The new app trap

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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 Lynda.com 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.

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