My first visit to the App Store happened during a distracted moment when I asked, “I wonder if I can find an app for to-do lists?” Clearly an app neophyte, I figured I could complete this simple task by the time I’d finished my cup of coffee. Two hours later I was lost in a quagmire of to-do list offerings, with countless choices opened on my computer, several downloaded free trials, and a live chat from what appeared to be a robot asking me questions.
We know that a Productivity Ninja can be even more effective with the right tools. But how does one become weapon savvy when the tools themselves are overwhelming?
Productivity tools for personal and business organization range from the low tech, highly successful paper clip, to software systems used for team collaboration. The multitude of choices is a challenge. Even those in the productivity business recognize the danger.
Alastair Mitchell, co-founder of Huddle (collaboration tools used in over 100,000 companies), admits that the plethora of productivity tools is having the opposite intended effect. “With so many on offer, confusion is the biggest enemy.”
“Productivity apps can, in fact, be productivity traps,” writes another productivity seeker, after attending a seminar presented by Evernote. “Companies that use too many productivity apps concurrently risk not just losing the benefit of each app, but they also risk creating a new inefficiency (that, in turn, would need another app…).
Ouch! Sounds like a call to Productivity Ninjas to choose your weapons wisely. So what productivity apps actually help you get the job done better?
Start (and perhaps stay) simple
As soon as I tell someone that I use a particular app, I hear why their app is better because it sings a song/sends you a gold star/connects with your life goals, and so on.
Don’t fall for it. Try an app and if you like it, use it. Start simple and aim to keep it simple. Don’t be seduced by the shiny object syndrome of features you may never use.
Use what works for you
Being savvy means being wise (and honest) about what is going to work for you. If you prefer to write down notes on paper and can keep track of them, maybe you don’t need an app. But if you’re spending way too much time trying to find a phone number, remember someone’s name, or decode a message on the back of a beer coaster — we suggest you consider a productivity tool that delivers a simple system for staying on top of your commitments.
Don’t blame the app
Statistics tell us that only about half of all to-do-list items are completed within a day, and 41 percent are never completed at all. Sorry, this isn’t the apps fault. If you’re prone to put off tasks because you easily get distracted, procrastinate, or have trouble with time management, it’s the core disciplines of a Ninja that need a review —not the choice of tool.
No double dipping
At one point, I had 4 to-do list tools. Two synced with my phone but not with each other. One called insults when I didn’t check off items so it was entertaining, but otherwise impractical because it only worked on my iPad. I also loved those electronic sticky notes on my laptop because they were easy to use (but also easy to turn off and ignore).
After showing up at the vet twice with two very unhappy cats, but forgetting to book a room for a presentation, I deleted all tools but one. Now reminders are listed in one place, where I collect them every morning.
As soon as you have more than one app for a specific requirement, you have no apps at all. Try to limit the number of places you need to look for your tasks. And consider which devices you’ll use to view your app.
In the end, picking the right tools becomes an exercise in “know they self.” Listen to your own spidey sense- choose productivity tools that actually save you time, and trash anything that’s adding confusion (or additional voices) to your day.
There is no app for this. It is simply being weapon savvy.
Left Wanting More?
By Beth Parker
Beth Parker is a Canadian author and ghostwriter engaged in a continual struggle to balance the needs of her business with the welcomed chaos of five children, a husband and various pets. She has a BA (English), University of Toronto, and an MA (Journalism). In her fictional spare time, she paints pictures.