min read
September 21, 2014

Do we need an app to be mindful? The double edge sword of productivity.

Digital Trends

This back- to- school season we've ditched our notebooks in lieu for productivity apps, because who really needs a pen and paper nowadays? At the core of the pursuit of productivity lies mindfulness, and digital technology is readily available to help us change our ways. But do we really need them?A common gripe among working professionals is lack of good sleep.Sleepio is a sleep therapy service that will track your sleeping patterns, importing data from UP, Fitbit or Bodymedia, and will provide a virtual sleep expert to advise on your schedule, lifestyle and overall behaviors. Originally designed to support Apple's Healthkit, it's a new form of'digital medicine' and gives the individualthe power to "cure" insomnia without the in-person doctor visit.The irony of Sleepio and similar health focused apps is that most of us are not sleeping well because of our constant interaction with our phones. According to a 2012 study, nearly three-quarters of people from the age 18-44 sleep with their phones within reach.Sleep textingis a real thing among teens. Anytime, anywhere and "always on" accessibilityimpedes the ability to disconnect and the physical exposure to artificial light and stimuli to writing just one more email suppresses the release of melatonin, the sleep- promoting hormone.Forest is an app designed to help you put down your phone for 30 minutes. If you successfully leave your phone untouched, a tree will grow. And if you really have self restraint, a forest can grow (win). In a similar vein, we reviewed Checky, an app that counts how many times you, likely mindlessly, open your phone.

“Turns out, the secret to retaining the highest level of productivity over the span of a workday is not working longer--but working smarter with frequent breaks,"- Julia Gifford, The Muse

In an effort to be productive, are we over stimulating every aspect of our lives? It is hard to argue with data, especially when self-aggregated, which is coincidentally the cornerstone of most productivity apps. And we sure do love a good app, but just as we advise to businesses,be strategic in your choices. Spending every waking hour logging your activities into various apps surely is not the best use of your time. Recharging, shutting down at night and taking breaks during the day have proven to enhance productivity by up to 10%. Bring back the in-person meetings, walk away from your desk,take a vacation.