February 2, 2023
As a productivity enthusiast, it is always exciting to try out a new app and see it live up to its promise of saving you hours of time.
Each landing page, written by the most sincere copywriters, touts the new app as the antidote to your productivity woes.
And while there are some merits to these claims, do you know each time you fall for the game, you end up in fact hurting your productivity?
Sounds insane? Read on to unravel the freakonomics of productivity apps.
Software applications that promise to save their users hours of time, effort, or cost, at the workplace are known as productivity apps.
Recommended reading: Best productivity tools for you
A good example of one is Forest. An Android/iOS application that allows you to grow a virtual tree for every phone-free session you complete. As soon as you use your phone in between the set session, you end up killing the tree because your distracted brain could not keep the fingers to itself.
In this way, the app encourages you to concentrate on the task at hand, thereby, increasing your productivity by linking distraction to a tangible loss.
When you stumble upon a new app, does it feel like you have unraveled the holy grail to a day of unwavering focus?
Hold your horses. Things might not be as beautiful as they seem.
Yes, there are tons of productivity apps that help. But piling one over the other is more harmful than good.
When you begin to use a plethora of apps in your everyday life, your productivity is bound to plummet. It is not a function of which apps you are using but the number of apps that you do.
Say you use one app for note-taking, one for blocking distracting websites, and another for time tracking. To commence a task at hand you will find yourself first navigating to all three. Add to these, a Pomodoro timer and an app for project management.
Since now there is an app for everything, it’s easy to get caught up in the overwhelming number of choices and download multiple apps for the same tasks or activities. It can get too much too fast.
App overload leads to decision fatigue and information getting scattered across different platforms, making it hard for one to stay organized and get things done. Moreover, multiple apps in the same category share similar functionalities, meaning a lot of them are redundant.
The right balance of productivity apps should feel essential to your work and should allow you to focus on just a unique few. Otherwise, the race to the latest apps can sure feel like a run on the wheel.
The secret to deep work is ensuring you do not multitask.
Recommended reading: Why you shouldn’t have multiple tabs open
With an app for everything and on every device, you dilute your attention and get stuck in a cycle of context-switching. This, unsurprisingly, is to your productivity what rust is to iron. Context switching is one of the top sabotages of productivity. It diverts your attention from the pressing task at hand. And each time you switch tasks, it takes your brain time to regain focus.
To avoid this, it is best to only use the productivity apps that help you focus. Also, these apps should not come in the way of your focus time as much as possible.
Productivity apps can sometimes be more distracting than helpful. With a plethora of apps at your service, you will find yourself switching between apps, checking notifications every other minute, and tracking your progress on each.
With all of this going on, you might not get the time to actually get anything done.
Installing more apps on your devices only leads to more notifications and more distractions. Take a good hard look at all the apps that send you notifications if you're looking to increase your productivity. You probably don’t want to receive notifications from so many while you work.
When you use multiple applications, they end up vying for your attention. It is easy then to spend (read: waste) time trying to figure out which one to use, or which features to install.
If you stick to the basics that state that you only need apps that help you out with your work, you will succeed in gaining what they promised—more time & energy.
I used to waste hours on YouTube and Pinterest trying to find the best productivity app. The correct way to schedule tasks. I would then spend hours making my calendar look nice, color-code different calendars, optimize the heck out of it. But it didn’t work. When it was time to show up for my schedule, I didn’t know how to manage myself and my resistance.
If you still believe that the reason you are not getting important things done is that you don’t have the right app, think again. Productivity apps—one or two—can nudge you in the right direction but they can’t help you overcome the resistance you face before taking up a task.
Unsurprisingly, no good thing comes free of cost. Many of the productivity apps that are popular can be used only with a paid plan. They don’t just lay a claim on your attention but also on your wallet.
If you use multiple apps, you’d likely be paying a bomb cumulatively. Instead of spending money on so many, it is preferable to try out a select few apps for free, and see which one sticks. If the value proposition is unclear without a paid subscription, it is best to find a free alternative and check whether the functionality brings in the desired results.
For the most part, productivity apps are effective enablers that can help you do more in less time. Some of them form an essential part of your everyday work such as Grammarly. However, that’s all they are—enablers, and they won’t do much independently without the right mindset and systems to support them.
And a way to manage all of them.
With OSlash, you’d be able to transform the links to your most used apps into simple shortcuts such as o/to-do-list or o/week-calendar.
OSlash is not just another app but a way for you to navigate all your apps blazingly fast and save 30+ hours a month. It also helps you create a multiplayer browser so that multiple people can create shortcuts, find & access links easily, and collaborate without breaking a sweat.
With o/weekly-okr, I can navigate to my project management tool in under a second! Isn’t that fast?
Just like a professional athlete needs to pair top-notch gear with hours of training, you need to set yourself up for success with a few chosen apps if you want to get to the top.
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