Why You Should Stop Using Tools For Jobs They Were Not Designed To Do.

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Over the weekend I foolishly got myself into a discussion about why a certain app didn’t have the ability to print. Being a long time user of that particular app, I knew the reason was because the vision the app’s developers had was to give their users the freedom to go paperless. Being able to print out notes, would contradict their founding purpose.

I often see people complaining that this app doesn’t do this or that app makes it difficult to do that function, and in all cases I find it is because the person complaining is trying to get the app to do something it was not designed to do. In the case of the discussion I had over the weekend, Microsoft Word or Apple Pages would have done the job far better as those tools were designed for the job he was trying to do.

Over the years I’ve seen this happen time and again. People trying to get Evernote to be a to-do list manager and then complaining because it doesn’t do the job very well. Trying to get Google Docs to be a note-taking app and using their email inbox as a to-do list manager And then claiming being productive is hard. None of these tools were designed to do the jobs these people were trying to get them to do. of course it is hard. It means you have to hack the app and create workarounds and all that does is add complexity and an increased likelihood there will be a productivity system breakdown.

The goal of building your own productivity system should always be a seamless, simple system that is fast to collect, easy to organise and shows you what you need to see when you need to see it. You don’t need to be hacking anything to achieve that. There are thousands of free apps that will do the job for you. Even if you do not want to dive into the ocean of productivity apps available, Microsoft, Google and Apple provide specific apps for specific jobs built into your device for free. A simple system, using the tools that were designed to do the specific job you want to do will keep things simple and easy.

Here’s a short list of apps I use with the jobs they do for me:

Todoist — to-do list manager

Evernote — note taking and ideas

Apple Numbers — financial reports and attendance sheets

Apple Pages — one or two page documents that need to look good printed.

Adobe Photoshop — creating thumbnails, blog images and banners

Adobe InDesign — for professional production of workbooks and PDF help guides.

Adobe Premiere Pro — video editing

Scrivener — for book writing

Ulysses — for all other form of writing.

(A full list of apps I use can be viewed here.)

As you can see, there could easily be some overlap between apps. Pages and InDesign for example can produce very professional looking documents, but Pages does not have the professional print shop options that InDesign has. Page bleed for example, which is essential for printed documents. On the other hand, InDesign takes quite a Lot of setting up, where as Pages can be set up on the fly. So for short, one or two page documents that do not need printing, I would use Pages.

Evernote could be used for writing blog posts and books as you can write the text and add images. But, in order to get an Evernote note to look professional when printed would take a lot of steps and I would have to trade a lot of functionality for blog posts when exporting to my blog just to get Evernote to work. It is far easier, and better, to use Ulysses, which allows me to use Markdown which formats my documents as I write them and publishes directly to my blog from the app.

Simplicity does not always mean less. Simplicity means using the best tool to get the job done. I could use a trowel to dig a garden wall’s foundations, but it would take a long time and a spade would do the job faster and better. Just because the trowel is the best tool to dig up weeds in my garden, does not make it the best tool to dig the foundations. There are better tools.

Part of the process of becoming better organised and more productive is finding ways to do your work better and more effectively. Part of that process is finding the right tools to do the right jobs. Many of the tools you need are free, others, such as Ulysses and Todoist, cost as little as $30 per year and the time and effort these apps will save you makes that cost an investment worth making.

If you want to become better organised and more productive stop trying to hack apps to do jobs they were not designed to do. You have a lot of choice today, but a simple system based on having a set of tools to do specific types work will give you the best results in less time and with less stress. And that will do more for your productivity than trying to hack apps to do types of work they were not designed to do.

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If you are ready to become better organised and more productive then take a look at my latest course, From Disorganised To Productivity Mastery in 3 Days! — A course designed to take you to productivity mastery in three days through a step by step approach over three days. Hurry, the early bird discount ends on tomorrow! (Thursday 18 October 2018). This course will change your life!

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit the like button below👍 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

Why You Should Be Focused On Simplicity Not More Features And Complexity.

