I've been doing a heavy amount of research on iOS automation lately. Yes, it's as geeky as it sounds. (A brief geek interlude: enjoy)

And back to the point: productivity. That's what iOS automation is about, getting things done faster, with less user input…hello efficiency. I love it. It's something new to learn, to challenge myself with, and frankly it's pretty fun. But some people may see it as a way to magically turn them into a productive person.

We live in a culture consumed with the idea of productivity. All you need to do is look at the App Store of your choice and you'll find hundreds upon hundreds of 'productivity apps': to-do lists, project management apps, calendars, note taking apps, writing apps, automation apps, apps that integrate reminders and calendars, etc.

The interesting part is how similar many of these apps are. Most reminder/to-do list apps have the same basic ingredients: list(s), due dates, and the ability to repeat to-do items. Where these apps diverge is in the perifery: location based reminders, integration with a calendar app, different gestures for archiving or deleting items from your list and so on.

A lot of these apps are solid, well built pieces of software made by well-intentioned people. The unfortunate part is that people bounce from system to system looking for the silver bullet, the app that is going to transform them into a more productive person.

As someone who has tried out an embarrassing amount of these apps I can say that none of them has solved the fundamental problem of being productive: the human.

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All of these apps and systems and workflows and mantras can't actually get things done for you. The responsibility for being productive lies solely on the human. We can't download five apps and expect to go from couch potato to CEO in a day…or a year.

Certainly apps and systems can help, but they are only there to help, not to solve. I am a forgetful person, so I use Apple's Reminders app to help me remember important things I need to do. The app doesn't make me do them, or even do them for me. It only works if I tell it to. You see, I have to choose to want to remember, to care enough to remember, and to follow through when I am reminded to do something.

Productivity boils down to this: the only way to be productive is to actually work. You have to be disciplined and persistent. Everything is vying for your time, it is up to you to decide what is worth your time and effort.

Apps and systems cannot and will not save you from yourself. If you want to become more productive you have to make a choice to do so and followthrough on that choice everyday.