5 Signs Your Productivity App is a Toy

You know what I’m talking about – those apps on our phone and computer that seem to waste more time than they save. I think I have more than 100 apps on my phone. I only use 5-6 on a typical day.

A friend of mine the other day shared with me a new business application she came across. She told me that I would love it. She indicated that I wouldn’t use anything else. She said, “I spend hours on it.”

This was my first warning sign. She was spending hours on this new “toy”. Hence, productivity went out the window.

So I thought I would share a few warning signs with you that your new productivity app might just be a toy.

1. It Only Adds to the List of Productivity Apps

If you have to go to multiple applications to get things done, adding another application to the mix won’t help the problem. Find applications that centralize your communication, documents, tasks, projects, due dates, and notes. When the new app only adds to the list of productivity apps (your email, the time tracking app, the doc reference app, the note taking app, and several others), you are only adding another distraction to your life.

Look for apps that help you centralize productivity. Those that only add to the one-more-thing-to-check list usually are toys or time wasters.

2. You’re Grasping at Every Solution to Replace Your Hated SharePoint

We understand your pain. We are not SharePoint fans. But adding every narrow solution as a replacement will not solve your pain. In fact, you are likely less productive by relying on a patchwork of products that aren’t integrated. In the end, this is just creating more work for you.

Some of these apps are toys and some are just adding gas to the fire of endless things to check.
Look for those tools that are a single, integrated platforms for collaboration.

3. You’re Ignoring Your Family at the Dinner Table

You’ve seen those families at your local restaurant – someone (or everyone) is playing with their phone or tablet instead of contributing to the conversation. If this is you, are you playing Words With Friends or are you playing with that new “productivity” application?

If the new tool is eating into your family time, dump the app. Be honest. If you spend time on your application at dinner, it is a distraction.

4. Most of the Tasks You Entered Last Week Have Not Been Completed

With the best intentions, you entered all of your tasks and very few of them got checked off. Even worse, you love the application, and you keep adding to this app. This tool might have a long list of to-dos, but you’re not getting things done.

Either the tool is ineffective or it’s just another application to check. Stay focused on the applications that help you move forward with your work.

5. The Application is Complex

Unfortunately, not everything comes with an instruction manual these days. And although computer software has come a long way since the days of clumsy keyboard commands, some applications can still prove confusing for all but the most technologically inclined.

If you have trouble figuring out how to use a particular productivity tool, see if that company has tutorials or a help desk. It may not even hurt to send a quick e-mail to the application developer asking for a bit of advice.

If all else fails and the frustrations continue, you may just be better off scrapping the app for one that’s a tad simpler.

This app might not be a toy, but if it is hard to figure out then you’re wasting your time. Always remember, the ultimate goal of productivity tools is to make your work easier.

Is it a Toy or Tool?

The modern employee faces an entirely new set of distractions than the employee of ten years ago. Interruptions come in the form of e-mails, scheduling changes and phone calls, ready to dismantle even the most diligent worker from the task at hand.

New productivity tools can be fun, and they can have all the fancy bells and whistles, but they’re useless if they don’t make things less complicated for you in the long run.

There are literally thousands of software applications on the market today—many available for free—devoted to productivity. Use only those that make you more productive. Get rid of the rest.