If you’re like most Americans, you could use more time. Between long work weeks, which are still the norm despite Tim Ferriss’ best efforts, family and household responsibilities, sleep, and a wee little smidge of recreation, most of us feel pressed for time.
And so we do what any good modern human does: we seek the elusive app that will make us more productive. We imagine these gizmos as genies who can restore lost time back to us through the magic of modern technology.
However, the opposite is often true.
The sheer abundance of productivity apps can lead anyone struggling with time management to waste hours upon hours simply attempting to identify the best tool for the job. Sometimes this results in weeks of testing out different apps before finally committing to The One. And once the winner has been selected, there’s often still a time-consuming learning curve and plenty of upkeep to eat into your day.
So how can you make the most of productivity apps? How can you ensure that they’re actually saving – not wasting – your time?
Start with analogue
Before you even begin plundering your favorite app store, sit down with a piece of paper and a pen to determine what you actually need. Why analog? Because the digital world is full of distractions. When it comes to getting in your head, it’s better to limit the shiny objects that might divide your focus.
And get down to the nitty gritty details
When I say determine what you actually need, I mean get down to the fine details. If you’re looking for a tool to help you manage social media, for instance, identify all of the social media channels that you need to manage and exactly what you need the tool to be able to do for you. Determine how much you’re willing to spend on the tool and what little extras might make you splurge. By going about your search with a list of must haves in hand, you’ll immediately narrow down the options available to you, saving time looking at every available offering.
It’s easy to get enthusiastic about more features, but bells and whistles can turn a user-friendly time saver into an over-whelming new to do list item. Keep that list of must haves in your mind throughout your search and don’t be lured in by unnecessary elements that will make the tools you use more complicated and harder to maintain.
Give yourself time
Once you’ve found a simple tool that does what you need it to do, carve out some time to learn how to use it. We’ve all been guilty of attempting to wing it through new technology to save time only to discover that we’ve made errors that will cost time down the line. The best way to avoid wasting time is to have a sure grasp on how the tool work from day one.
Stick with it
If your tool of choice is working, don’t be tempted by the next new must have productivity tool. Sure. You’ll probably outgrow your current tool’s capabilities one day, but compulsive app-swapping is often just a way to distract yourself from the work at hand.
What are your favorite productivity apps?