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The Holy Grail of Productivity

There was an interesting post over at LifeDev (linking to Black Belt Productivity) the other day concerning how trying out new productivity tools can actually make you less productive.

I felt moved to comment on the subject (which you can read here), but I also thought it warranted further exploration.

An excerpt of my comment (if you haven’t clicked through the above link) is:

… It’s like the holy grail of productivity, we think if we find that one tool it’ll change our lives forever when in fact it’s us that really needs to change!

We surround ourselves with gadgets, websites and systems hoping that one of them will fix everything and all of a sudden, bam! We’re the most productive person on the planet.

The problem is though, if you sit and think about it, every new system we introduce needs time to be learned, tweaked and become part of our daily routine. Jumping from one new system to another means that we don’t allow ourselves the time to get to know whether this is the system or just another huge waste of money.

It doesn’t matter whether you use pen & paper, a PDA, SmartPhone or online to-do list; if you don’t have a basic system in place you’ll never be able to get anything done! Not to any noticeable level at least.

There’s never one ultimate way of doing things – despite what people tell you! David Allen’s Getting Things Done isn’t a panacea for productivity (despite its evangelists on the Internet – myself included), in fact I found the base system completely unworkable and ended up heavily tweaking it to fit in with my everyday life.

So, what’s the point of this little rant? Take this new year and work out your base productivity “resolutions”. These might include:

  • Scheduling your weekly review
  • Collating all of your projects
  • Chucking out all of the unworkable systems you’ve used over the years
  • Moving your “Someday/Maybes” off of your projects lists into a separate file
  • Clearing out your inbox(es)
  • Having a nice cup of tea 😉

Whatever you do, make sure your system works for you, not just the person who came up with it. Hack it to pieces, throw away the bits you don’t like, add stuff from other systems. Remember, it’s your system and once you realise that you’ll be well on your way to Camelot er… not there, it’s rather silly. I mean The Holy Grail of Productivity.

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One Response

  • Darren says:

    “Interesting post, and I think I agree 🙂 I have wasted so much time this last year trying to work out systems and trying out each new web 2.0 app. And what is the upshot of this? Like yourself I am heading to a simple notepad (although heavily influence by GTD[thanks for the introduction to that btw]). Technology in the right place is what I think it boils down to, and when it comes to getting organised and being productive the only way forward is to change ourselves and find a system. Roll on 2007 :-)”

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