The Five stages of productivity tools

The Five stages of productivity tools:

If you're anything of a productivity geek, you'll no doubt know these stages by heart.

Any time I've ever downloaded something to help me be more productive, it invariably ends up running through these five stages. I've downloaded so many hairbrained ideas on my Palm and Linux machines, that I've lost count of the number of applications I've downloaded and shareware licenses I've purchased only to later delete the application and stick with what I've found works. True, there's the rare application that rises to the top, and transforms how I work, but most of the time these applications don't transform anything of how I work.

So, I present to you the five stages of productivity tools:

  1. Discovery stage: Lessee here... what tool is right for the job? This can be as simple as a search on Google for new Xs to do Ys, or it can be part of an evangelization process from a co-worker or another blog. ("Hey, that would be pretty cool! I've always wanted to do that!).
  2. Toy stage: This is the phase where You're REALLY excited about using the new tool. You live for playing with the new tool, and getting it customized just the way you like it. You wake up in the middle of the night thinking of new ways to make that tool work better. You evangelize this tool to everyone you know. (Hey, where does that sound familiar?) Most of the quality time you'll ever spend with this application is done during this phase.
  3. Work stage: This phase has a double meaning. Either the tool works for you, or you work to make the tool work for you. Either the load is lifted, or the load becomes that much more cumbersome.
  4. Disuse stage: This is where the old applications go to die. If you've made the tool consistently work for you, you won't have to worry about this stage. Congratulations, you can stop here. More times than not, though, the tool doesn't work out. The luster of imagined productivity wanes, and you slowly move away. The tool starts to miss you. You start looking for other tools to replace this tool.
  5. Decommission stage: Time to export the data and regain some memory. Usually this is accompanied after the discovery phase for the next new tool.

Lather, rinse, repeat.