What’s Wrong With Productivity Apps?

It would almost be impossible to list all of the productivity apps available to us. I primarily use four.

I describe Evernote as my second brain. All of my notes, projects, and files are stored in their cloud. I’ve been using it since 2011, and it currently contains several thousand notes.

Nirvana HQ is where I keep all of my ‘to-do’ lists. It is designed to easily follow “Getting Things Done” recommendations for tracking both projects and next actions. I’ve been using it since 2010.

Calendly allows me to expedite scheduling meetings. If I send you a link, you can see when I am available. You fill in a simple form, and you are on my calendar. It has dramatically helped me in the last couple of years since I no longer have an administrative assistant to take on this task.

Text Expander is a simple way of using macros to repeat paragraphs and phrases by pressing a short code. It has saved me countless minutes and hours since adopting it about five years ago.

Of course, I also use Microsoft’s suite of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Plus, Apple’s iCalendar.

That’s pretty much it.

You would think that since I have been using some of them for a decade or more, I’d be perfectly happy and never be tempted to try one of the new up-and-coming apps.

I’m human. Of course, I look.

In recent years, I’ve done some off-line testing of ITTT (‘if this, then that’) ,a website and mobile app that helps you create automations between online devices., Todoist (a task manager), OneNote (Microsoft’s version of Evernote), and Notion (another competitor for Evernote).

Here is what I have learned.

There is no perfect app. When I test a new app, it is because someone has told me that it will do something that the others won’t. Sometimes they are correct. But, I’ve always found that I miss something that I’ve used in a previous app for every new feature that I like. So while my current apps are not perfect, I’m comfortable with them, and they serve me well even though I can always wish there was one more feature that they don’t have.

I’m also careful that before I would make a switch, the new app would need to be spectacular. Once you have been with an app for one, two, five, or ten years, it would take a lot of work to smoothly migrate all of your data. It may not be worth all of the work, especially if you later find a flaw.

Take it from me because when I got my first iPhone, I started downloading and testing lots of apps. I spent way too much time finding something that appealed to my desire to be more organized, and I was always disappointed.

I always think of best-selling author Charles Dhuigg’s advice in his book, “Smarter, Better, Faster.” He wrote, “We’ve been staring at the tools of productivity – the gadgets and apps and complicated filing systems – rather than the lessons those technologies are trying to teach us.”

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