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Why task management apps don’t work out for individuals

Updated: Jan 9, 2023

The productivity apps for teams such as Asana, Trello or even issue tracker apps such as Jira are instrumental to how teams or the entire companies define and organise various tasks. Similar apps aimed at individuals, however, are often initially followed, but as the TODO list grows, they turn ever more daunting and are ignored or avoided and later dismissed or uninstalled by their users.

Regardless, these apps are not inherently bad. In fact, some of the features, such as time blocking with pomodoro and focus mode, task suggestions to reduce the cost of decisions, and listing and categorising tasks to make them easier to manage are based on well-studied productivity ideas, reverberated across various books on productivity, such as Deep Work and Get Things Done. Below are four key elements, which in my opinion, all the task management apps designed for individuals lack:

  1. Commitment

  2. Encouragement

  3. Rewards

  4. Excitement

1. Commitment

In the productivity apps for teams when a team member is assigned a task, they immediately become answerable for that task. There is a real sense of accountability and commitment. Whilst working in isolation, without having anyone to report or update to, the commitment gets lost. To do or not to do a TODO item becomes a matter of whim or deadlines. Focusmate brings back the commitment element by pairing you up with a remote co-worker and facilitating you both to work over a video session.

2. Encouragement

Often the tasks we undertake require multiple sessions before they are finished. While in a team, you get to share regular progress updates. Often the team leader, if not everyone in the team, knows how well you are doing and what is holding you back, giving you the necessary feedback and encouragement to keep you motivated. Individuals working in isolation are devoid of this encouragement.

3. Rewards

Rewards offered through gamification in productivity apps, such as points or virtual diamonds, is not often effective at combating procrastination. The part of the brain that causes procrastination can see through these shallow rewards and persuade us to continue procrastinating. So long gamification.

4. Excitement

Often there is nothing other than the reminder notifications that attract you towards these apps. You don’t feel excited or joy when opening them. Instead, they require some discipline and overcoming of certain level of mental pain to open them and go through the task list.

How Confluo solves these issues

Any of the above problems can have multiple solutions. Below is a list of features supported in Confluo to help solve above issues:

  1. Highlights for the tasks: Focusmate is great but keeping your camera on for the entire duration of the session is not feasible while not indoor. What is more, Focusmate sessions are only limited to activities that can be carried out on a desk, for instance, studies or computer work. Instead, Confluo allows tasks to have highlights. Whilst a the title of a task can be specific and private, its highlight can be generic and public, which gets shared with your network when you work on it. Sharing what you are up to creates a certain level of commitment.

  2. Supportable highlights: Your followers provide you with the necessary encouragement by expressing their support for the highlights that you share with them.

  3. Skills as reward: Besides the highlights, tasks also have skills. Depending upon how many hours you have worked on that task, the associated skills get added to your profile, thereby allowing you to build and showcase a concrete set of skills.

  4. Feed of highlights: Having the in-built social networking and highlights feed makes you want to check out the app. You can follow people with similar interests and see what they're up to, and last but not least, pick up a task of your own to make progress on.

Overall, Confluo aims to become the go to app for managing tasks and activities for individuals. But why stop there? In addition to above features, Confluo also supports collaboration on activities and projects with friends or teams.

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