Productive app review: Gives you a nudge to live a better life

Whether it’s spending 20 minutes forward planning with your team or taking a 2-kilometre walk after work each day, Productive is a sleekly designed app that lets you track the habits you want to cultivate.

You then assign them a time of day and a frequency with which you’d like to carry them out, and tick them off as they’re achieved.

The app aims to help you form good habits in a couple of ways: firstly, you can set timed reminders to nudge you into action, and secondly, you have a record of how well you’ve done, which keeps you feeling accountable.

The free version lets you track five habits and offers basic stats on your performance, such as looking back at a calendar to see how your willpower has ebbed and flowed while the £2.99 (Dh15) upgrade comes with unlimited habits, more data and a few other minor perks.

There are many products out there that are more powerful, but Productive’s strength is that it’s intuitive to use and doesn’t overwhelm you with information. Once you’ve entered a few goals, either by selecting from themed menus (fitness, efficiency, social and so on) or by creating your own from scratch, you can focus simply on the task assigned for that segment of the day, rather than looking at a dispiritingly long to-do list. The problem the app is looking to solve is a lack of willpower, so it’s smart to make it as frictionless as possible.

The app was launched by a solo developer, Melbourne-based Jaidev Soin, in 2015. He is a big fan of life-enhancing software and previously created Balanced, which reminds you to do things that make you happy.

Because Productive was built by one guy, not a team, it’s simple both by design and out of necessity: it’s only available for Apple mobile devices, you can’t delegate tasks to a spouse or workmate, and there’s no option to export data on your habits to Excel for further analysis.

For these reasons, hardcore productivity geeks might want a more robust app, or to use Productive alongside GTD software such as Omnifocus or Todoist. For people who don’t have time to get to grips with a complex system or pore over statistics, however, Productive will act as an angel on your shoulder, quietly prodding you now and then to live a better life.


Jaidev Soin, founder of Productive, tells Jessica Holland more about the app:

How did Productive come about?

For a long time, app development was just a hobby for me. Productive was different though, and I quit my job so that I could spend six months developing it full time — a big risk, but it absolutely paid off. In the nine months since launch it’s had 380,000 downloads, and it’s now earned enough revenue to pay my full-time wage, plus more than make up for the time I spent developing it.

What do you track in your everyday life?

It changes over time. Once a habit is internalised, I take it out of my list in Productive. Some habits never seem to properly internalise themselves though, like flossing, so they stay in there. Right now my list is: Clear my inbox; use Pomodoro timer while working; no social media while working; floss; practice guitar in work breaks.

If we quantify and track everything we do, aren’t we losing out on spontaneity and serendipity?

For my work, and my household chores, I want to have a good routine. But for at least a few weekday evenings and my weekends, I leave them free so I can do whatever I want. I also go through periods where I don’t use Productive at all. If I feel that my routine is well on track, I’ll stop using the app for a while, and just enjoy life as it comes. But eventually my life will become too undisciplined again, so I’ll get back into using Productive again and get back on track. It’s all about balance really.

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