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To-do Apps: Do You Make This Mistake?

To-do App Mistakes

There’s a lot of apps ‘out there’ to help you manage your productivity. Let’s talk about how to avoid a big mistake when choosing an app to manage your to-do’s.

More than likely you’ve heard the expression “cart before the horse”. It’s an analogy for putting things in the wrong order. Nowadays, I treat my to-do app as the cart and my way of working as my horse. But I never used to…

I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for marketing in the app store. You know what it’s like. You open up your phone or tablet and you see ‘newest release’ apps with an enticing description of its look and feel. Before you know it you’ve clicked purchase and started the download. But when it comes to to-do apps, you first need to consider your method of working. Otherwise, your app will end up lonely and abandoned or instead, rule over you.

I started thinking differently about to-do apps when I began working as an IT business analyst (‘BA’ for short). As a BA I help teams improve their business processes, often through the adoption of IT systems. Similar to my to-do app hunting in the past, I find that people in organisations often stumble across an IT solution at a conference, talking to a colleague or Googling and then want to implement it for their team. On the face of it the IT solution will appear to meet what they want but it’s not until they lift the hood and use it everyday that they start to discover the drawbacks.

What I have found is that more often than not the choice of an IT system is a much better fit if a team has first figured out how they want to work and what they need from that system. Once collated, a BA will call this information their ‘requirements’. These requirements are then used to assess how well an IT system fits the team or organisation.

Once I started reflecting on my own ways of working, I came up with some basic needs for to-do apps. I thought about my requirements. What devices I use, which operating systems I use, what sort of mobility I need, look and feel verses functionality and my budget. Use the search term “to-do” in an app store and you’ll realise the paralysing choice in front of you. If you spend a little time thinking through your basic ways of working before downloading you’ll increase your chances of an app fit for purpose.

If you really aren’t sure what you need or how you work before purchasing a to-do app, you could take a tip from Thanh Pham. Thanh (from Asian Efficiency) suggests you find someone you respect and who works like you’d want to, and copy it.

I also highly recommend trying our new 2 minute quiz to help you find the best to-do list app for you. Our quiz is short but powerful, with an algorithm based on hundred of hours of 1:1 coaching to help you find a to-do list app that works for you!

Do you already have a killer to do list?

What drives your requirements for a to-do app?

2 comment

  1. Thank you for the handy tip. to date I have not been much of an app user but you have sparked my interest in investigating into this further and find a to-do app – that way I can have my list wherever I go!

  2. Thanks for the post Tim. I too have been repeatedly sucked in by the tractor beam of ‘editors pick’ accolades and a bizillion 5 Star Reviews, only to discover that the hastily purchased apps require too much initial change in how I work. And then the ‘disused app.’ guilt sets in.
    Anyway – My drive for the perfect ‘to do’ app. is to have all the info. relevant (or likely to be relevant) for my life in one easily accessible and searchable place. I’d like my to-do app to have a place to dump ‘one of these days…’ ideas and plans, e.g. potential holiday destinations, books you may want to read, possible names for your next dog, that kind of stuff, as well as the ‘next task’ function, as well as the ability to be able to record meeting notes and reference information (without necessarily having to be a ‘to do’ item. ) I’m trying to make that work with the ‘Things’ app at the moment, but it’s not quite there yet. One day.

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