Productivity apps are popular smartphone downloads. From Evernote to Wunderlist to Any.do, these programs will organize your to-do list, streamline your schedule and help you get more done. But they don't work if you don't use them.
Omer Perchik, CEO of Any.do, wondered why some of his seven million users were more successful than others when it came to using the app. After studying their behavior, he found the ‘super users’ – those people who were consistently getting more done – shared these five habits:
1. They review their tasks each morning.
Instead of starting your day with whatever presents itself first, Perchik found that Any.do's best users open the app every morning to review and create a plan.
"Productive people plan ahead," says Perchik. "When you have a plan, you feel on top of things and create a momentum to get things done."
Whether you use a productivity app, a written list or a file on your computer, start your morning by reviewing your tasks and planning your day.
2. They allocate tasks across a timeline.
A long list of tasks with no deadline is hard to accomplish and creates stress. Instead, the most productive people schedule tasks across a timeline of today, tomorrow and someday. Using a full spectrum of time to allocate tasks, no matter how many or how few, is a major predictor in success, says Perchik.
"It's not just about being realistic about what you can get done, it's about giving yourself a mental safety net," says Perchik.
3. They break tasks down.
Instead of putting big tasks on their list, highly productive people plan and schedule two to three sub-tasks at a time within a larger goal. For example, instead of writing, "finish client presentation," you might break it down into "research prices," "write proposal," and "create PowerPoint," making it easier for a user to get through the list of things.
"Productive people are comfortable with certainty in the short term and uncertainty in the long term when it comes to task management," says Perchik.
4. They create a "someday" list.
Most entrepreneurs have short-term and long-term goals they'd like to accomplish. Instead of putting all of those thoughts on their task list, Perchik says the most productive people fill a catchall list with things they'd like to do but that can't be scheduled right now.
"Someday tasks took up 40 percent of overall tasks among our best users," says Perchik, who adds that users should continually reevaluate this list as only around 17 percent of those someday tasks get moved up. "After six weeks, the probability of a catchall idea actually getting done drops off sharply."
5. They don't reschedule, they delete.
Constantly rescheduling a task can be emotionally taxing. Productive people don't fall into that trap, says Perchik. In fact, Any.do's super users were comfortable with quickly and permanently deleting tasks before they were completed. Less productive users would reschedule up to 21 times before giving up on completion and finally deciding to delete.
"If you've rescheduled something too many times, the probability of you doing it is low," says Perchik. "Postponing something isn't a bad thing. It is an indicator that you may be doing the wrong thing."