The Distraction of Inadequacy

One of the biggest questions that I have had regarding my use of 2Do as my task management system of choice is how, with a plethora of other solutions, I arrived at this one. When I started, my old system was not handling what I needed to get done. I looked at what other people were doing, what they were accomplishing, and wanted to know what solution they found to get their tasks done.

I follow some prominent figures in the tech community, people that are well respected in the world of productivity. A lot of them were using OmniFocus as their task management system. I was gravitating to that app, drawn to it because so many others were able to accomplish wonderful things by using the app suite.[^1] Because my system wasn’t working, I started to have feelings of inadequacy.

As I was trying OmniFocus, my friend Rob and I would debate this a lot: which one was “better”. Through all of those conversations, we would make quips back and forth about the other’s system and how we thought things were better. I tried OmniFocus, asked questions, and got answers. And I really wanted to like it. We were talking about it a lot, and it was helping me feel more adequate. But ultimately, it was a couple months of a distraction.[^2]

This is a powerful feeling: feeling inadequate can happen in variety of different facets of your life — where you work, the job you do, social status, skills, financial success, etc. The list of things that can lead to that feeling is only bound by how humans think, and how everyone looks to someone who appears to have their collective shit together.[3]

As I wrestled with my own inadequacy of my system, I felt a tremendous pressure to try out a new method. When something isn’t working, it is a natural human tendency to want to switch to something you think will work. It is something that is healthy to attempt from time-to-time. Setting aside reasonable amounts of time to test new things is good, and can curb some of the productivity addiction that can come into your life.

Generally, you look at someone else’s life, how successful they are, and you covet that lifestyle: you want your success to be like theirs. “Great artists steal inspiration”. And while being inspired to create new things of your own, including personal productivity, you also need to be careful to not be distracted by someone else to create what works for you.

I had been using 2Do on iOS for a while, long before it started gaining the much-deserved acclaim it has been getting over the past months. And unfortunately, I became very distracted because I allowed my feeling of inadequacy to get the best of me. I was changing myself to make something new work, losing the originality that I had with how my brain works.

Had I put as much effort in to learning 2Do the first time as I did when trying to learn OmniFocus, I would have been months ahead on the guide I recently published. I would have been near the front of the pack rather than in the middle. Prominent figures like Federico Viticci and Benjamin Brooks published their love of the app while I was still trying to figure out all of the nuances. I was behind the curve due to my distraction. And while I can look back with some regret at the path I chose, I can see the valuable lessons that it taught me going forward.

I can’t really explain why I felt this way. Maybe it’s a bit of wanting to fit in, feeling like I’m one of the cool kids and I’m earning my place at the table. Maybe it’s a case of FoMO, and I don’t want to be left behind when a new, popular app gets released. But it’s a false peer pressure, because at the end of it all, no one really cares what I use. The biggest person I fight with over the things I use is myself. And maybe I don’t tell myself often enough to shut up and just be me. I don’t need to go all Tyler Durden, but I should stand up to my own internal thoughts.

The short version of all of this: use something that works for you. Try things out, see if you like them. But if your current system works, if you’re handling what you need to get done, don’t distract yourself from what you’re doing to move to another system because someone says so. You don’t have to succumb to the social pressure and feelings of inadequacy with what you are doing.

As I continue writing, I hope to look at more things from my own viewpoint, but also not be distracted by other things. I can use my custom solution rather than something that is popular. The Internet is a big place, and here I have my own little spot. Here, I can explain why I’m adequate. Here, I can release the peer pressure and be true to myself. Here, I can focus and work to provide useful things to others. And that’s the feeling that I really wanted all along…

  1. I say app suite because, as I later found, to really make OmniFocus work, you need to use both an iOS device and a Mac to get the full feature set of the app.  ↩

  2. This was also the time where I showed Rob some things that were great about the way I was working, and he ended up switching to 2Do  ↩

  3. Spoiler alert: some how, some way, there is at least one part of their life that is a complete and utter mess. No one’s life is perfect.  ↩