Recently, the media has highlighted the tension between company leaders and employees in the post-pandemic workplace in pursuit of “productivity.” On the one hand, companies are demanding a return to the office, monitoring employee activity, and laying off underperforming workers. On the other, employees are looking for fulfillment, ways to work more efficiently, and a sustainable work-life balance.
Here's the rub: we all want the same things! We want to produce great results, not just activity. We crave focus and efficiency because productive days lead to fulfillment and continued engagement.
With a never-ending list of things to do, rather than just staying busy, the key is to make sure you focus on the things that matter most. To do that, you may be tempted to use a task management app your colleague swears by, but beware of the pitfalls that might undermine your new productivity mission.
You spend a week wrangling all your tasks from slips of paper, Google docs, Apple notes, and paper notebooks covered with sticky notes. Phew! You add them to the app and pat yourself on the back for getting organized. Look out, team! Your productivity is about to soar!
But that's not what happens.
You're in the habit of taking notes, and for a while, every time a task comes up, you toggle to your task management app and capture it over there. Sometimes that’s too distracting, so you jot down a task in your notes and copy it to your to-do app later. But soon, all that copying and pasting starts to feel cumbersome. And worse, sometimes you forget to do it.
When it comes time to review your to-do list, some tasks don't make sense anymore because you can't remember the details or context. You keep adding tasks to the pile, knowing you need to prioritize your list, but you still haven't done it. Instead, when you have a few spare moments, you cherry-pick easy and recent tasks to complete and check off the list rather than the most important ones.
You start to question whether the task management app has made a difference or made things worse. Aargh! Why does this have to be so complicated?
It's not you. It's the app.
Let's face it, your work has yet to get more manageable, and there's a reason you can't stick with your task management app. Actually, there are four reasons.
1. Your tasks are siloed from other apps
We've discussed the cost of context-switching or the drain on productivity when you jump between tasks and meetings. Even when you focus on one task for an extended period, you still waste time and energy, lose focus, and get distracted when the task involves toggling between apps.
How often do you toggle between apps? Great question!
New research featured in Harvard Business Review found that workers toggle between apps approximately 1,200 times daily, adding up to just under four hours each week. That's roughly a tenth of your productive time at work! Crazy, right?
You waste a lot of time and energy copying things from other places to the app. Isn't it frustrating that the productivity you gain from managing your tasks in one place is lost to a “toggle tax?” But that's just one problem with a narrowly focused task management app.
2. Your tasks lose context
Each task originates from a specific context. Maybe the task came from a weekly team sync or a one-on-one with your manager. If you're taking notes and capturing the task in your notebook or note-taking app, the surrounding notes provide valuable details about the work that needs to get done.
The context is lost when you copy and paste the task from your notes, by itself, into the task management app. You separate it from information about why it needs to be done and what you might need to do it.
When you go to complete the task, you often spend too much time and energy searching for and reviewing your notes to ensure you have all the information you need to get it done. This is not a sustainable way to work, especially when employee productivity is under a microscope.
Sign up for Sticky — meetings, notes, and tasks in one workflow!
3. The app becomes yet another inbox
Adding tasks to the app is one step and the easiest. But as you add new tasks, you need to categorize the tasks and constantly reprioritize your list manually. This type of busy work gets pushed aside for more pressing matters. Then, before you know it, your growing task list is as messy and daunting as your email inbox.
Who wants to tackle that? No one.
4. The app has too many features
Task workflow is simple. You capture tasks, prioritize, schedule, delegate, complete, and report on them. Yet "mature" to-do apps have layers upon layers of features to address every possible need. These apps are bloated, confusing, and "fiddly" with too many fields, labels, and date pickers. You're using the app to be more productive, but you waste more time and energy engaging with features that aren't helping you get the most important stuff done. Doh! The irony!!
It's also worth noting that some apps:
Want you to estimate the time it will take to complete your tasks—we all stink at that!
Generate annoying and spammy emails to other people when delegating tasks or requesting status updates
Generate more disruptive “reminder” notifications that disrupt your focus and demand attention
Sticky—the app you can stick with
With Sticky, these issues are solved with an app that integrates your calendar, notes, and tasks into one workflow.
Sticky lets you create notes for your meetings with one click and capture tasks directly in your notes. This way, you don’t lose focus and waste time and energy toggling between apps or transferring tasks from one place to another. You can take notes in a meeting and capture a task in-line with a few keystrokes.
Sticky automatically brings all your tasks together so you can easily prioritize all the work you need to do in one place. You can quickly view the notes each task came from with one click if you need additional context. And with everything in one place, it's easy to schedule and track the completion of things!
Sticky can't take away all the pressure you feel at work, but it can make navigating busy days easier. By helping you streamline how you capture and prioritize tasks, Sticky ensures you focus your time on getting the most important things done. That's how you boost productivity and performance. Ditch your task management app and get Sticky.