Until You Have Better Work Habits, Productivity Apps Will Work Against You, Not For You

“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing,” said Thomas A. Edison.

All your efforts to be more productive can backfire, and only make you feel even busier and more stressed if your work habits are not right.

Wanting to be more productive is a good thing.

In fact, everyone would benefit from great systems, and principles for getting more done, working toward a personal goal, or getting an extra half hour of free time every day.

The only problem is that we are spending too much time managing work instead of doing actual work.

According to a recent McKinsey report, today’s workforce spends 61% of their time managing work rather than doing it. That’s insane.

We can do better than that.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of apps that promise to make you work smarter, better and even faster.

A quick glance at the productivity section of any app store reveals thousands of options for various email, to-do, calendar, notes, workflow, and everything else apps.

Many people spend a lot of productive time shifting between apps everyday without getting significant work done.

The bitter truth is until you have better work habits, those insanely great productivity apps won’t do much for your work.

Productivity is a combination of both habits and tools.

Too many apps can be overwhelming, and they tend to waste a lot of time if you don’t have the right work habits.

A better approach to make productivity apps work for you is to focus first on improving your work habits.

Focus on building better work habits first

Want to improve how you work? Build better routines.

Your work habits have a direct effect on how well you perform.

Start tracking your time, identify habits of yours that regularly help or hurt productivity.

The only way to figure out exactly what’s at stake if you don’t change a habit is to determine the time, energy, and earning potential you’re losing by staying the same.

Once you know how your time is being spent, you can easily cut the distractions, find your flow and stick to the most important apps that actually help you move the needle.

You need to get YOU organized first to make the most of any tool that helps with work.

An app doesn’t “get” you productive or “make” you more productive.

A set of productivity tools augments and enhances your productivity.

We easily forget that it isn’t a tool that makes us productive.

But our approach that gets the work done.

To improve how you work, start reviewing your work processes.

Refine your system to make your tools work for you.

A good system smoothens work processes.

Know what is important and what can be shelved.

Stay focused, keep to your deadlines, plan your work for the day and the week. And improve how you spend time using email.

You’ll never get away from email. And that means building a better email habit. Try a “one-touch” email habit.

Don’t spend all your time responding to urgent emails when there are important tasks on your to-do list.

For Intuit CEO, Brad Smith, this means using a system he calls “read, act, file, or delete.” Periodically through the day, Smith will work through his inbox, forcing himself to deal with each email in one of these four ways.

Build a personal productivity system for yourself.

There are tons of productivity methods you can try to make your work process even better.

A productivity system provides you with the ability to manage and execute those commitments, communications, and information at a specific time.

It’s simply a collection of behaviours, repeated consistently and in a particular order, plus the tools that support them.

Think of it this way: if you’re an artist, it’s helpful to know a wide range of styles and techniques to draw on as you develop your own style.

Find a system that works for you, stick with it, and keep improving it.

Consolidate your apps

Do an app audit to determine which ones in your portfolio are meeting your work objectives.

Some of the best productivity apps have a suite of tools (including task and subtask management, project management, calendar, file uploads, communications, workflow and progress reports) that can take care of most work needs.

Others allow you to link hundreds of apps.

Find your best choice and save yourself time whilst you automate your workflow processes.

Reach your full performance potential by making sure your apps are always working for you, not against you.

There is no question that technology can improve how you work, and help you achieve more in less time.

But when investing your time, and resources into productivity tools, remember that apps alone won’t get you the results you need.

You don’t need more apps to improve how you work.

Some pointers when choosing productivity apps: Multi-platform saves time, and the more frequently you use an app, the more user-friendly, and clutter-free it should be.

Want to get more done in less time?

You need systems, not goals. I’m creating a new course, Systems For Getting Work Done to help you create a personal productivity system to get 10X more done in less time. Sign up to be notified when it launches.