The modern world is fast and unforgiving. We constantly have to get more than one job done while we’re being relentlessly bombarded by distractions that get in our way. On average, we spend only 1 minute and 15 seconds on a task before being interrupted, and then it can take us an average of 25 minutes to resume a task once we’ve been distracted. It is no surprise, then, that today’s modern world is filled with productivity apps to help us focus on the tasks at hand, work more efficiently, and manage our days better.
Studies have shown that the average mobile user in the US uses between three and four productivity apps over the course of a month. The issue with productivity apps, however, stems from their very nature. When the problem is that the average person already checks their phone 150 times per day, are apps that make us look at our phones really the answer?
Opinions are split on productivity apps; they are both loved and hated by the people that use them. Perhaps if we better understand why, we’ll be able to get a little more out of them – or, even better, out of ourselves.
Why do people hate productivity apps?
1. Because they make you less productive
Using productivity apps takes effort. They don’t just magically turn your life into a finely tuned machine that outputs effortlessly and efficiently. The apps can only help you to do what you’ve told them to help you to do. This takes the time that you could be spending actually getting jobs done.
If you add to this the sheer number of productivity apps, and the fact that each has its own ecosystem that needs maintaining, things quickly get out of hand. All of a sudden, the apps that are supposed to be helping you save time and focus are taking up a lot of your time and require your constant attention.
2. Because people aren’t using them properly
Notifications can be distracting rather than empowering. If a notification is going off for every little task you need to take care of that day, it will distract you from taking action, rather than encourage you to take care of business. These days, notifications come in fast and hard and the more we receive the more we’re likely to ignore them.
Imagine an email inbox with 10 unopened emails compared to an inbox with 1,000 unopened emails. People are much more likely to ignore the 1,000 unopened emails than they are the 10. The same is true of notifications. Before long, you start ignoring the pings telling you to do the laundry and even start resenting them.
3. Because they make you pay a regular subscription
Paying for something can be tough. Especially if that something is an abstract concept like software. You already have the program but you can’t use it because the features are locked away unless you make a regular payment. Moreover, the program can just be copied an infinite amount of times and given to whoever wants it. What do you actually pay for?
What you pay for is the value it adds to your life. In the case of a productivity app, what you’re paying for is increased productivity. As this increased productivity still depends on your own effort, it could be difficult to conceptualize the added value you get with your paid subscription. If you’re not using your productivity app at all, forget about it.
4. Because it is difficult to know where to start
There are so many productivity apps available now that you’ll need an hour or two just to make sure you’re getting the right one for you. If the simple act of choosing which app will make your life easier is a laborious chore surely the concept is defeating itself. When you have article after listicle after infographic all trying to explain the finer points of each app that purports to make your life easier, you know you’re driving up a dead end. Which brings us to…
5. Because they overcomplicate things
This might seem counterintuitive in today’s modern world, but the humble pen still holds its own against the mighty smartphone. Using a pen and paper to organize your life frees up your screen for other tasks. In addition, that note you’ve written out won’t be pinging you throughout the day to get things done; and, as we’ve already mentioned, cutting down distractions is a surefire way to get more things done. A simple analog system could help you keep on top of your workload as well as giving you a visible archive of all the work you’ve done, and the satisfaction of scratching tasks off once they’ve been completed.
Despite the loathing they sometimes inspire, we know that a LOT of people couldn’t live without their productivity apps. For those people, we have looked in-depth at the best productivity apps, so make sure you check that out. If you think we’ve left out something frustrating about productivity apps, please let us know in the comments.