Rationalizing Productivity App Purchases – when is enough, enough? 4

Being in the productivity space, I often find ways to rationalize my app purchases and monthly subscriptions to various different apps. I typically pitch it to myself as, “I’m doing this to help everyone else!”. That works for awhile, but then when I look at my credit card statement, those $.99, $3.99, $5.00, and $29.99 apps begin to really add up.

What’s worse is that our addiction to finding the latest and greatest app typically leads to nothing more than going down a rabbit hole. I’ve talked about it several times on this site about how we spend an inordinate amount of time researching everyone else’s system. Suddenly, we find that we’ve wasted countless hours and money on how to get things done, rather than actually getting things done! Then, when we purchase a big ticket productivity app, our rationalization is something along the lines of, “Well, I’ve invested this much money, this will be motivation for me sticking with it for sure!”. That typically leads to one of two things: 1) You’ve nailed it! The investment in time and money was well worth it because you have a ‘mind like water’ and ‘balance’ in your lives! Inboxes are at zero and you’re a well oiled machine. Nothing can stop you! 2) You go at it for a bit, but like a novice runner trying to finish a full marathon, you collapse at mile marker 3.

In this blog post, I’ve received permission to share an email sent to me by someone I can definitely call a friend; mainly because he’s friends with one of my friends, he’s also a lawyer, shares a passion for productivity apps, is a new fan of fountain pens like me, and loves to feel productive!

Take a look at his e-mail and at the end, I want you to share with me at the end of this post the following:

1) Have you been there?

2) Are you there now?

3) What tips or suggestions would you offer?

Here you go …

As I just dropped another 50 dollars on Omnioutliner and 30 on Omnioutliner for ipad, I realized that I need to rationalize my recent productivity purchases.  More about about Omnioutliner later,  but for now I’m using it as a stylish, expandable and exportable brainstorming app!   

Of course rationalizing works best when you take a macro view of your purchases so this is what I’ve come up it with.

Productivity purchases are broken down on a per day cost basis.  Omni recently updated the products that I’ve purchased and they typically have a 4-5 year shelf life, so they are broken down using a per day cost over 4 years.

  • Dropbox $120 per year = .33 a day
  • Evernote $50 per year  = .14 day
  • Omnifocus $80 over 4 years =  .06 a day
  • Omnifocus 2 for iphone $20 over 4 years = .01 (, almost free)
  • Backblaze $60 per year =  .17 per day (Okay, not technically productivity app, but it does relieve me of worrying about off site backup, thus making me more productive)
  • Omniplanner $50 over 4 years = .04 per day
  • Omniplanner ipad $30 over 4 years= .02 per day

So, at this rate, I am only spending approx. $0.77 a day to be more productive, not to mention that Dropbox, Evernote, and Backblaze do a lot more than simple productivity (Rationalizing already you see).

So, using this breakdown, 

Rationalization #1–  If everyday all you had to do to be more productive was take a dollar out of your wallet or fish a dollars worth of change out of your couch cushions, would you do it? I only spend .77 per day.  Since I’m willing to pay a dollar a day to be productive, that means I should be spending an extra .23 per day or an extra $84 dollars a year, right?  I am such a slacker, time to stop reading books and websites and find some more apps to buy!

Rationalization #2– I drink water.  For years I drank soda and tea at home and at restaurants.  Several months ago, in an attempt to get in better shape, I quit all soda and tea completely.  An unintended side effect was that I found I had a lot more money!  Do you realize how much it costs to purchase a drink from a fast food joint?  It’s at least a dollar and usually good bit more.  Given that I usually eat out at least once per day, I’m now saving at minimum a dollar and likely 2-3dollars a day since I just drink water.  This alone pays for my productivity purchases!  Spending a dollar a day now seems a little pitiful since I’ve been saving so much money!  See how easy this rationalizing thing is.

Rationalization #3 –  I’m using Apple store/iTunes credit for most of these purchases.  My credit card gives me points towards Apple gift cards, so I’m not even spending real money!  Basically Apple and my Barclays credit card are funding my productivity.

Rationalization #4 – My daughter is really smart.  She turned 2 today and let me just say that I have a wicked smart toddler on my hands.  Given this fact, a scholarship is certainly in her future.  As I am relieved of the responsibility of saving for my daughters education, what’s a little money spent on apps! (Okay I am kidding about this one).

Rationalization #5 – I won’t get fired.  With these purchases, I am more productive and thus a better employee.  So by the end of this year I would have spent over $400 dollars on apps/services but if I hadn’t spent this money, I’d be a terrible employee and could be terminated.

Rationalization #6 – $400 bucks, I got more than that on my tax refund this year.  Speaking of taxes, I am sure these purchases are deductible as business expenses.   

So, thats what I have come up with so far!!!  I am sure if I rationalize really hard, I could come up with more!

Have a great day.  Oh yea, I need to spend about $84 more this year, so ideas appreciated!


About Daniel Gold

Daniel Gold is a productivity coach, keynote speaker, author, and podcaster. He is most well known for his eBooks, Evernote: The Unofficial Guide to Capturing Everything and Getting Things Done, Simplify your Life with Springpad, and Make it Happen: How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your eBook. Daniel is also the co-host of the GTD® Virtual Study Group podcast.

  • Good reality check, sometimes we tend to go overboard with our productivity apps

  • This is so true. I find that it is very easy to go overboard not just with productivity apps, but also with productivity books. This is especially easy when I think, “I’m doing this to help everyone else!” I wonder how many others feel this way?

  • Dave M

    1) Have you been there? Absolutely!!!

    2) Are you there now? Absolutely!!! Been thinking a lot lately about what to purchase new (if anything), what to renew, and/or what to ditch! So far, just about everything is on the “ditch” list.

    3) What tips or suggestions would you offer? Purchasing a “productivity app” definitely does NOT make me more productive. In fact, if I’m being honest, paper & pen makes me the most productive, and it just feels good to write stuff down, and cross it off (not just tick an electronic box or swipe to the right). If you must have an electronic app, there are so many awesome free ones out there (Wunderlist, Todoist, Google tasks, etc). For something like Evernote, which contains pretty much my entire life, I can rationalize $45/year. But even then, the free version does all I really need. As for backups, there is way too much free cloud storage and various free backup apps available to justify paying. Fortunately, I don’t have a whole lot to backup (mostly pictures, videos, and paperless files), so I can easily get by with free space offered. Besides, it all gets backed up to external drives and rotated in/out of a media-rated fire safe. Everything I ABSOLUTELY cannot live without and cannot replace, is sitting in the cloud already and not costing me a dime.

  • Hildegerd Haugen

    Well, Springpad that had everything under one roof did not take money for their service, and are now closing on us, and there is not one app out there like it to choose from either…