Have you ever been laying in bed or chilling on the couch in the evening when suddenly a strike of inspiration and motivation strikes and you think to yourself, I am going to completely better my life! I know that I have and I would guess that most people must have had an experience like that in their lives. It is at that point that I always download the fanciest productivity app that I can find and set the most unimaginably far-reaching life goals for myself which are obviously going to fail leading into defeatedly removing the app again. However, I have noticed that even when I download the productivity apps with the best intentions and clear-cut goals, I always fail to keep using the app and I always end up deleting it within a week anyways. Why do productivity apps, at least for me, work so badly?
One of the reasons I believe that sometimes productivity apps tend to achieve only the opposite of what they were designed to do, is because most of those apps are designed in a way in which it is motivating you to keep setting new goals for yourself leading to unrealistic expectations for yourself. The app is made to be motivating and through flashy design and a gamified system where you, for example, earn points for every task you have done, the app actually unintentionally motivates you to set unrealistic goals for yourself leading you to the give up on the app entirely when you don’t meet those goals.
Moreover, oftentimes the app itself takes up more time of your day than you want it to do. It ends up being a distraction because endlessly planning, something which is attractive when you have a flashy app in which you can do it, can also be a form of procrastination and actually leading you to be less productive.
Gamification just doesn’t do it for everyone
I know that this is not true for all, but for me, the gamification of productivity apps just does not work. It puts too much pressure on you and the in-app rewards, such as earning points, going up a level or growing a digital tree, just do not feel as rewarding when presented in an app. For me, physically seeing my simple on-paper to-do list with every point completed and having been stricken through is more satisfying than any kind of digital points or trees could ever be. Also, getting those constant notifications by the app saying, remember you have to complete that task or otherwise incentivising me to be more productive, only leads to me feeling more stressed and overwhelmed thus also more prone to procrastination or otherwise being unproductive. Sometimes, it should just be simple.
Should we even always be productive?
To end this blogpost, I would like to shift the focus on a more broad side of this, why do we even feel like we need to be so productive all the time? Contemporary society has a productivity obsession, it seems like nowadays everything that you do must be productive otherwise it is a waste of time. It sometimes seems like how productive you are, or at least seem to be, determines your value as a person, I mean who hasn’t bragged about their full planning at least once? Productivity apps, who entice you by saying you can become even more productive, thus more valuable, thrive on this obsession. So what do you guys think about this, have productivity apps ever worked for you? Do you think that current society is too obsessed with productivity?