Why Productivity Apps Lead Designers to Procrastination

{ 🤔 } – You Need to Have a Choice

Photo by Andrea PiacquadioPexels

This article was originally published on Muzli.

Productivity is a crucial element for your work. You want to do more tasks and not sacrifice quality. You’ve heard that productivity apps are great and want to use them? You tried to improve your productivity and failed?

While productivity apps are great, they can affect your creativity level. You can start to postpone your tasks.

“You tell yourself that you deserve to relieve a little stress and put the project off until later. Sound familiar? We’ve all experienced it. It’s known as the enemy of productivity, and it’s called procrastination.”

— Caroline Castrillon in Forbes

Many designers work too much. I’m one of them. I can work with multiple companies or projects and become too tired very soon. This is the nature of human limits.

Productivity apps affect you differently. You can feel energetic physically, but your mental health is at a low level. Why it happens, and what’s going on with productivity apps for designers?

Productivity Apps Restrict Your Creativity

Productivity apps stifle creativity and hamper your ability to create a unique design that surpasses the boundaries and becomes something great. If you micromanage yourself with time trackers and other productivity apps, you will surely hate the final outcome.

Productivity apps distract you from doing meaningful tasks.

If you’ve ever used a to-do list app or other productivity tools, you must have felt something changed in your psychology.

“Completing busywork gives you a feeling of accomplishment without the corresponding stress which comes along with more challenging tasks.”

— Ilya Pozin in Forbes

Designers usually struggle to make a new personal record — trying to spend less time on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media. But you should always re-evaluate your core goals and decide whether you should focus on something else.

Making a new record might not be the best thing for you and your customers.

Creating a to-do list may seem like a great idea on paper, but it actually kills your creative process. To effectively manage the time, you need to balance productivity apps. It means that you can create something amazing without sacrificing your creativity.

What’s wrong with productivity tools? They’re highly restrictive. They restrict you from doing something unique and creative. Productivity tools presume that you know what is good for you.

They take away your freedom to create something valuable for yourself and our society. They force you to do things that you don’t like because it’s listed in the app.

Overall, productivity tools aren’t effective when we talk about designing stuff for customers. You can create something great if you stop using productivity apps.

You’ll have more time to spend on meaningful things. Productivity apps make you feel guilty if you don’t “do something” about your time.

They create an illusion that every minute must be accounted for. There is no point in wasting your energy on tasks that don’t help your design process.

The obsession with productivity is a sign of failure.

If you’re in your twenties, you might be guilty of doing 1 hour of productive work and getting obsessed with “productivity.” It sounds ridiculous to say, but you can get addicted to it.

At any age, getting obsessed with productivity tools may lead you to robotic mode, where you try to do as much as possible. This path leads you to procrastination in a very short period of time.

Live and Work According to Your Schedule

Working according to your schedule will make you much more productive and help you focus on your design projects. You’ll work according to the schedule and speed up your work.

You’ll start to work on tasks without creative freedom. You have a schedule. You need to do X task, then Y task. There is no other way. Stay productive.

Do you really want such a productivity mode?

“Can we really safeguard against burnout? I’m not so sure we can, which is why I believe we must disrupt this concept altogether and approach it in a more thoughtful way: work-life negotiation.”

— Christopher Mullen, PhD in Forbes

The way you work today is not sustainable. Personal lives have been reduced to a minimum. Work hours are eight per day, ten hours per day, and even more. You don’t get enough sleep and eat unhealthy food.

All of this makes us spend less time with our personal lives by making us obsessively focused on work. You lose your own identity in the process. The opportunity to create something amazing disappears as well.

Why does it happen? When you want to be more productive, you prioritize your work over your personal life. It means you start to cut time from your life and increase your work schedule.

It doesn’t worth doing so.

You need to make your personal life a priority. If you feel confident and happy, your productivity will increase naturally. No productivity apps are needed for it.

When you adopt your schedule and cut your life on purpose, it’s bad. You don’t increase your productivity. You kill it.

The better option is to do work that matters and do the things that really make you happy. Use your resources to create something amazing for yourself, for others, and your community.

So which productivity tools will help you?

Well, the answer is simple: none of them. Not only that, but they will also inevitably disappoint you, and they’ll do your work in a way that you don’t enjoy.

You need to use the life-work negotiation principle instead of productivity tools. Your personal life and work need to go along, so you still feel happy and love how you work and live.

My 1-Month Experiment and Procrastination

As a good designer, I wanted to increase my productivity and work more and fast. The simple reason behind this was to increase my income. I suppose it’s a major reason why you also might want to start using productivity tools.

I decided to improve my productivity and scheduled tasks for the whole month. I included everything — sleep, cooking, work, cleaning, walking, etc.

My work and life were perfectly balanced within my calendar. At least I thought like that. I procrastinated.

I worked and lived according to my schedule for the whole month. I felt drained and empty. I didn’t want to design anymore.

I completely forgot about a lot of tasks for the whole month. Did I was extremely productive with my design projects? No, I didn’t. The creativity feel and inspiration went quickly.

I stopped thinking innovatively and just wanted to finalize everything quickly. It’s not what designers need to do.

Unlike programmers, we don’t have a clear vision of the working process. We individually invent each product.

I imagined what if I’ll live with this crazy productivity schedule for 3 months or 6 months? I already procrastinated after one month. After this experiment, I needed a short break to gain creative mode again and find inspiration.

So, if you want to try out this kind of productivity, do it for a month and see how it works for you.

What I did was not sustainable, and I know that if I continued doing that, things would get worse and worse the longer I would keep on doing stuff like that.

If you want your work and life to be meaningful, you need to do it according to your schedule. All I can say is that I’m not a fan of productivity apps. They tell me what I need to do. It’s my life, and I want to say what to do instead.

Getting your tasks done doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing great work.

Many people think that getting things done is the only thing that matters when it comes to productivity and working on something significant and meaningful, but the truth is different.

So what’s the key to doing great work as a designer? Focus on what really matters. Your creative process and your customer’s needs are vital, and I’m pretty sure about that.

But there can be many things that run in the background that steal your attention from those most important aspects of your job.

These ‘things’ can be procrastination factors or productivity tools. Always keep them in mind when working on something that gives meaning to your life and work.

Final Thoughts

Productivity is great quality for a designer. When you want to be more efficient, the first thing that comes into your mind is productivity apps. Instead of caring about your work, you start to ruin your personal life.

When your life is affected, your productivity goes down immediately. Instead of using productivity apps, find a balance between your work and personal life so you don’t feel drained.

A happy and full of joy life leads to your productivity increase automatically. Play with your life-work balance in a natural way, adjust your schedule so you can still have enough time for both activities.

Once you find a golden balance between your life and work and feel happy, productivity will increase without any tools.

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Olha Bahaieva Avatar

Olha Bahaieva / UI/UX Designer, Medium Author, Public Speaker @ Toptal

Olha Bahaieva is a senior UI/UX designer, Medium author and public speaker at Toptal.