Happy Sunday and a very warm welcome to all the new subscribers! I’m thrilled and honored to have you as readers and truly appreciate your thoughts and feedback 🙏. Each edition of 3 Things will contain a dive into 3 rabbit holes I’ve found myself going down recently. Subscribe to get each week’s edition straight to your inbox and if you enjoy it, please share (I suck at self-promotion so can use your help)! This past week I’ve been thinking a lot about:
1. Walk Scheduler
Working from home has brought a tremendous amount of flexibility and even increased productivity for knowledge workers. On average, a person who is now working from home has increased their productivity by 13% which is quite significant. One aspect of daily life that has been negatively impacted is the reduction in physical movement that employees are getting in a given day. Numerous studies have shown that employees who work from home sit for longer (up to 4 additional hours per day), get less exercise, and are generally more sedentary. Across all ages from 25-70, the people who work from home 100% of the time experience the highest levels of inactivity and this demographic has grown massively during the pandemic with many workers still remaining remote today.
For many people, once you start your day, it’s one thing after the next and by the time you’re done working, it’s hard to find the energy to do any kind of exercise. There have been numerous smart calendar companies such as Motion (SignalFire portfolio company), Clockwise, or Reclaim which try to help auto-schedule your day. These are mostly focused on optimizing work time and wrangling team schedules (which is a huge pain). A very simple calendar extension could be a walk scheduler/reminder. It would pair with an Apple Watch or other wearable and use that data and your calendar to carve out small chunks of time during the day when you are free to get some steps in (or pushups or squats or whatever you want to do in a few minutes). If you want to get fancy, you can even monitor behavior to identify times when you’re not in a scheduled video meeting and not actively engaged in pure work tasks (ie on social media) and send a push notification to your watch and computer to get moving. You can easily gamify it with streaks, challenges, team modes, and more.
2. Link Aggregator
For knowledge workers, our days are filled with endless emails, docs, navigating through various systems of record, and Googling. We are constantly bouncing between tabs and spend on average ~3.5 hours a day searching for information. Finding what you need in the moment is a huge challenge in general which has spawned a number of enterprise search companies like Glean and Seva. One of my absolute favorite productivity tools is OneTab which collapses all of your open tabs into a single doc that pulls in the HTML Title Tag for each as a link and timestamps them for easy search and discovery. When you want to restore a tab or series of tabs, you can just click it. It cleans up your browser and reduces memory consumption while giving you peace of mind that you’ll be able to find things when you need to.
Tons of valuable information is communicated through emails and docs, and the majority contain numerous links to additional sources, websites, and related materials. After you’ve triaged the email or closed the doc, finding the links is beyond challenging. I want an extension for Gmail and Google Docs that scans all of my emails and docs for links and parses them out into a folder that contains context on where it was from, subject line/title, who sent or created it (and who was CCed or other collaborators), timestamps, and a list of other links in same email or doc. Bonus points for also adding attachments from emails! This could turn into your go-to place to search for information as often you’re looking for a link that will take you to the right place. Since it will track where the link originally came from, if you want to go back to the original email or doc, that would be easy. This could be the trojan horse solution to enterprise search.
3. Weighted Sweatshirts
Weighted blankets were originally created to help people who have autism spectrum disorders, dementia, or other mental health conditions as a part of occupational therapy called sensory integration therapy. Over the last decade, weighted blankets have become a mass market product with companies like Gravity, Bearaby, Luna, and many more selling $100-300 blankets direct-to-consumer. Many people describe the feeling of being under a weighted blanket like a hug. The blankets are made out of an external fabric that can be almost anything which is quilted and filled with micro glass beads, plastic poly pellets, steel beads, or less frequently sand, pebbles, or grains. The filling is sewn into pockets throughout the blanket to get even distribution and the ability to modulate the weight from a few pounds all the way up to 25+ lbs.
Weighted blankets are purported to have numerous benefits including reduction in stress and anxiety, improving sleep quality, easing symptoms of chronic pain, and providing overall comfort and security. The weighted blanket works through a technique called deep pressure stimulation which is similar to the effect that a swaddle has on a baby. The weighted blanket market is currently ~$700m, up 175% in the last 3 years and growing at a CAGR of 14%. With the increasing rates of anxiety, loneliness, depression, stress, and other mental health issues and the massive adoption of athleisure apparel, a brand can create a weighted sweatshirt that is a mix of both fashion and function. Focusing on the mental health angle could create a lot of differentiation and press. Partner with meditation apps, mental health companies, and relevant influencers for distribution and acquisition and over time, you could start adding in your own apps and community.
That’s all for today! If you have thoughts, comments, or want to get in touch, find me on Twitter at @ezelby and if you enjoyed this, please subscribe and share with a friend or two!