On why productivity apps are not for me

Maybe I’m an old-school Debbie Downer (which is weird because it’s not like I’m 50 years old!) but for me productivity apps never quite made it into my heart, there to stay forever and ever. Nothing beats pen and paper for me. And yet, productivity apps are more powerful than ever now on the market. Everyone wants a piece of the app that will make them procrastinate less, an app that will let them scan documents on their phones, an app that will allow them to take notes on the go.

Look. To me, things make more sense on paper. I know. Weird. I work on computers all day and can’t take two seconds to write notes to myself on Notepad? What am I, deranged?! No, just myself.

I grew up reading and writing. On real paper. Tangible things are precious to me, and harder to forget. On a computer, I multi-task too much to remember that there’s something important due at a certain date. If I have it right in front of my eyes on a Post-It or a paper calendar, then there are less chances of me forgetting. And ruining my eyes by staring at another screen.

Here is a list, borrowed from Business Insider, of some of the best productivity apps on the market right now, and my refutations and explanations as to why they’re not for me.

1. Letterspace

Swipe. Edit. Note.

I’d rather have paper or a notebook to take notes or write down lists. As you might have noticed from some of my posts, I do write stories from time to time, but I’ve never been able to write them directly on the computer. That’s because I can’t concentrate when I’m in front of a screen; in fact, if you sit me in front of a tv screen during a meal, you probably won’t have my attention even if what’s on screen is boring me to tears. Some sort of attention deficit, I’m sure, but it’s harmless enough, and I’m well aware that taking notes on a screen works awesomely for some people. Don’t think it’ll ever win me over. After all, I’m a bookworm and I refuse to get a Kindle or tablet for the same reason: I don’t like staring at a screen if I can help it. Writing is one of those ways I can not be in front of one.

2. Humin

Know who matters and how.

Well, I’ll concede that I do keep my contacts on Google Contacts, but I’d rather just use Google Contacts than start building a new address book on Humin. I had a teacher in college that used to say, “be intelligently lazy” for all of our work. It doesn’t mean actually being lazy. It just means working almost effortlessly. Mind you, this teacher was teaching us how to use the Microsoft Suite and this was most often said during the Microsoft Access part of the course, because, you know, macros are awesome and make working in Access a breeze. Not that I remember anything about Access. I really don’t. I didn’t like it then and I still don’t now. But I do plan on being “intelligently lazy” in my life, so I can avoid running into impossible obstacles. I don’t need an app that does what another one does. That’s just redundancy, in my opinion.

3. Workflows

Powerful automation made simple.

Workflows includes actions that use the content you create or receive on your device and interacts with your frequently-used apps to make your life seem less complicated. However, I’d rather keep my workflow as human and mindful as possible. What if I don’t want to become ruled by my phone? What if I don’t want to become an automaton? Predictable? Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll keep control over my phone, thanks.

4. Microsoft Outlook

The new and improved Outlook app unifies your email, calendars, cloud storage, and contacts, so it’s easier to get things done.

Well, for one, I own an Android, which apparently Outlook doesn’t support, and for another, I’m pretty happy with how Gmail’s app has been doing its job. I do however like how the actions (archive, delete, etc.) are laid out and made possible. That is something that Gmail designers should look into improving on their own app.

5. Paper

When you need to get something down fast, Paper is ready.

I’ll admit, it looks pretty cool, but again, it’s for iPhone and iPad only. Plus, I’d rather organise my thoughts in an analog way, just like I mentioned for the Letterspace app.


Well, nothing is conclusive. But, when I think of productivity app, I’m just reminded of one of my old boss’s sons that barged in one day and said he couldn’t live without his phone, that would be so lost without it. And I think, God, I don’t ever want to think that. Sure, when I lived abroad my smartphone was my buoy: I had Google Translate a finger tap away, I had the bus app to know where my bus was and where I should get off, I could communicate with my friends and coordinate our meetups and all… Sure, it was extremely useful in my life because I would have been pretty lost in South Korea with no idea what people were saying or what signs meant, where buses went, or where my friends were. Sure. I couldn’t have survived without it. But the story I mentioned of my old boss’s sons is vastly different in the sense that he’s one of those people that absolutely has to check his phone when it beeps, he has to answer a phone call in the middle of a meeting, etc. Those are things I aspire not to do, and that’s why I aspire not to become addicted to my phone, as snazzy as it is.

So, in the end, it’s everyone’s prerogative. Do you. If a productivity app works for you, awesome, go for it. But for me, productivity apps are just the opposite: they distract me.

What about you? What’s your take on productivity apps? Let me know in the comments!