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Quayce Thomas and check-in friend Josh Bastian. Photo provided.

An Ottawa-made app helps you build better habits and improve mental health with accountability

By Andrew Monro on December 6, 2018

Andrew Monro is Apt613’s correspondent at Impact Hub Ottawa, writing about the many innovators that call Hub home. Hub is a co-working space at 123 Slater Street for projects with a positive local and global impact.

Timsle wants to help people stay accountable and take care of themselves.

The Ottawa-based technology startup is releasing its flagship app of the same name this December, with the goal of helping people around the world improve their physical and mental health.

The app is simple to use: to get started, you choose a habit or practice you want to commit to. You can then select up to five people as “accountability buddies.” When you complete your activity, you check in using the app, and your buddies can then pass or flag it, acknowledging your effort. When you have difficulty, or aren’t doing your activity at your decided rate, the app notifies your buddies, giving them an opportunity to help motivate you to keep going.

Quayce Thomas, Timsle’s founder, came up with the idea after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. “I dropped out of school, stopped all my activities,” he says. “I was frustrated that this mental condition was forcing me to choose what I could and couldn’t do.”

He started studying how daily actions influenced mental well-being. He learned that they play an important role in influencing one’s overall mental health. His challenge became building healthy routines into his day, allowing him to get back to the things he was doing before his diagnosis. “It was still quite difficult, because my energy level was low; I was sleeping all the time.”

After Quayce received his diagnosis, a member of his soccer team, Josh, noticed that he had withdrawn. Josh told him he was there if he ever needed to talk or just check in to say he was alright.

“I discovered that being accountable to just this one person made a huge difference in my life.”

“I thought about how cool it was that somebody cared about me enough to do this, especially with what I was going through,” Quayce says. “I discovered that being accountable to just this one person made a huge difference in my life. I started to get better over time and felt like I was slowly getting control of my life back.”

“When things are difficult and overwhelming, it takes a lot of work to do simple things. But by putting on your shoes and going to for walk or run and making it part of your routine, that can make a huge difference. I created Timsle for others with mental illness to be able to commit to their own goals while staying accountable to friends and family.”

Quayce started development for the app, based out of Impact Hub Ottawa, as an outcome of research he was doing in the field of mental health and lifestyle. Over the summer, the app completed a beta phase, with over 30 people taking part in testing it out. Since then, the technology startup has also grown from just Quayce to a team of four people working on the app.

Quayce is grateful for all the help and support his partner and his family have given him, and especially those who have helped him stay accountable to his own goals.

Once the app goes live, Quayce plans to find a new office space for his team and will be collaborating with researchers at Carleton University to use Timsle to help Indigenous youth transitioning between secondary and post-secondary education. He is also interested in partnering with other organizations that are looking for ways to help motivate their own clients to do well.