Until you have better work habits, productivity apps are useless

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.” — Thomas A. Edison

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

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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 every day without getting significant work done.

The bitter truth is, until you have better work habits, that insanely great productivity app can’t help you.

Focus on building better work habits first

Want to improve how you work? Build better routines.

Cut the distractions, find your flow and stick to a few 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 the 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.

Build a better work routine.

There are tons of productivity methods you can try.

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

It’s simply a collection of behaviors, 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 art styles and techniques to draw on as you develop your own style.

The most popular productivity systems are:

  • Getting Things Done (GTD), The SMART Method, Timeboxing, Biological Prime Time, Personal Kanban, The “To-Do” list, The “Must Do” list, Pomodoro Technique, Eisenhower Matrix, Don’t Break The Chain, and Eat That Frog.

The trick is to remix the best principles, systems, and methods that work for you. It’s important to note that none of these systems are “standalone.” They can all be combined with other productivity systems, tools, and apps.

All of these systems are designed to do one thing: get stuff done.

Once you try a system for at least thirty days, you’re free to stick with it or try something different.

Consolidate your apps

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

Both Slack and Asana 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 productivity needs.

Zapier allows you to link over 750 different types of apps. It can save you 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.

Here’s the hard truth: an app alone isn’t going to make you more productive.

So, stop relying on the app and build better work routines.

It’s not about the app you use, it’s how you use it.

You don’t have to try every single app out there to work better, smarter or faster.

This article originally appeared on Medium.

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