Let’s talk about productivity apps and tools. What is the underlying promise of these products? Why don’t they work for most people? And why downloading another productivity app is not the answer.
What’s wrong with productivity apps and tools?
If you look at all the productivity tools and apps out there, you will quickly find that they all sell the same message:
“If you use our product, you will get more things done.”
It’s not so harmful at first glance, isn’t it?
However, all these messages have an underlying assumption that is fundamentally flawed. They assume that when it’s time to do the task, all the user needs to do is to check the app, see what’s on the schedule and start doing the task. As if he is a robot. As if he doesn’t have any resistance. As if when he sees a difficult task on the to-do list, he doesn’t want to go and watch Netflix instead.
The true marketing message for these apps should be “Assuming you are a robot and you don’t have a human brain, you will get more done by using our app.” But we all understand that is is a very unrealistic assumption. We are not robots and we do have human brains.
Assuming that people don’t have resistance before doing hard work is the biggest mistake creators of these productivity apps make.
Time Management Is a Lie
Now let’s look at the idea of time management. We are so used to hearing the phrase “time management” that we don’t even stop to think about what it means. Let’s pause for a second. Let’s spell it out.
The process of managing time. As if time could be managed.
Time happens exactly the same way every single day. The sun came up this morning without your management. It will go down today also without your management. 24 hours will pass without your involvement.
You can not manage time.
You can’t make more of it. You can’t have 26 hours a day. If we have no impact on time, if it is always 24 hours, why on earth are we trying to manage it? What exactly are we managing?
You can not manage time. It is fixed. You can only manage yourself.
It will be better if we all stop using the words “time management” and start calling things as they truly are – “self management’. In your productivity journey you can only manage yourself.
Whenever, we have to do something, we have to manage ourselves, not our time.
Self management is not about the process of entering tasks into our productivity app. It is not about planning our days to a second. It is not about having a perfect schedule.
Self management is dealing with all that comes up when it’s 1 pm and your schedule says you need to work on a project for the next 2 hours.
I guarantee when it is 1 pm and you see this task on your calendar, you will not want to work on it. It doesn’t matter how much you paid for the productivity app or how much time you spent planning things out. You will not want to do it. You will want to watch Netflix. You will want to check Instagram. Or YouTube. You might even want to clean those kitchen cupboards. But you will not want to work on that report.
Self-management happens in those times when you are making a choice of whether to start working on a project or to go watch Netflix. All the productivity tools simply assume that you will start working on a project IF it was entered in their app. But we all know it is a lie. Most of the time we prefer to do something easier like responding to emails or checking social media.
People Who Get Things Done
What differentiates people who get things done vs. the ones who procrastinate?
It is not the productivity apps they use. It is their ability to do what they said they would do. If they planned to work on a project at 1 pm, when it’s 1 pm they work on a project.
This is the recipe for success everyone is looking for. Just show up for what you said you would show up for. It’s very simple but not that easy.
Plan your days and then show up for that plan. The productivity app is irrelevant. You can use a simple sheet of paper for all I care and be more productive than 99% of people around you.
You Don't Need
Another Productivity App
The secret of productivity is self management. Not time management.
It is showing up for what you said you would show up for.
It is about establishing trust with yourself.
I used to waste hours on YouTube and Pinterest trying to find the best productivity app. The best way to schedule things. I would then spend hours making my calendar look nice, colour-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 because you don’t have the right app, think again. I’m sure the reason you are not getting important things done is because you don’t know how to deal with your resistance.