Few people think twice about their work habits. As long as the deed gets done, little mind gets paid towards the process. Sleep and well-being become matter-of-fact sacrifices, and a lack of methodology seems to be common.
After speaking to students on campus, we found that even though people meet roadblocks and become overwhelmed or unmotivated, more often than not they expect the moment to pass and therefore don't prescribe a change in work habits. We also found that students with dedicated work spaces (i.e. studio spaces for art students) found motivation in seeing other people work. People without dedicated work spaces like to work in groups to achieve the same effect. Some even Skype or keep in contact with others while working in order to keep themselves in check.
Some also cited the feeling of being overwhelmed as a common trigger for bad work habits. Therefore, a support system or human presence was crucial to individuals working remotely. A percentage of people cited distractions as the instigator of bad time management. If distracted, it became very difficult to get back to work. Even water or food breaks could potentially lead to procrastination.
With knowledge of people's work habits, we wanted to keep people on task through reminders, words of encouragements, and tips for better time management. These products would have to have low barriers of engagement and be intuitive to use. We set out to integrate our message into the workflow of a typical student at Carnegie Mellon working by his/herself.
The digital piece engages its audience at the precipice of distraction. We created a Google chrome plug-in that pops up customizable messages every time users attempt to go to a website they flagged as distracting. The plug-in uses a settings page to customize the pop-up messages and listing distraction websites.
The spatial piece is built around the idea that everyone takes water breaks in between working, but not everyone returns from these water breaks ready to work. We distributed water bottles with words of encouragement while gently nudging the audience to get back to work.
The print piece is a set of table cards placed in public workspaces that may be picked up and read by distracted students in between working. We printed tips for improving work management on the card along with instructions for finding our Chrome extension to draw a connection to the digital piece.
We used tangled strings to visualize the idea of being stuck or overwhelmed by work and played around with different compositions given the medium in use. The intentional use of bright colors speak to a younger audience and were careful not to use language that was too didactic or accusatory as to not stress students out even more.