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#ThanksCOVID: The App Is on the Way

We're excited to share that we’re in the development phases of creating an app that evolves some of our most beloved PDF planners.

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Yes, you read that right. An app is on the way! I feel like I heard a few thousand people collectively sigh and say, “About Time!” and a few others yell, “NOOO, what about the planners!”

I’m excited to share that we’re in the development phases of an app that evolves our current PDF planners and some of our other worksheets into a for-real functional native (smartphone/tablet) and web application.

For many of you, this will be a pretty obvious evolution and next step for us. Over the last decade, we’ve gotten a lot of requests to build an app, and a bunch of folks writing in to ask us if we’ve considered it. And by a lot of requests, I mean enough that I needed to write a post back in 2015 to explain why we hadn’t turned our planners into an app. In that post, I gave three reasons why we held off: 1) app-making is an entirely different business, 2) the productivity app space is a very crowded marketplace, and 3) it may make you worse off.

The first two are still true. I’ve had enough time to think about the third one, see how our planners actually help people over many thousands of use cases, and see how we could create an app that doesn’t just enable us to overwhelm ourselves with a horde of to dos and ideas. As I’ve worked my way through some possibilities on that third reason, the first two have become less weighty.

What’s Changed My Mind about the App

Three other major developments have happened over the last few years that have flipped the switch for me.

The first of those is the creation, launch, and success of Start Finishing — it turns out that all three of those reasons are true for books, as well, and learning to lean into my success pack, our community, and embracing just how much I didn’t know (but could figure out) made me see that I could do the same for the app. If we can write and launch an award-winning, best-selling book in the very crowded productivity and self-help space — and mostly have a blast doing it — then there’s a good chance that we can do the same with an app that we already have a running start with.

The second major development is tech capabilities and how we use technology have evolved so much in the last decade. Then, the apps and the devices we used were clunky, busy, and not as integrated into our daily lives as they are now. Then, I didn’t and couldn’t see where some of my favorite tools were going — to imagine that, alas, they could get worse. We have a general rule that if we can’t make something better or usefully different than our current favorite things, then we’re better off to support our current favorite things. Lastly, we’re tired of being constrained by PDF technology when, in many ways, the planners are a database that keeps the stuff that’s most important to you front and center.

The third major development is simply that we have a big enough platform — including external partners, colleagues, and the ecosystem we’re in — to launch an app. In 2015, that was not the case — and, honestly, it probably wasn’t until 2018 that we were in the place where this was possible. In fact, before I signed the book deal for Start Finishing, Angela and I had a lot of discussions about the strategic inflection point we were in: we could launch the app or launch the book, but at the time, we didn’t have the capabilities to do both. By choosing the book, we backburnered the app.

The hypothesis was that a successful book launch would add enough opportunity surface area such that we could then follow up to grow the planners or app. At the time, we had also banked on an ads-based growth strategy for the planners working. Over the next few years and after a lot of L’s, we learned that the ads-based growth strategy for the planners — or at least how we executed the strategy — didn’t work.

Embracing the Unknowns

There’s a lot I don’t know when it comes to the app. We’re having a road mapping session with our developers in February 2021 where we’ll start fleshing out what’s going into our MVP (minimum viable product). We’ll likely do a crowd-funding campaign in Quarter 2 but will start showing our work as soon as we can. My intent is that there will be a great freemium version of the app, but I don’t know how feasible that’s going to be.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to the Momentum Planner or the Momentum Planner Cards. If you really love these, I’d encourage you to get your hands on at least a year’s worth because we have limited stock and I don’t know if we’re going to do another print run of any of them. They’re now #LimitedEdition in a different way. 🙂

I want to integrate some of our other tools and worksheets, namely the Weekly Block Scheduler and the 12-Week Roadmap, but I’m not yet sure how that’s going to work and when those will roll out.

We’ll integrate the app, our content, and our community to Mighty Networks, but I’m not sure how that’s going to work yet.

At this moment, I don’t know how I’m going to work on the next book, launch an app, and co-create the Academy with our community.

I’m OK with that. Actually, that’s not true: I’m absurdly excited about it all. Even in those moments where I’m scared as hell that it’s not going to work.

It’s refreshing to not know and not to have it figured out, but to know that you can figure it out.

The #ThanksCOVID moment here is that COVID-19 kept us in startup mode long enough for us to get comfortable living here. We were already in startup mode with Start Finishing because, as author and friend Todd Sattersten is so right about, every book is a startup.

Had it not been for COVID-19, we may have quickly fallen back into business as usual. A lot better, a little different, but, fundamentally, we’d have stayed in the safety of the knowns. I’ll take more ownership here: I would’ve kept myself and my team in the safety of the knowns.

But as I’ve been saying about COVID-19 to everyone who’ll listen to me without yelling at me for being tone-deaf, since we already have to create a new reality, we have an opportunity to make it better. We don’t get these “Fork it, let’s do it!” moments often and aren’t typically good about creating them on our own.

We’re choosing to create a new, better reality, which means we have to let go of the old one. Yet another Start Finishing meal we’re eating: to trade up, you have to let go. #WalkTheTalk

One thing I do know, though, is that I can’t lead the amazing team we’ve created to winning as well as they could. There’s something major I’ve let go of so we can trade up to playing our best game.

Before I wrap this one up, though, we’re going to be reaching out to our community for feedback about what you’d love to see in the app and what’s bugging you about the planners now that you’d like us to fix. If you’d like to be a part of building what could be your next favorite app, learn more over on the website.

Originally published at productiveflourishing.com

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