Sep 8, 2008

- Productivity Tip #1

Your productivity system is an integral part of your workflow. Gone are the days of having a handful of simple tasks that you could keep in your head. Nowadays, work is multifaceted, complicated and even overwhelming. That’s why you need a reliable system to get it all out of your head and get it organized. It can be as simple as scribbling down a to-do list for those with a small workload, to having a complex computer-based system encompassing several tools. Contrary to the general consensus, when it really matters there are only two rules you need to follow for getting a system that won’t let you down.
Firstly, while it seems like many people would rather spend all their time tweaking and playing around with their latest system, when it really matters we just want to be able to get stuff done quickly. We don’t want to spend several minutes (yes, even that small a timescale matters here) working through a system to get to our list of projects or tick a task off as complete. As David Allen says, if it takes more than a couple of seconds to do something you simply won’t do it.
Secondly, the system must not have more features or complications than it needs. If you don’t need that fancy little feature on your productivity software than it’s merely bloat. Most likely you will feel compelled to use it because it’s there, and even if you resist the temptation it’s still a distraction. I find Moleskines are a good example of this. If the sheer quality of them helps your productivity then that’s great, but it certainly doesn’t help me. The quality and expense gets in the way. To be fully productive I need to be able to scribble, doodle and rip pages out as I please. I don’t want to feel guilty for desecrating a Moleskine so a cheap notepad that won’t fall apart is ideal for my needs.
Your system needs to be as painless and intuitive as possible. It should enable you to be productive, rather than being an obstacle. My weekly planner is a good example of this. Though flicking through a few pages to get to what I want was quick, it was even quicker to have all that information condensed onto one page.

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