The reality of the paperless…procrastination

Two years using an electronic planning software. An application. An app.

Totally synched between my computer AND my iPad. Could have synched the iPhone too but since this app had to be purchased for every device and I always thought that the iPhone (or any phone or phablet) is too small for this task…why bother then? (oh, by the way, either the phone is too small or my fingers are too big….in any case, having my fingers surgically modified to fit the phone was out of the question….non mais !!!)

The weekly planning session was a charm. No more rewriting of uncompleted items. A simple push of the finger and voilà !…pushed to next day/week/month.

The daily ritual of looking at what had to be done was even simpler as I DID NOT have to really look: the app would let me know by sending a visual reminder on my computer as I was working. Or on my iPad!

Perfectly synched with my regular appointments on my electronic calendar, the two softwares would interact to let me know what was going to happen.

I had full control of my life, my meetings, my to-do lists !!!

Why then, did I start feeling unaccomplished after a year or so of using these fabulous applications ?

And that feeling increased over the next few months.

As I was developing a pen & paper planner for a client, I suddenly had this powerful urge to use it myself and drop the app.


At first, I blamed myself for not being disciplined enough or smart enough to use the app correctly. But then I thought back on the last 14 years using a P&P planning tool… was I disciplined enough? You bet !! And not smart enough? Excuuuuse me! ( I know, a little humility might be appropriate here but then, I was using a computer in 1987 running on DOS, I should have been able to use an iPad app in 2012 !!!)

Why then ?

I then blamed the app itself ! I really needed to blame someone, or something.  But then, this app and all the others in its category (i.e. paying app !) had been having rave reviews all over the place. Not the app then as it was clearly performing.

Again, why ?

I think I understand now.

Here is my hypothesis in three parts : planning using electronic devices only DOES NOT WORK  for three reasons :

Reason #1- The automated or semi-automatic tasks are TOO easily managed.

OR rather, too easily PUSHED to a later time.

The apps stimulates procrastination by allowing the user to simply delay the execution by literally a swipe of the finger. It starts insidiously at first. In fact, it is sooo nice to simply push something out of today’s list and thinking “oh, I am not forgetting this but let’s do it tomorrow“.

The problem is that the list of pushed items grows very rapidly.

And what does any normal person do when a loooooong list of items to be completed appears in front of their eyes ? The impulse to push it further is veeeeery strong !

Imagine two years of item-pushing……which brings me to the second part of the hypothesis.

Reason #2- The task management applications are NOT priority management applications

Indeed ! As long as you consider only tasks and to-do lists, you do not manage priorities. You manage tasks. Only with a wider and longer view of your projects can you develop a sense of priority and proper planning. Execution is then vastly improved. In order to do that, you must think deeply about the projects, on-going and future projects, and align them with the rest of the current tasks and jobs to be completed.

This CAN be accomplished on the aforementioned sophisticated applications. However, it takes a multi-tasking tablet or a large screen to do it well because you need to see and feel both your calendar, your time management app and maybe a project management windows.

Which brings me to the third reason why I went back to a P&P tool….

But since I got carried away writing this long assay, part 3 will be yours for reading next week !!

The whole series is here , part 1-4

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