Focus On The App Within

Brennen Reece wrote a great piece describing the way he gets things done. The Bullet Journal has become popular with paper-based system fans because it is pretty simple, scales, and is flexible to a point. Systems like Patrick Rhone’s Dash/Plus and my Strikethrough System work well for their respective users because, like The Bullet Journal, they offer something that really does help with the building of a foundation – or a “trusted system” as David Allen would say.

There are a ton of task management apps out there. I’d go as far as to say there are too many for the person who wants to use one because they wind up spending a ton of time exploring their options instead of really getting familiar with one and sticking with it. I’ve used many of these apps, and I still do experiment with them because that’s part of the work that I do.

But it’s not all of the work that I do.

Over the past several years of building up my expertise in this field, I’ve built an internal foundation. I know what works for me and what doesn’t, and I know how to bend an app or tool if I really want to use it. I also know when a tool or app just won’t bend the way I want it to, and I abandon those ones soon after putting through the paces.

Ultimately – and for the lack of a better term – I’ve learned to focus on the app within.

No tool will get the work done for you, regardless of how much “front end” work or setup you’ve done with it. No app will work exactly how you do, unless you build it yourself or bend it to fit your own way of working.1 No system will work effectively without someone to guide it that strongly believes in it.

So the next time you see a shiny new app, tool, or system, look inward first and let that inform your decision on whether or not you’ll spend time exploring the unfamiliar. Taking time to do that won’t just keep you moving…it will keep you moving in the right direction.

1 That’s why adding modes to your tasks and projects is critical. Modes  – sometimes viewed as tags or labels – add value to your tasks/projects and give them more meaning. And when your tasks and projects mean more, you’ll find a system that enables you to accomplish them more readily.

Photo credit: ischerer via SXC.HU