There’s Too Many Apps For That
All Your Apps Are Killing Your Productivity
Imagine it’s New Year’s Day.
You’re determined to be get more shit done this year, and that means managing your day more efficiently.
You head to the app store on your phone and download as many apps as you can that promise to solve any one of your daily “problems”: sleep tracker, calorie counter, pedometer. You create lists and reminders and alarms and account for every second of your day.
Once you’ve spent a good few hours setting everything up, you sit back content; ready for the next day when you can do a test run.
And the next day you realise… all those reminders and alarms and notifications are actually really fucking annoying.
And you ignore them.
Too Many Apps
Now, I’m not saying that using apps to manage your day to day affairs is a futile gesture — I’m saying that using too many apps with too many different functions can be counter productive.
Apps are supposed to make your life easier and make a specific task simpler. They help us to be more efficient and productive in our daily lives because they allow us to shift our focus away from routine tasks and onto more pressing or engaging matters.
Apps start to become inefficient when you need to take time out of your day to regularly update them.
Aha! But What About Apps Like The Calendar App?!
Ah you’ve got me!
The calendar app needs information manually entered on a regular basis, so my above argument falls apart right?
Well, consider how unproductive you would be without the calendar app. Depending on how effectively you currently use it, you could miss appointments, meetings, birthdays, and even important payments.
Using apps that require manual data entry is totally fine — even encouraged — if it translates into increased productivity in some other area of your life.
Which brings me to my next point.
At the start of this article, I mentioned that apps promise to solve a certain problem — the good ones at least.
So let’s look at one type in particular: fitness and calorie counter apps.
Most of these are set up so that you’re able to enter the meals and snacks you’ve eaten, the beverages you’ve drunk and of course the exercise and sleep you’ve had in order to track everything consistently.
Now, this is actually an incredible amount of information that needs to be entered by yourself on a daily basis, and as such can take up a chunk of your time.
If you’re the type of person who downloads a bunch of different apps at once in a fit of spontaneity, this sort of app in particular is not going to get used properly, and you’ll end up deleting it soon after (be honest, you know you’ve been through this at least once).
It’s because you’re missing a purpose for having the app in the first place.
Let’s use the example of the calendar app again: you have a purpose for needing it (managing your meetings and appointments), therefore it solves an actual problem of yours, and you use it regularly.
If your goal is trying to lose weight, gain muscle, stay fit or just manage your diet — and you’re actively (no pun intended) trying to reach this goal — then the fitness app is going to make your life better, regardless of the time you put into updating it.
Take a look at the notification screen on your phone.
Is there a wall of old notifications from all the apps on your phone that you haven’t cleared yet — much less looked at?
Looking at all of these notifications can be overwhelming, and eventually it just becomes easier to ignore them all — even if you tell yourself “I’ll get to it later.”
If you’re trying to use apps to be more productive, then minimising the amount you’re relying on is going to help immensely.
Obviously app notifications can be turned off, but you’ll most likely be relying on notifications for these ones so it’s something to keep in mind.
So What’s The Best System?
The below system is a good rule of thumb for auditing the apps you have/want to download in order to be more productive. Ask yourself:
- Does it solve a particular problem that can’t also be solved by another app (eg: do you need separate apps for tracking sleep, calories and exercise when one fitness app can do it all)?
- Do you have a purpose for using it (does it help you meet a specific goal that you have)?
- How long will you spend using/updating the app?
- Will this equate to more free time/productivity in your life?
- Are the notifications helpful, or overwhelming/annoying?
If you apply the above questions to the apps you are using, it will help you determine which of them to keep and which of them to ditch.
It’s Brain Science
Look, I’m sure many of you will disagree with this article — and that’s fine.
You may be the sort of person who thrives on using multiple apps to manage your day. But for many people, this rigid structure is not sustainable or efficient in the long run.
Studies consistently show that the human brain works better when focused on one task at a time (which is SUPER helpful in the 21st century…), so when we’re constantly flipping between and using multiple apps each day it just gives our brain MORE things to try to remember, which is counter productive.
Keep all of this information in mind next time you get in an app downloading spree: it’ll save you some time.