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Going Beyond The Right App

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Systems Design
A couple days ago I showed you a video on how to pick the right app. In case you missed it, you can find it here.

On the surface, you’d think it’s just about picking apps. What’s the big deal about that, right?

But underneath it there’s a much bigger idea behind the video: it’s about the system.

Before I explain why, I want to get us on the same page when it comes to systems. As you might know, all systems consist of inputs, components, processes and outputs. To keep it simple, we’ll just focus on components.

An example of a simple system is doing laundry. You put your dirty clothes (component) in the washer (component), press a button (component) and you magically get clean clothes.

Your body is a complex system that consists of organs, a brain, blood, and all these other components that work together that allow us to live. That’s a very complex system.

In both examples, if you take away any of these components, the system doesn’t work the right way or completely stops working.

So what does this have to do with apps?

Everything. The app is an essential component of a bigger system. When you get the wrong app, you screw up the system.

So when you pick an app, you might think that the app is great by itself. Let’s take a todo list app as an example. There are a lot of great ones out there ranging from Evernote to Trello to OmniFocus to just plain ol’ Notepad.

They’ll work great when used in isolation but at some point you’ll hit a ceiling when you start tweaking and want to get the more out of it.

The app can work great by itself but if it doesn’t fit the system then you picked the wrong app (which can be a costly mistake – no matter how much you like the app). I’ve experienced this myself not too long ago when I had to make a decision between Evernote and Devonthink. The purpose was to have an app that would be used as my reference cabinet alongside my other apps such as OmniFocus (todo list) and Busycal (calendar).

When you compare all features, Devonthink is superior to Evernote. It just is. It’s extremely powerful and I love the smart and automated archive feature of it where you can just dump stuff in the inbox and it’ll automatically organize it for you. It’s pretty damn amazing.

But there was one big issue with Devonthink. It didn’t work with Dropbox.

I couldn’t store my DT archives on Dropbox because there would be sync issues. That’s a BIG problem because I use Dropbox for everything else in my life. All the apps on my phone are synced via Dropbox, all my photos are on there and literally everything I ever store on my computer is there. Since Devonthink doesn’t sync with it, I had to drop it and use Evernote instead.

Over the years I’ve learned that I’d rather have an imperfect app that fits a great system than have a superior app that doesn’t fit the system.

That’s why picking the right app is not about the app. It’s about the system.

You want to ask yourself: does the app fit in the system?

So I want you to start thinking about all your apps right now and how they fit in your system.

If you need help with that or want more examples of apps and systems, then we have something awesome for you. As you might know, we’ve recently launched the Dojo. It’s our private online community where we release a new course every month.

This month inside the Dojo we’re focusing on Simple Systems and we just released new videos where we reveal some of our own personal systems that we use.

These are very simple systems that everyone must have to be productive. Specifically, we cover:

  • How to organize your documents, files and folders on your computer
  • Our top 6 systems everyone must have to be productive and really efficient
  • How to keep your systems up to date
  • How often you should update your systems and how to do that
  • A simple system for staying on top of everything that comes your way (so you never lose important emails and notes ever again)

And a lot more. The Dojo is now to new members over the next 8 days before it’s closed again.

When you join today, you’ll immediately get our Simple Systems videos and see how other Asian Efficiency readers have their systems set up.

Click here to join the Dojo now and get the Simple Systems videos.

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