Why We Build Bluebird

From what to do, to what to become

Published in
6 min readFeb 17, 2020


In the space station, a bluebird is holding a checklist pad and watching into the space.

Why do we want to be productive?

The answer appears obvious — time is limited, the more things we’re able to get done, the better.

But something doesn’t feel right. If we enjoy what we’re doing, we’d naturally want to prolong that experience, instead of squeezing more things into a short period of time. Eating one donut makes me happy, eating ten donuts in 30 minutes makes me crappy.

The truth is we don’t enjoy most of our to-dos. We want to be able to finish more of the unpleasant, to save time for what makes us happy and our life meaningful.

But time is finite, and we’re mortal. We’re too overwhelmed to realize that we get to choose. We can struggle to have everything under control or accept the reality that the beauty of life is in the present. “The powerful play goes on, and we may all contribute a verse.”

That’s why we build Bluebird.

In Bluebird, you don’t feel the pressure to fill in every slot and to check off as many to-dos as possible. We want to build a place where it’s easier to get started with things we enjoy doing, where we are encouraged to walk along our paths step by step, to get inspired by our daily progress, and to see our life unfolding.

Productivity is a mean, not an end. We want people to be able to do what they like and achieve something along the way. It’s too hard a goal to achieve for a tiny to-do & focus timer app, but we may contribute a verse.

Life is a journey we take, step by step. Charlie Munger once said:

Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up… Step by step you get ahead, but not necessarily in fast spurts.

We hope Bluebird can help you walk along your paths, make daily progress, and get started to become.

App Store Screenshots of the Bluebird App

Bluebird’s Manual of Getting Started

1. Start with “why”

We all have our whys. We do things for the sake of other things. But eventually, our goal is to find “happiness.” Because happiness is an end sufficient in itself, and it is about being present, a sense of contentment, that everything is fine.

“Happiness is the settling of the soul into its most appropriate spot.” — Aristotle

One good start is to create something meaningful with our own hands. Those “I made that” moments combine our past and future — we see ourselves growing into a better being.

Tag as a reminder of your path

2. Set durations

When your to-dos are about creation, not attending random meetings, they’re going to be challenging. That’s why you need to take step by step. The brain needs time to change, especially after the age of 25*. Incremental learning is the key, where little by little becomes a lot.

Therefore, when setting durations, instead of thinking about how long the whole thing is going to take, ask how long do you plan to spend on that path, each time? How often do you want to work on that task? Learn French for 30 minutes every day, read 1 hour each night before sleep, practice 2 hours of video editing every weekend, be specific.

A sample to-do with the duration on the right

These durations and repetitions are your commitments to your future, and they will take you far.

You are what you repeat.

3. Get started with the focus timer

Getting started changes everything. Use focus mode to take that very first step. Just set a timer, and tap the start button.

Try to stay focused for the time you set. Focus not on the change in time, but the change in yourself. Instead of saying “one hour has passed and it’s still not finished,” tell yourself, “I’ve been walking on this path for one hour.”

Your focused time will be visualized as a progress bar under the corresponding task.

Completing a task

See your progress, celebrate your effort, and repeat.

When getting tired, tell yourself, “I’m on the right path.”

The path of becoming.

4. Things don’t go as planned. Make that part of the plan.

Planning to-dos into specific time blocks has many downsides.

First, work expands to fill the time available. Setting a specific time to your to-dos often means surrendering yourself to your schedule.

Second, things seldom go according to plan. Every attempt to impose order leaves something outside the frame. In this busy-changing world, a fixed plan is not really a good plan. The traditional calendar view of to-dos brings the illusion of having everything under control. But when they don’t, it brings panic.

Above all, we only know how we’d like to use our time when that moment comes. Our energy levels and mental state change. We’re human, not machines. Life requires space to breathe, and space for mistakes.

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. — John Lennon

Manage the mind, not time

Time is always out of control, but our mind is not. Being present brings us clarity. With clarity, we see what truly matters. With a stressless mind, we realize we can slow down. We then make better decisions, we work less hard while achieving more. Productivity becomes the side effect, not the goal.

In the end, being happy is productive.

We hope Bluebird can help you build a “present” mindset when dealing with time — to slow down and get started with what truly matters.

Birds are free, free to go anywhere.

They belong to the sky, not to a cage.

To-dos are birds, the happy birds that chirp in your dream.

The dream of becoming.

Set them free.

When we travel, we say “to travel is to evolve.” To-dos are your travels, they expand your life. May the bluebird of happiness cross your path.

Bluebird 2.0 is available for download on the App Store.

About us

Bluebird is made by Cub & Pup, a two-person indie team. We craft apps that bring joy to your life, with lots of love ❤️.

Find us on Twitter

Comics: @IndieLifeComics | Developer: @limited_dfs | Designer: @topologiraffe

  • * To know more about our brain’s ability to change even after we become adults, aka neuroplasticity, I recommend these readings.
  • ** The idea of absolute time is a modern invention. In the book The Order of Time, the author mentioned that people used to conceive time as a measurement of how things change: the cycles of the moon, the number of times that an hourglass is turned, etc. Not the change in time, but the change in things. Not digital, but analog.