How to Choose Your Productivity Apps: Checklist

How to Choose Your Productivity Apps Checklist

Choosing a productivity app can be a daunting process. Maybe you have been switching between apps, wondering if you ever find one you'll stick with, or you're wanting to choose the right one from the start. We have created this checklist to help you choose productivity apps best suited for you and your needs.

Stop Switching Productivity Apps

First of all, you're going to want to stop downloading tons of apps and switching between them. This just wastes time and feels really overwhelming. You need to give yourself time to adjust to new apps, so switching between is never going to work.

Productivity app switching wastes three things:

  • Time - You waste a lot of time playing around and switching between apps. You also waste a lot of time constantly finding and downloading apps and not using them.
  • Effort - It also takes up a lot of effort to move between apps, especially if you are syncing data. Learning how to use new apps also takes time, so make sure you choose one you'll stick with so the learning is worth it.
  • Money - If you are signing up for free trials you might anciently forget and be charged for apps even if you have stopped using them. Or maybe you have paid to use an app that didn't last longer than two weeks on your device.

When choosing a productivity app, you need to have the idea in your mind that you'll use this app for more than three years, maybe even five years. This is because it allows time for learning about the app and optimising use, therefore leading to optimal productivity.

So ask yourself, do you see yourself using this same app for maybe five years? If not, it might not be the right one.

For more help choosing an app, you can always take a look at reviews on YouTube or see which productivity apps some of the best people in the game have stuck with.

Choosing Productivity Apps

When it comes to choosing productivity apps you have to consider a few things before you dive into a whole new app with a whole new learning curve.

Food for thought before you choose a productivity app:

  • What upcoming life changes do you have within the next three years? Maybe you are graduating, starting a new job, moving away or retiring. These life changes will impact the app you choose to help with productivity.
  • Create a map or timeline for the next three years. This is just a little helpful tip so you can briefly overview where you will be and what kind of app will support you.
  • What do you need an app for, is there a specific need? For example, maybe you need an entire project management app, or maybe you're looking for a better way to store and manage notes.
  • Do you have a budget in mind? How might this change over the years? Most apps require you to upgrade to have the full experience. Think about how much you can spend now, vs the future. Maybe you can use this app for free for now, but when you land your new job you could upgrade.

Another factor which many people don't always want to do is research. As time-consuming as it is, it's better than wasting time downloading and paying for the wrong app.

How and why you need to research a new productivity app:

  • It isn't all about the aesthetic or the hype. Lots of applications have really beautiful interfaces now, but sometimes that's all they have. Don't fall for a pretty app before you have researched the features and abilities.
  • Read or watch productivity app reviews. The best way to really see how an app works is to find its guru and listen to what they say. From here you can see all the ins and outs of how the app works and decide if it would suit you.
  • Take your time. Researching does take time, but be sure to take your time. If you get this right you probably won't have to spend time researching another productivity tool for a while.

How To Choose Productivity Apps Checklist

Let's get into choosing a productivity app with our checklist. We cover different criteria here from research to optimising your use of your chosen productivity tool.

1. Research

First up we have research. The tedious task of filtering through all the apps available on the market to find one app that works for you. Follow each step in the checklist to optimise your research period.

  • Check out the company - Find the company of the apps you have chosen to research, or are interested in. You want to be happy with their vision, morals and feel aligned with the process. This is also a good way to get a feel for the company, why they made it and also a little about their finances. When choosing an app you want to know it's going to be around for a while.
  • Platform availability - Before you go any further, check what platforms and devices the app is available on. If it isn't available on your chosen device you can move on.
  • Core needs - Write down 7-10 core needs when choosing a productivity tool. These needs can cover notes, projects, tasks, freelancing, organisation or more.
  • Reflect on previous apps - Write down the apps you have chosen before and why you didn't stick with them. Maybe they had a confusing interface or lacked abilities. This can help narrow down your search.
  • Shortlist - Create a shortlist of three apps, you don't want to research more than this otherwise you'll begin to waste time. You should hopefully be happy with the company, look and feel of the app upon initial research.
  • Ask around - Speak to others about their experience with an app to understand their opinion, why they chose it and what they love about it. You can tell if the app will align with you or not.
  • Does the app meet 80% of your needs? - The apps you have shortlisted, or narrowed down to should meet 80% of your chosen needs. If it doesn't, maybe you need to find a more specialist and niche app like one for second brain note taking, or a multi-purpose app like 3 in one for tasks, events and projects.

2. Trial

Now you have hopefully chosen some apps to try and see if they work for you. This period of time is important and you must commit to fully testing an app before giving up.

  • 90-day trials - give yourself 90 full days to test and try your chosen app. Within this time you should be able to learn how to navigate the new app and get the hang of all its features and abilities.
  • Take notes - Whilst trialling the app takes notes of the specific things you really enjoyed or the things you didn't like at all. This is helpful if you come to the end of the 90 days and decide to move on from the app.
  • To stay or to go - Now you can choose to stick with the app for the next three or five years or move on. Use the list you have created of the things you disliked to make sure the next app is better.

3. Optimise

Finally, you can optimise the use of your chosen app, because hopefully you have completed 90 days and found an app that works for you. This stage basically means making the most of the app and getting to know how to use it on a deeper level.

  • Settle in - Now is the time to tell yourself you'll settle with this app. This is the app you are going to use for the next three years. Just to make sure you don't download another one in a week's time and start all over again.
  • Others in the industry - Learn how other people in the same industry as you are using this app. For example, if you're a freelancer, you can research and watch tutorials on how other freelancers are using this app.
  • YouTube tutorials - There are so many gurus for different apps, these are people who are pretty much experts at using them. Find them on YouTube and follow their advice to optimise your productivity tool.
  • Features and integrations - Optimise your productivity tool further by using the app's features to their full potential and integrating other apps and tools to help. This might just be integrating a task list or your calendar.
  • Commit - Now aim to use this app for at least three years. In three years time if your needs have changed you can think about moving on. For now, you have a new tool to boost productivity for years to come, so create a good base and routine for it.

The Path To Choose Productivity Apps (In Short)

To summarise this checklist, here's what you need to do to find the best productivity app.

  • One - Research apps in the genre you would like.
  • Two - Narrow down your choice to three apps.
  • Three - Research further into each app.
  • Four - Complete a 9-day trial with this app and make notes.
  • Five - Optimise your chosen app for ultimate productivity.

Good luck searching for your new productivity tool. You can find tons of guides and tool profiles here on Tool Finder to help.