In an 'always-on' office age, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy work/life balance. Emails take up a huge amount of time - one study in the US estimated people spend 6.3 hours a day checking emails (roughly split between work and personal). Some have suggested that we're turning into human routers, forwarding on information without making meaningful decisions.
Even if you are efficient, being connected at all times can have a negative effect on long-term productivity and mental health.
Stress accounts for 40% of cases of workplace sickness in the UK while a term has even been coined to describe the fear of being without your phone 'nomophobia'.
Aditya Mukherjee founded Nizam after spending seven years in an office environment working as an economic analyst in the oil and gas industry. He learnt first-hand how office processes and ingrained ways of working could hamper productivity. It was there that he started thinking about simple ways to improve efficiency.
For years, he says, his ideas about business efficiency developed 'germinating in his head passively'. But in September 2015, following his conversion to Islam which fundamentally changed how he viewed business, he quit his job to work on Nizam.
The plan was to devote a two-year period to the project to see if it gained traction. He reasoned that you could spend the same amount of time on an MBA but that would just be like reading a manual in order to learn how to ride a bicycle. He wanted to hit the road.
Nizam is a company that aims to 'make people's lives easier while they work at a desktop.'
Using in-depth research into behaviour, the startup intends to help you work faster, harder and with less stress.
'People experience anxiety from frantic multi-tasking,' says Aditya. 'Switching your attention uses up energy.'
Nizam is in the middle of developing a programme which uses 'bio-cybernetic feedback' to let you know how often you change your focus. The computer works out how often you change tasks, for example, by changing tabs, and then feeds back. It tells you how much you focused during the day, how many tasks you completed and how that measured up with the previous day's activity.
This type of programme is needed badly. Studies have shown that on average people spend 11 minutes on a task before being distracted and that it can take 25 minutes to return to the original task, if at all. There are apps that are designed to help you - for example by stopping you from accessing the internet (Freedom) or by helping you plan your time the Pomodoro Technique but these focus more on restricting people's behaviour, rather than changing it.
The six-person team has other plans to make sure you work better including a system that will connect the time you spend on email by 50% as well as an Excel-type system, based on visual prompts rather than numerical ones, that will help eliminate spreadsheet errors (it's been estimated that over 90% or spreadsheets contain at least one).
The former analyst, who's taught himself how to write software and to programme, is tightlipped about future projects. He's focusing on building something that he and a small selection of people will use over and over again for a prolonged period of time. Then he'll market it to big corporations.
Much of what Nizam does is based on neuroscience research, which usually stays within the pages of academic journals.
Aditya has been bolstered by the support of famous neuroscientists Jeff Lichtman, Matt Lieberman and Jeff Schwartz. His team is made up of a neuroscience post-graduate; a computer science student and expert in databases and programming; Asya, who is an 'innovation consultant' and smooths the path from idea to product; as well as Gareth Bowers, his co-founder who helps 'translate his ideas into practical reality.'
Aditya is currently working at the Club Workspace on Chancery Lane - coworking was the 'cheapest option', where he's met others doing similar things. The aim is to get the first part of the Nizam offer onto the market by the end of 2017.
Between then and now, the team is developing a prototype, testing it, finding funding and then marketing it to big companies. Regarding finance, Aditya favours government grants that will allow him to work between the computer science and neuroscience departments in universities.
So I ask Aditya, while Nizam is in development, what are the easy ways freelancers and entrepreneurs can work better and with less stress. He advises a six-hour workday and 'more breaks, more sport, more reading.' He's adamant about the last piece of advice: 'Without reading you are decaying intellectually.'
And it's certainly his omnivorous reading habits that explain why Aditya is so open to the world and how we navigate it. 'I hope we can positively challenge all types of stereotypes, about business, about computing, about neuroscience and about religion.'
Adiya's top five business books:
1. For the creator in you, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
2. For the business manager, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernow
3. The Messenger: The Meanings of the Life of Muhammad by Tariq Ramadan ('Through his character, he was a great marketer,' Aditya explains)
4. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott,
And finally 5. The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Investors and Managers by Warren Buffett
Nizam is just one of the many businesses based at Club Workspace Chancery Lane. Keen to join Adiya and become a Club Workspace member yourself? Check out our three co-working membership packages, as well as bespoke offers for individual Club locations here.