Study Buddy

A productivity app for people who get distracted by the same screen based devices they rely on to get work done. This is a personal project that seeks to improve upon the insights of previous university work and combine them with a closer look at mobile design.

My Contributions
UX Research & Prototyping

Personal Project
January 2019


Study buddy combines a to-do list, the pomodoro method, and screen blocking ‘focus mode’ to improve students’ focus with screen based tasks. 
Intention Setting

Using a to-do list as the main point of interaction allows for tasks to be added throughout the day at a user’s convenience, as well as a way to start a focused session with  specific goals.
Collapsible Focus

Starting a focus session creates a simple, distraction free enviroment on your phone. However, it’s still possible to navigate away when necessary.
Notification Breaks

Notifications from limited apps are withheld until a break period is activated, where they are then quick to access from the break screen. This is to reduce becoming overly distracted by open surfing.
Flow Prompting

Completing a task results in a celebratory moment. Performance specifics for the task are purposefully hidden, and emphasis is instead placed on starting another task.
Suggested Limits

When a user distractedly finishes a task, the tone remains celebratory while allowing the user to quickly limit an app or site for the following tasks. 



Screen time is destroying my productivity, yet I need to use screens in order to be productive. While to movement to reclaim our attention spans from addictive design is gaining popularity, most existing reactions to the issue focus on quitting, reseting, or enforcing hard limits on some aspect of screen use without aknowledging their increasing necesessity or the blurring lines between social media and career growth. How could I create better digital productivity habits that adapt to my needs?
This prompted a revisit of an older project done during my time at university, where we were tasked with using design research methods to find a viable product space for potentially divisive technology. For our team that technology was gaze tracking: the ability to detect what someone is looking at, for how long, and to what degree of engagement. The project was mainly a thought experiment, but the research covered relevant areas in the digital productivity space that could point to a solution.

An artifact from the university project

In addition to the applicable findings from the previous project, I conducted a competitive analysis of existing digital productivity tools. I dropped the hypothetical tech, and also added the constraints of designing mobile first and with Material Design constraints as an attempt to bring the project into a more feasible scope.

Reclaimed Research

We arrived at a research question by finding a readily available demographic in a situation where gaze tracking technology could exist.

Research Activities

  • Contextual inquiry of nine students with varying degrees of social media use and school involvement

  • ‘Circle of trust’ exercise to rank various popular apps and corresponding data permissions. Permissions were seperated from apps to gauge participants’ awareness of data surveillance in realtion to their perceived trustworthiness of different prodcuts.

Product Landscape

After pivoting I conducted an audit of the digital wellness and productivity landscape, which was informed by the previous research. Software I looked at fell into thee main categories:

  • Pomodoro style apps
  • Team productivity
  • Screen Blockers


Insights from the initial interviews and activities were synthesized using affinity mapping. They were then reviewed in the contex of the pivot and the additional product landscape findings in order to synthesize new principles for this project.

Focus related insights from the previous project’s research

Principles derived from insights + competitive analysis


I used Adobe XD to prototype multiple flows, focusing on areas that would best illustrate the design prinicples. Designs went through three cycles of iteration: 

  1. Test & embody Information Architecture
  2. Revise UX & normalize elements
  3. Refine Material Guidelines & Visual Design
Iterations of the short break screen.

Information Architecture

Emphasis was placed on the to do list as the main point of interaction. As blocking behavior would vary across users, it would still provide utility and a framework for building better productivity habits.

To Do List
Serves as a place to take notes on assignments and other tasks throughout the day as well as place to set intentions before a work session.

Limit Distractions
Keep track of your use of various screens and quickly impose limits on those that distract you too often

Personal Settings
In addition to the basic account account info, users can also schedule reminder notifications for work sessions. There is also a possible area for managing multiple devices.

Focus Mode
Entered through the To-Do list, Focus Mode activates any limits imposed on apps until the task is complete or a break is taken.

Additional Flows
Low fidelity flows were created to further explore the information architecture and additional features before creating a higher fidelity hero sequence.