Your day is not a project

Ashutosh Priyadarshy author headshot

Ashutosh Priyadarshy, CEO @ Sunsama
October 1, 2020

Planning your day is an essential part of the work day but your project management tool is not the place to do that.

In the last decade, Silicon Valley has poured billions of dollars into building specialized software that helps organizations plan work. These products focus on the organization itself as the end user, because it's lucrative, and as a result the products are designed to help the organization plan in large and abstract timescales like sprints, milestones, or months. These tools profit by selling to decision makers in an organization and lack an incentive to build the tools, interfaces, and workflows that you need to execute on those plans on a daily basis.

Working out of a tools like Asana, Jira, or even Trello can cause you to work with diminished cognitive capacity. Each time you open the tool you are greeted with a massive list of tasks that aren't relevant for today. When your eyes pass over a task you need to work on in a future project it's enough to steal your concentration from the task at hand. The researcher Sophie Leroy studied and measured this diminished capacity and termed it "attention residue"; it was later popularized by Cal Newport in Deep Work. Seeing so much work that we may never get to can also feel overwhelming and demotivating which can be more devastating in the long run than working with less concentration.

Project management tools are incapable of being a single source of truth for our daily work. They fail to capture our meetings, emails and messages, smaller todos, and personal obligations that we now do during what used to be the traditional workday. Every time we switch between one of our digital tools to figure out what to do next, we risk letting our mind and attention wander.

The specific purpose of project management tools is to manage projects and we should continue to use them for what they do best. Sunsama's approach is not to replace your project management tool but to work in concert with it, and help you create an intentional, calm, and focused plan for just today.

In fact, the name Sunsama itself is an homage to the importance of this daily rhythm. Sunsama comes from the combination of the word "Sun", humanity's primordial timekeeper and the bringer of the new day, and the Japanese honorific "sama", meaning respected one.