I Am App Challenged

via soulati

via soulati

Really cool bloggers write about really cool apps. They talk about how they use Scrivener (Gini Dietrich) and MarsEdit (Geoff Livingston) and Evernote (Susan Silver) and Trendspottr (Danny Brown) to automate, improve productivity, enhance performance, and any number of other awesome results-driven tasks.

I cringe in shame when I read these lists and tools and apps, for I am app challenged. I can’t get beyond the manual jotting down of headlines for blog posts or tearing out stories from the 37 periodicals that come to my office monthly or putting everything into my brain to organize.  I was never a great Day Planner or Steven Covey organizer, although I love those binders with all sorts of ways to organize and anticipate the date your hair needs coloring.

I am a manual sort of girl, and I really wish I could automate and graduate to the app world.

What’s wrong with me?

Wait, I think I know…it’s all about time. Taking the time to learn how to use another app better than scratching the surface means I have to spend hours doing so. Those hours are critical for me for writing content, working on billable deliverables for clients, and trying to keep the work flowing.

How do people find the time to be an app maven?

I need to learn video production, podcasting, how to install plug ins on my sidebar, manage my blog’s API, and read everyone’s books.

Would learning an app really enhance my productivity? Yesterday, in a frantic search for a new tweet chat tool, I turned to OneQube, a product of Internet Media Labs. While the tweets got sent, the stream never loaded so I had to resort to HootSuite for my 90-minutes as guest of #ConnectChat by @ProfNet, and there was a delay significant enough to cause me distress.

Which apps do you really love and use every day? Convince me to see the light!

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20 comments
3HatsComm
3HatsComm

Apps and tools - I'm challenged myself b/c there's no app that will read, analyze, interpret, curate for me so I'm stuck doing a few things old school. Gonna tag on what @Danny Brown and @profkrg mentioned; you're doing things your way so do that. Work it backwards. Instead of looking for an app, look at what you do first. Any process or procedure that is rote, virtually identical every time you do it? How does it start, end? If one of those is app based, then look for an app that connects or does that task you do. 

FWIW I use Evernote, tons of other good apps (TripIt is a good little travel organizer) but still haven't managed many time hacks via tools like IFTTT, still looking. My rule - the app/tool has to really save me time in the using, managing, setting up or it's not worth it. 

susansilver
susansilver

Oh Jayme, I can't believe I missed this. Thank you so much for the shout out. Since my last post on Evernote, I've started using it for just about everything life throws at me.

I totally understand the app challenge. I just got a smart phone a few weeks ago. The thing drives me nuts. I am not always sure that a mobile app is any better than the web experience. It is just different. I hate reading email on my phone, but Twitter and Facebook are more enjoyable.  

I would say, don't follow the crowd but your own heart. If the goal is to reduce time than learning something new may not be better. You have to weigh how useful you think it will be or trust your instincts that it will improve your experience. That is how I make decisions at least. 

wonderoftech
wonderoftech

Jayme, I expect that some day you will find a Killer App, one that hooks you and makes you wonder how you lived without apps.

You shouldn't have to learn apps. A good app should be useful and intuitive. You should be able to understand clearly what to do without an instruction book. If you can't, that's not your fault, that's the fault of the app developer.

A good app makes your life easier, not more complex. 

My Killer App was Google Maps. I was headed home from my daughters' school in England and was stopped in traffic for two hours on the motorway because I didn't have a smartphone to check traffic on Google Maps. If I had known, I could have taken the backroads and have been home in about 20 minutes.

Another time our family was traveling up I-95 in the US and got caught behind a motorcycle procession headed from DC to New York. They were traveling very slowly, and traffic was backed up for miles. We checked Google Maps, got off on a side road and were able to see where the motorcycle procession started. We got ahead of them and had smooth driving the rest of the trip.

I hope you find an app that is extremely useful to you someday, Jayme!


profkrg
profkrg

I am an app user, but regarding what you wrote—if your process isn't broke, don't fix it. I find myself dabbling with apps a lot. This is time I could spend elsewhere. If pen and paper work best for you, stick with that.

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Erin F.
Erin F.

I don't think I'll make you see any light. I dabble with tools, too, but if they don't flow within my overall process I don't use them. I think that's okay. If you have a process that works and brings results, adding an extra layer does nothing but aggravate. I try to be an Evernote user, and I've even messed around with Scrivener, but I've yet to find that either meshes with the way I do things. Time is a limited resource. I'd rather spend it productively than attempt to be more productive. I think Mike Vardy is a good resource on that point.

