Think before you App.

This one is more about personal time management than work, because the arguments I am about to make have already been ignored by your organisation, anyway. 😊

Seeking inspiration for this week’s article, I googled ‘time management’ and was immediately presented with an article on time management apps. And my heart sank. There was good reason for this.

There are too many apps on the market, and people interested in the subject have a tendency to seek the best one by researching all of them, trying them all out, rating one against another and eventually….

Wasting time.

I recently considered moving from paper to pure digital, and looked at Microsoft’s To Do app. I now use it solely for shopping lists, but while I was looking at that also noticed that Microsoft had a number of ‘time saving’ apps in their suite. I did look at them and I realised – they were pretty much all doing the same thing. Making lists. There were tweaks that arguably made each slightly different from the others, but they were ultimately list managers. Then I elected to give OneNote a good try, and even then I realised that apart from its very handy document retrieval, it’s basically a list manager, too. I now use it as an on-hand repository for ideas that come to me when I’m out and about and have no access to my planner, and as a handy place to keep documents I might need on the hoof – but the truth is that DropBox would be just as useful for that.

What I have noticed, therefore, is that there are a lot of useful tools out there that are truly useful for self-management.

Moving on, I listen to podcasts about the popular Getting Things Done methodology espoused by its creator, David Allen. There was a debate about Evernote vs OneNote, and mentions were made of ToDoist and OmniFocus* and blah blah. What I observed as I listened was while each has merits, the users were explaining their preferences and I heard many say ‘I can send an email and it goes straight to the right note in the app.’ And I thought, “Why are you sending an email when you could just open the app and write it straight in?’

And that’s when I realised that people are sometimes using technology purely for the sake of using technology, and not necessarily for the purpose that the technology was created to serve. Like collecting books to have a great library of books you never read, using technology when it isn’t necessary, or using it in a fashion that doesn’t save any time (and in fact increases the time needed in using it) is a waste of time and effort. It looks or sounds good when you tell people you’ve mastered an app, but when mastering the app took months, and that mastery means you can make notes in only twice the time it took when you used paper or a simple To Do app, you really aren’t underlining your intelligence. Okay, maybe you ARE intelligent – but you are evidencing a severe lack of common sense.

I recall a short-lived ‘case management’ programme used by my force. It was sold as a marvellous way of recording investigations but – it was basically an email system. Boss sent an email, you did the thing and emailed back. Magic!

It lasted half of one investigation, but it cost thousands.

Surprisingly, I am not promoting a wholesale return to paper planning, although I encourage it. 😊 What I am suggesting is that instead of blindly using tech, think about what you want it for, choose one app, and then stick with that.

And to be utterly frank, if you use Outlook at work I’d recommend you select ONE other MS prog that will synch easily with it.

And don’t forget to keep a pen handy for the note you have to take which you then put into the digital world….

*And I baulked when they said how much it costs!!!!

Published by policetimemanagement

30 year policing veteran and time management authority. Now I've combined the two.

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