ad-hoc,i.e. They dont end up in a typical PM tool, their life is usually under a week but they have high urgency. Ad-hoc requests are generally what people used to ask or share face to face in an office setting, now it has taken the form of a message.

There is a need for a product which step 1) aggregates all these ad-hoc requests coming from across the tools people use (eg. Slack, Gdocs, sheets, Notion, Figma, Email, etc)

And then help them act upon these items right in the tool of their choice.

This will require the tool to help prioritize, schedule, collaborate and update these items.

The tool will have to facilitate most of its functions within the tools i.e. in the context, for eg: Inside Slack, Figma, G-Docs, Notion, etc so that the users stay in the flow as long as possible. Building native apps are a viable option wherever there is a possibility. However, there will be some limitations with these tools, which will need a place to look and act at everything together with complete freedom.

Over time the app can learn and help automate these tasks for each workflow, significantly reducing the time users spend on each task.

The tool will ultimately help its users achieve a state of "TASK ZERO" i.e. a zen state where there is no more work.

Since there was no such tool and there was a burning need for a solution, I and my cofounder have started building Poppins.

Our vision is to build Task Zero for every employee.

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