Step Away From The App

When people ask me “What app should I use to help me be more productive?” I have a simple answer.

“I don’t know.”

Everyone’s work style is different. Everyone’s proficiency with apps is different. Everyone’s needs are different. In order to even begin to recommend an app, I’d need to know more about the person asking the question.

Sometimes a simple to-do list app like Clear or CARROT will do the trick. Sometimes a habit tracking app alone is enough because they tend to trust their paper-based workflow for their tasks. The only time I’ll really suggest a radical change is when the person is using email to manage their tasks (and even then I need to look at a solution that will work best for them as they shift on that front) or when they use a calendar to manage their tasks (and again, I need to treat them with kid gloves as well).

If you find that you’re stuck and not moving things forward as much as you’d like (or perhaps not moving the right things forward), then you need to step away from the app you’re using and get some perspective. That doesn’t mean abandon the app altogether; it means you need to evaluate it from a vantage point that doesn’t have you immersed in it.

I’d suggest you step away for no more than a week. Use paper in the interim or something simple like the notes apps that you’ll find included with most computers and mobile devices. Make note of what gets done and what doesn’t. Then make a point of really figuring out your needs and looking at what solutions will help you propel things forward better.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What platform or device do I use most often to achieve objectives? A computer? A mobile device? Paper?
  • Do I need something that needs to be connected to the internet all the time or only occasionally?1
  • Do I need something that will grow with me as I become more proficient and deal with more complex projects?

No app alone can help you with your efficiency and effectiveness. Sometimes you need to step away from the app you’re using to see if you can go without it and still make things happen…or find something more suitable and make things happen even better than before.

Photo credit: vjeran2001 via SXC.HU

1 Figuring this out may eliminate things like Asana and Todoist, but may also result in a more costly solution such as OmniFocus or Things.