The No. 1 question I’m asked in interviews or coaching sessions is to list the top productivity apps I recommend for [insert problem here].
But here’s the trick: the best app for me could be the worst one for you.
I love reading and writing, and am speedy at both. My husband prefers to listen to audio books and dictate his communication. If I recommend him a great app to read, I’ve actually set him up for failure.
The truth is that we have thousands of incredible apps to help us solve problems. Thousands of experts, gurus, bestselling authors, coaches and know-it-alls sharing their systems, tactics and operation styles. All of them can help you become wildly successful -- and at the same time, none of them could be the exact thing you need.
Here’s another example: Boomerang’s new feature, Inbox Pause.
Inbox Pause is a feature that allows you to pause your entire inbox -- that means no incoming emails pinging your phone at all hours of the night. It alerts people that your inbox has been paused, and allows you to make exceptions for specific contacts.
Sounds great, right?
In my workflow, and in my teams, it would destroy my business. And I say this as a huge fan of Boomerang and its core app, which lets you schedule a specific time for an email to return to your inbox.
In my day-to-day work life, 12 full hours of not being able to get in touch with my team can introduce unnecessary crises and hassles. You’d be blown away at what happens on “off” times -- sponsorship or client calls that take place in the UAE/China/Europe business days, key decisionmakers who are most responsive to email after their young children go to sleep, and night owl team members who prefer to work when most of the world is asleep. And these are just the “non-emergency” situations.
My livelihood, and the livelihood of my team members, hinges on the ability to step right back into the business in a second -- no matter what time it is or what I’m doing. Forgetting to disable an automatic setting like this would inevitably cause inertia in teamwork (because my team can't get ahold of me or get approvals on their work) or missed opportunities (because I respond to something two days later, and the opportunity window closes).
However, Boomerang’s Inbox Pause feature has great potential for people in other industries, like:
- A freelancer with clients who don’t always respect their time or value their scheduled calls
- A 9-5er that struggles to switch out of work mode after hours
- For special occasions -- when you want to be present and in the moment of a special occasion or event, and don’t want incoming emails to interrupt that time
That said, you don’t need an app to practice discipline.
We often forget that the phrase “time management” refers to an action -- managing. If you don’t want to be interrupted with emails, disable your visual and audible push notifications on all devices. Change your smartphone’s settings so that when you’re on Silent mode, the phone doesn’t vibrate. You can even live dangerously and leave your smartphone in the car or another room.
You are always in charge of your choices. Remember that, and you’ll never need anyone else’s tool, system, app or plugin.