It might seem like working long hours would make you better at your job, but the opposite is actually true: It can make you less productive and lower the quality of your work. (Even worse, it also makes you more likely to die early). A new product concept from U.K. design student Lucas Neumann aims to help by telling you exactly what to do so you can finish work early—like a friendly version of a robot boss.
Neumann designed the product for freelance workers with flexible hours, who might be more likely to procrastinate and get distracted by an avalanche of information online. But it probably could be helpful for anyone who's stuck in front of a computer all day and has trouble concentrating.
The tool, called Bossy, is a physical device that sits on a desktop, rather than yet another app. "When I was doing research, I started installing all of these organization apps in my phone and on my Mac," says Neumann. "But I realized that after time we stop engaging with particular apps because we're dealing with too much stuff."
Bossy is a constant reminder of whatever's next on your to-do list, so you never have to open an app or check in. "I realized that if you have something that sits there with you all the time, off your phone and computer—while at the same time connected with everything—it might be easier to create a relationship with it and a long-lasting kind of engagement," Neumann explains.
The simple white device connects to your calendars, to-do lists, apps, and wearable tech, and then displays your top three priorities. Once you finish something, you push a button—made squishy so it's more satisfying—and the device records your progress on a separate desktop and mobile app, offering badges and other rewards as you improve. Over time, it learns how you work in order to be more helpful. It can also remind you to stand up, stretch, drink water, or take breaks, and if you're feeling overwhelmed by various feeds online, a swipe of a button on the device will shut down the noise.
Neumann created the design for an RSA student challenge that asked for solutions for the way we'll work in the future. "It's looking 15 or 20 years ahead," he says. Still, the technology and predictive analysis used in the design are already available, so in theory, the product could be built now.
For the moment, Neumann wants to tweak some details of the hardware—a special white screen that he wants to use, for example, isn't available yet on the market. But as he researches the concept with freelancers at coworking spaces and elsewhere, he's already getting requests to make it right away.