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The biggest reason so many people fail to maintain a robust, workable productivity system is their desire for complexity. This desire seems to be human nature. We begin simply enough, but then we add more and more levels of complexity until eventually, we have a system that takes far too long to maintain.

First the analogue world

When I began building my own productivity systems years ago it was simple. I had a list of things I needed to do that day and I carried a diary where I wrote my appointments. Notes and ideas were put in a little notebook or in my diary. It was simple. Each item had its place and there were no grey areas.

Then the digital world.

Then along came the digital world. It began with a calendar app on my computer which then became a calendar app on my phone and a to-do list and a notes app. Then app stores opened up a world of business to software developers and we soon got deluged with productivity apps. These wonderful developers devised fantastic features to add to our apps so they could differentiate themselves from the competition. Some of these apps succeeded — OmniFocus, Todoist and Trello. Others failed. Unfortunately, for us consumers, this has given us far too much choice, which has led to constant switching and trying out new apps, which destroys our productivity.

Find a problem and solve it is not great entrepreneurial advice.

I understand why so many apps have become feature bloated. The generic advice for all aspiring entrepreneurs is to find a problem that needs solving and solve it. In the productivity world, that means trying to find a way for an app to do the work for us. Of course, this is not going to happen, so the next best idea is to add features.

A classic example of this is a feature called “start dates”. Start dates as far as I can tell is a feature unique to OmniFocus. What it does is allows the user to add a start date to a project or task so it ‘disappears’ until the start date. In theory, it sounds like a good idea. The problem here is now we have “start dates” and “due dates”. So when we are processing the things we have collected, we have two dates to think about. If I added a start date and a due date to a task or project, and I got the start date wrong (something I often did) even though I had a due date added, if the start date was after the due date, I would end up not seeing the task. The start date overrode the due date. Fortunately, I saw the ridiculousness of this feature and stopped using start dates. I went back to keeping everything as simple as possible. I dated projects and tasks for when they needed doing and made sure I did a full weekly review every Sunday. No more missed deadlines.

Even email apps are not immune.

We are now seeing this with email apps. Each new email app has so many features it has become almost impossible to keep up. We have “snoozing”, scheduled sending, read/receipts, smart mailboxes and so on. But if you stop and think for a moment, email should be simple. A person sends you an email, you see it, you make a decision about what to do with it (reply, file or delete) and move on to the next one. Operating at this simple level makes email easy, stress-free and manageable. When we add in snoozing, smart filtering, VIPs and all the other stuff that’s now added to our email apps, we end up with far too many decisions to make and that just slows us down.

What we need is different to what we think we want

What we need are apps that focus on simplicity, not features. To-do lists need to be built around collecting, organising and doing. We collect stuff throughout the day, we organise that stuff into projects and then we get on and do the stuff. When we are doing, the app should disappear. Email apps should make it very easy to reply, file or delete emails without having us to make decisions about whether we want to snooze an email, or flag it or schedule a response. Notes apps should be making it easy for us to capture notes and then find them again when we need them. None of this is difficult. Simplicity and speed. That’s what is needed.

The secret to success is simplicity.

I’m not a developer, I’m a consumer. One of the reasons I moved away from OmniFocus to Todoist was a need to return to simplicity. OmniFocus is great! It has so many features, but I realised those features, designed to make my life easier, were actually making me less productive. My move to the simpler Todoist gave me a huge boost in productivity and that was down to Todoist’s focus on simplicity. I’ve used one note taking app for nine years now, Evernote. Evernote comes in for a lot of criticism because they are not adding new features. The truth is, one of the reasons Evernote has endured for over ten years is because it has not been adding more and more features. There are just enough features for power users, but it has remained simple enough for anyone to use.

The majority of consumers do not need, nor want, all this complexity. What consumers want is a product that is fast, simple to use and works without crashing, freezing or causing confusion by having so many choices.

If you want to boost your productivity, if you want to get more amazing work done and if you want an easier, stress-free life, then go back to basics. Focus on simplicity and use apps that have fewer features. Apps with fewer features are less likely to go wrong, have a much easier learning curve and will allow you to spend more time doing your work. And that is what being productive is all about.

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit that like button below👍 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.