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Mark_Harai
Mark_Harai

@Danny Brown 's comment did't make me feel any better... Hey, can you lend us that geek side of your brain, Danny?

I'm convinced some people's brains are wired for tech and some are adverse to it :o  That be me... Maybe it's just a lazy excuse?  Priorities need adjusting?  

Well, all good things in time I suppose... I've learned many new things on web tech, but it takes me a year to learn what most people learn in the first month of blogging.

Keep going, Jayme - you will take the hill!

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

The great thing about apps, technology, etc, is you use what you need and learn about others from those you trust. I love tech because I'm a geek at heart, and like to try and break things to see how they work.

But that's just me.

I read you to learn about PR, the challenges PR pros face to stay relevant, etc. I don't expect you to be up to date with all the latest tech, because your strength lies elsewhere. And that's the beauty of people with different interests and expertise. :)

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

@susansilver Love that answer, Susan! The concept of Evernote is so appealing to me, and I know people are doing wonders with it. For me...it's that mentality of ideation and to stop and dip into the tedium that is learning minute detail and then applying it...well, I've learned that's just how I am! I am trying, though, to overcome that barrier to entry!

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

@wonderoftech LIKEEEEEE! A good app makes your life easier. So many folks ask me to test their betas; when I dive in to try and help, I'm looking for the wrong things to help them and not getting above board to see if the app could help me with productivity. By the time I've drilled in, I'm not really interested. Hmm, that's an interesting observation I just made about my habits. 

Need to look for ways to make my work product smarter and not ways to always help others be smarter. (Not to say I won't do that, b/c I will always.)

Thanks for letting me chat out loud. When you finally tap into the ticks, it's an ah-hah!

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

@profkrg Such a relief to hear this from you and many others, Kenna. As mentioned below, I put enormous pressure on myself to be smart about what's happening in the field, but I just can't do it all (although I try). I'll need to adjust the process as I'm finding myself getting sucked in deeper at the cost of business development. 

Hope you're enjoying some time off! Or, are you teaching summer classes?

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Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

@Erin F. I love what you said, "I'd rather spent it productively than attempt to be more productive." 

Love the concept of that...if we're so freaking organized are we really getting anything done? 

Summer, as all of you know, kicks my ass. As @Danny Brown wrote recently about being tired on top of being tired (yes, he now has babies who grow into school children with the summer off), I'm barely hanging on and so distracted. 

No app is going to help me manage that! Thanks, Erin!

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

@Mark_Harai @Danny Brown Woah, woah, woah. Waitjustaminute, Mistah! Coming from a guy who just launched a miraculous tech feat -- Blogger Beat? 

I'm thinkin' we need a virtual celebration, Mark! That's huge for you! I'm so impressed! 

Agree...my comfort is so not the tech. But, I just wish I could Evernote, ya know? Do what @Shonali does with spreadsheets and I bet she evernotes a ton.

Sigh...it's that starter thing of mine; can't sit in one spot long enough 'cuz I want to jump to the next when the first thing challenges me to restlessness.

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

@Danny Brown I love you for saying that. I thank you profusely. Whew, what a relief (no, seriously). I put so much pressure on myself and feel the FAIL; to have you say this removes some of that.

Meanwhile, I have always thought we lie in 3 buckets -- content (me), tech/tools/apps (you) and developers. 

I think that makes sense? And it's OK to dabble in others' territory to adopt key learnings; yet, the comfort zone is within your own.

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

@Soulati | Hybrid PR @Danny Brown @profkrg I've got a couple IFTTT recipes working - when I read something in Readability (or maybe it's Pocket) but know I don't have time to go back, comment, tweet from original, I can just favorite it there and then it goes to Buffer. But still, it's the time to read and curate that gets me. And that's just one, small task!

The blank slate isn't what scares me. Seeing a movie tonight, could have it blogged by tomorrow. Spin the wheel on SM topic du jour, I could crank out something. But those aren't posts that will help me or my biz in the slightest. I'm still in turnaround mode there, rethinking audience and content per my biz and career goals. Therein lies the big scary daunt. :)

profkrg
profkrg

@Soulati | Hybrid PR I went away from paper and consider going back frequently. My mind just works better on paper.

I am teaching a summer class online right now and headed in a couple week for summer teaching in Singapore. I'm also working on my dissertation. Break? How about working at home? I'm not going to complain. I'm with my kids and wearing gym shorts every day. Things could be a lot worse.

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