Gone are the years where most people used Post-it notes or email flags to prioritise tasks.
The tools we use to track our performance at work have crossed into our personal lives and have the potential to control us. It may be time to rethink whether tracking and uploading tasks into various apps is really the path to success.
MORE IDEAS FROM Why relying on productivity tools can backfire
Global sales of wearable devices that track daily activity and allow users to get notifications will reach $1bn by 2022.
One neuroscientist says part of the attraction for users is the way many of these apps 'reward' users. When you see your step count or sleep hours in an app, it creates a feedback loop where you experience an immediate reward. Progress badges can become more important than the outcome itself.
Data suggests that employees are struggling with software overload. Productivity is declining while burnout is rising. Research from 2018 shows that the average operational support worker changed 1,100 times between 35 applications during a working day.
While good productivity apps can help, there is still a question of whether we really want to become more productive, or just seem to be more effective.
Before the pandemic people were non-stop on the go, now people are rethinking the qualitative aspect of being productive. Instead of seeing how many items we can tick off our list, we have an opportunity to ask if it was more innovative, purpose-driven or socially-driven.
And some of the solutions linked to discipline can be solved even without technology.
While the desire to complete a set of tasks within a timeframe is not a new phenomenon, our cultural obsession with personal productivity is.
In the 1990s, technology was promoted as a time-saving tool, such as search engines that saved us hours of digging for information. We could suddenly do more with potentially less work. No wonder we started to embrace a lifestyle that could maximise productivity.
More than ever, people struggling with mental health issues are turning to therapy apps. While some applications connect you with a licensed therapist, many apps have gone humanless - from friendly chatbots that offer cognitive behavioural therapy to apps that claim to help people through acute stress with deep breathing exercises.
While studies suggest that some of these applications are effective treatments for mental illness, experts are concerned with the rapid growth of unregulated apps.
Many people see time management as a priority. That means allocating specific times to particular tasks to maximise productivity. But there's a difference between organising time to enhance productivity and viewing it as a goal in itself to define a life well spent.
Experts suggest some tasks don't fit into the time management grid. When you are spending time with family or a leisure activity, productivity is not a goal. Hyper-organisation can also have emotional consequences, particularly when it doesn't go according to plan.
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