The new app trap

September 1, 2017

New app comes out. Boom. Want it. No, NEED it. Gotta have it. Price? Doesn’t matter. How have I ever lived without this?

New apps are constantly being released. It can be overwhelming to track what’s out there. Whether it’s for your smart phone or computer, there’s always something new and updated with improvements and features to make our lives supposedly better. So, I wonder: do you ever feel your current setup isn’t good enough?

This happens to me ALL THE TIME. And it’s my own fault. I purposefully stay up-to-date with new stuff. I peruse the App Store every week for anything trending or noteworthy. I want the best tools and don’t want to fall behind the pack.

I fell in the trap — have you?

Here’s what happened to me recently: I downloaded the app “Todoist,” which is GREAT for tracking your lists and due dates. It is beautiful and has lots of great features. I quickly got it on all my devices and transferred over my projects.

But like most things that seem great at first, I discovered its limitations and flaws. It was only a matter of time.

Before Todoist, I used OmniFocus, then I switched to Nozbe, both were great. Both had flaws.

Learning Nozbe and Todoist was FUN. But I could have focused on the things to actually DO on my list instead of focusing on the TOOL itself.

My friend Greg calls this the Windshield Syndrome. We sometimes obsess over a THING that’s supposed to be transparent, instead of enjoying the wonder of what’s beyond. Imagine you’re in your car on a summer evening looking at an incredible starry sky and full moon. No one talks about the windshield. We’re too interested in what we’re seeing.

Yet, too often, I find myself spending too much time purchasing windshields—various apps, plugins, widgets, and etc—instead of getting to work.Too often, I talk more about the TOOL required to do the work, instead of the work that needs to be done.

So here’s my advice to myself and anyone feeling tempted to use a new app:

1. Accept the fact that ALL apps have flaws, even if you can’t see them yet

It is inevitable that the new app you’re excited about will, at some point, fall short. There will be a missing feature or weird setting that frustrates you, just like your current stuff. You have already embraced these issues with your current set up, and you’re getting things done. You’re already ahead of the game and making things happen. Don’t worry about the new app. It will have its issues. Just keep working.

Accept the fact that all apps have their flaws, even if you can’t see them yet.

It is inevitable that the new app you’re excited about will fall short at some point.

2. Resist the temptation of “missing out”

FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real thing. But JOMO (JOY of missing out) is a real thing, too. You can experience the JOY of continuing to use what you already have, and get your work done, which is what professionals do.

It is a joy to…

  • Get to the finish line
  • Behave like a professional (see Going Pro, Steven Pressfield)
  • To do meaningful work
  • Save money
  • To focus on the CONTENT, not the tool

Resist the temptation of missing out.

3. Focus on the WORK, not the TOOL

Doing work that matters is hard. It takes a professional to get things done. Discovering tools and testing them out is easy. So spend the minimum time necessary getting your tools and then get to work.

Focus on the WORK, not the TOOL

4. It’s OK to use stuff that’s OLD

Think about all the great books, movies, podcasts, live events, music, and other accomplishments that are already PUBLIC out in the world. A lot of it was COMPLETED using yesterday’s operating system, yesterday’s software, and yesterday’s tools.

Along the way, they had issues and temptations to use “new and improved software,” but they got it done. You can, too.

It’s OK to use stuff that’s OLD

5. Limitations cause creativity

Creatives often believe the sky is the limit. But it turns out that options often decrease productivity. According to the Brothers Heath, Austin Kleon, and cognitive research, more options make people less likely to choose. New software features will not expand your creativity, it may ruin it.

Working with what you have means you might have to get creative, which is a good thing. Remember that Limitations CAUSE creativity.

6. If you get a new app, learn it strategically and QUICKLY

If you do go ahead and purchase that new piece of software, learn it quickly. M

Find specific blocks of time to watch tutorials or take a course 

Most robust pieces of software have some kind of course or detailed tutorials available. Do a Google search and see what you find, but don’t dive in right away. First, block off a weekend, a few weeknights, or wake up early to specifically LEARN the software, so you don’t fall behind on your other work.

Seriously, put it on your calendar.

Find good courses and tutorials

You may need to PAY, for or another experienced instructor to walk you through the course.

Pay? Really? Yes. It’s cheaper this way. Paying for the course means you will spend less time stumbling onto new features, and more time using the features that are available.

Question: Have you ever fallen into the new app trap? I would love to hear about your experience.

Recent blog posts

Did you get my message?

Dealing with people who don’t reply is frustrating. However, when we ask “did you get my message?” it turns out we have a trust

Resistance to a next action

Sometimes we experience resistance when we look at our options for work (next actions). The next action item on the to do list

You don’t need a new computer

You think you need a new computer. You don’t. The work you’ve been called to do can be accomplished with everything you already

Distraction-Free iPhone

Learn how to customize your iPhone or smartphone to avoid distraction and endless scrolling.

A look at the Time Timer

3 minute video on how to visually see time pass. This method is used by CEOs and high-performance teams.

Intro to Pocket Notebooks

The world of notebooks is full of endless possibilities, but today, we will take a look at the trusty and practical pocket notebook.

Best Mac Apps – May 2020

I love the Mac and great apps. While researching and testing them can become a distraction, finding the best tools on the market

Before-we-start agreements

It can be so easy to jump in to a task, a job, or project. However, this can create issues. Have you ever

Direct statements

Listen to this (3½  minutes)   We all have things we wish we could come right out and say, but often don’t for

There will always be opposition

  Have you ever encountered someone who doesn’t agree with your point of view or see things the same way you do? I’m

Decide to focus

  • You must make a choice to focus your attention on something specific.
  • If you don’t choose to focus, someone else will — or you will be driven by the what’s current and catastrophes.
  • The best leaders and thinkers are disciplined about focusing daily.

Influence and impact

One thing you can keep in mind each day is that you have influence and impact as an individual person. It can be common to

Asking “how might we” questions

A powerful tool to help your leadership is to ask great questions. Yes, there is such a thing as a bad question. In school, teachers

Are you on the list?

I send periodic email updates for high-achievers who want to grow.