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How to avoid the artificial surge in productivity when trying a new to-do app

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You feel that your productivity needs a boost, and you believe your to-do app is the problem. It’s not powerful enough to suit you. After some research, you found the best to-do app for you as it contains some amazing features.

You tried it for a few days, and you saw a surge in productivity. You’re the most productive you have ever been! A few weeks later, everything is back to normal.

Sounds familiar? Been there before? You’re not alone. So why does that happen and how can you avoid it?

If you’re unproductive, it’s rarely a deficit in your tools. Actually, it’s the opposite, an over-usage of the tools you currently use.

A to-do list, in its bare bones, is a list of tasks you should complete on a given day. Everything else is extra.

So what does this mean?

It means you should be productive with the bare minimum first, before trying other features. And the bare minimum is a list of tasks. When you are productive with that, then you can try something else.

All to-do apps are the same

All to-do apps are the same at the core. A list of tasks and due dates, plus a few features here and there.

Picking a specific one comes from your specific need and usage. For example, I’ve been a long user of Todoist, and I was already productive with the app. Then, I switched to TickTick because I wanted the integrated calendar feature. But other than that, everything else is the same. I don’t use the majority of features in TickTick.

Use your to-do app progressively

When we switch to a new to-do app, we usually do so to use a feature or something new in that app. Shortly after, we get the urge to try all the amazing features at once. That surge in adrenaline makes us attached to the app that we spend a lot of time tweaking it too early.

Whenever you try a new app, start with the bare minimum: Tasks with due dates. That’s it, even if you already use more features in your old app. The goal here is to get used to the new one slowly.

When you are confident in the new app, it’s time to broaden your usage of features. If this app has some features that look like the old one, start with those.

Grow the usage over time. Trying to use all features from day one will benefit you short term (the surge in productivity). But sooner or later, you’ll stop using it given you created a big and long process for yourself.

Use less of your to-do app’s features

Because a to-do app has a feature, it doesn’t mean you should use itr.

In fact, to-do apps have a lot of features by design. They are created to appeal to a larger audience for economic reasons. An app priced at 2-3$ per month needs to be used by millions to make it into a viable business.

That’s why the to-do apps have a lot of features. Some of them can be relevant to you, but others are not. So next time you see someone recommending a to-do app because it has feature X, think about it again. You might not use that feature in the first place.

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