Why We Build Bluebird

From what to do, to what to become

Under the productivity category, there’re tons of apps aiming to help you get more things done, and save more time. Working efficiently is always the goal. But why?

No matter how productive we are, our to-do list is always full. Time saved by being productive is often filled with more work. We work hard to gain what we must work harder to keep. This doesn’t feel right.

The problem is, when we focus too much on getting more things done, it’s easy to confuse wanting with liking. Checking off to-do lists feels good when we’re busy, but in the end, what makes us happy is doing what we like. In this busy world where everyone is driven by “more,” it’s easy to get lost and forget where we want to get to.

When we slow down, we pay attention to what truly matters. We start to build a to-become list, not a to-do list. We define our paths.

Life is a long walk along those paths, step by step. As 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, and get started to become.

App Store screenshots of Bluebird

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.

What brings happiness then? Some believe that by sacrificing “now” there will be a happy life waiting ahead — they live in the future. But happiness is about being present, it’s a sense of contentment, that everything is fine.

Happiness is knowing what we like, being able to do what we like, and maybe achieving something along the way.

One good start is to create something meaningful with our own hands. Those “I made that” moments combine our past and future — we walk along the paths of becoming, and we see ourselves growing into a better being. Those are our “whys.”

The problem is that our schedule is often filled with have-tos. We hope Bluebird can be a stressless place where you can put down your choose-tos, your hopes, your dreams, a place where to-dos feel more like to-becomes.

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.

Tag as a reminder of your path

2. Set durations

If your to-dos are about creation, not attending random meetings, they’re not gonna be easy. That’s why you need to take it step by step. Especially if you’re an adult, your brain needs time to change. Incremental learning is the key, where little by little becomes a lot. The daily progress makes you happier and more engaged with your work.

Therefore, when set durations, instead of thinking about how long the whole thing is gonna take, ask yourself, how long do you want to spend on that path, each time? How often do you plan 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 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. Focus on your path, not time

Time flows. In people’s minds, there is a universal ticking clock. It measures everything, and it never stops.

But that time has no meaning. It’s just a number. When you place yourself in relation to the changing of time, it brings anxiety. You feel like life is driven by some invisible pressure.* Time crumbles things.

Let’s change perspective. Focus not on the change in time, but on 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.”

Focus and Stats page

Bluebird provides a clear view of how long you’ve focused vs. how long you planned to focus on each to-do, it visualizes this ratio with a beam representing your steps, your path, and your progress.

Completing a to-do

When feeling hard to get started, start with focus mode. It triggers your brain. Remember that “nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action” and give focus mode a try.

The path of becoming.

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

We don’t recommend planning to-dos into specific time blocks in advance. The logic behind is simple.

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 our mind, not time

Time is always out of control, but our mind is not. When we realize we can slow down and cultivate a peaceful mind, we make better decisions, we work less hard while achieving more. Productivity becomes the side effect, not the goal.

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

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

Developer: @limited_dfs | Designer: @topologiraffe

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.

Designer. Crafting Bluebird.