A recent news item on BBC news criticized the plethora of ‘productivity apps’ that are on the market right now. With the title “Are productivity apps more hype than help?”, the tone of the article seemed to indicate that the apps themselves were the problem. Somehow, these apps aren’t making us more productive.
I think this approach misses the point completely. If you’re keen to use technology to be more productive at work, there are a few things to bear in mind first. Having spent the last few years training and coaching people in productivity and self-management (rather than time-management!) approaches, I’d suggest the following are common issues when people try to use technology to be more productive:
Why are you trying to be more productive?
What’s your core motivation? If you don’t know why you’re trying to make a change to how you work, it’ll be more difficult to know if you’re being successful.
What does ‘productive’ look like to you?
Getting more done in less time? Having more time available for some pet projects? Leaving work knowing your priorities have been addressed? Be clear on ‘productive’ and you can be clearer as to whether an app can actually help you, rather than simply take up screen real estate on your tablet.
Are you confident when it comes to technology?
Are you honestly someone who is comfortable using technology at work? If not, maybe you could explore a paper-based approach before investing lots of time in using a new technology. Most of the same principles apply to paper-based approaches (e.g. prioritising your tasks, being clear on what you’ve delegated) and don’t absolutely require technology.
Will you put in the time?
Even if you are confident with technology, are you willing to put the time into learning how a new apps works and how it integrates with the other systems and tools you use at work? Apps usually have a learning curve – are you going to be able to get past your initial frustrations and persevere? Maybe it’s not the app – maybe you’re not giving it enough time. Or, dare I say it, reading the manual!
Will you keep going?
Once you’re up and running, and past the initial phase of novelty, will you continue to use the app the ways it’s intended? Or will you neglect it and then blame it when it doesn’t do what you want it to? There’s no point in having a task management application on your smartphone if you never open it or review its contents.
The internet is chock-a-block with advice on how various apps can help you be more productive. Have a look around online, read some reviews and talk to friends and colleagues for personal recommendations.
It’s safe to say there’s no one, perfect productivity app out there. But there’s probably one that you’ll find useful and actually enjoy using. Just don’t let the apps be a barrier between you and your productivity.
They’re just tools – you need to use them correctly to get optimum results.