Advertising
Advertising

Searching for the Perfect Productivity Tool

Searching for the Perfect Productivity Tool

    How many productivity systems, methodologies, strategies or tools have you tried so far? Do you already use something that fits your needs perfectly, or are you just doing OK, still have a feeling that something could be better?

    Many people want to find the perfect productivity system or tool. Having such goal, they consider the “searching phase” as something bad. They think about it as time they have to waste for experimenting.

    Advertising

    If you still haven’t found your Holy Grail of Productivity – don’t worry. No one said you have to. Maybe there’s even no such thing in your case. That’s perfectly fine and doesn’t mean you cannot be more productive than others.

    Searching is not a waste of time

    Searching for the perfect solution may be frustrating (that’s completely normal), yet it doesn’t have to be. Even changing your attitude may work – turning “wasting my time” into “getting experience” can do wonders. Think that all this trying, searching and experimenting is in fact learning about yourself, your habits, what solutions fit you, and which methods are good.

    Of course this is a perfect example of truism. People know these things, but unfortunately they make use of such hints rarely. I always remind others (and want to be reminded as well!) to think in a way that will make them search for opportunities and “lessons learned” instead of wining that something didn’t turn out as expected.

    Advertising

    So how exactly is searching for a productivity system good for you? The keyword here is “routine,” but routine cannot occur when you’re constantly changing something, right?

    Here is how I see it: when you find a way to be productive, like GTD for example, you stick to the system’s or tool’s rules. Even if you are just using a tool, like a calendar or a web app that helps you organize your to-do lists. After we use a tool or process for some time we tend to not have to think about it as much. We eventually become productivity machines and do things automatically.

    This may not sound very tempting when we put it that way, yet it’s what most of us would like to achieve; to become productivity ninjas. But when we fail over and over, trying out new patterns, tools, and strategies, we get frustrated or filled with other negative emotions. And that’s where I ask, “why?”

    Advertising

    We’re all children – new things mean fun

    When I was in school and had to do projects or homework I usually visualized myself sitting at my desk, getting bored and feeling like I’m wasting my youth. It’s hard to concentrate when you’re a kid. But I found a way to cheat; I simply bought something new that I thought would help me.

    In such situations I went to a shop and got myself a new pen, pencil, notebook (not a laptop — we wrote directly on paper then), an eraser, a ruler and a compass (if it was math) or whatever I needed or wanted. All that stuff was cheap, but it was new and selected by me, hence I liked it. And I simply wanted to start using it; I just needed a reason.

    This is the same thing that happens when a child gets a new toy and wants to play with it immediately. Who would waste time to say “thank you” to auntie who bought it? Let’s play NOW!

    Advertising

    How’s this relevant? When you find a new tool or system, you’re excited and you want to use it. After all, you thought it over a few times and even if you’re not sure whether it’s perfect, you’re at least eager to find out. You’re full of optimism and happiness and you have fun organizing your work. Even if the tool isn’t perfect, there’s a good chance that you’re more productive than not using the tool or methodology at all.

    Done is better than perfect

    Of course you’d like the perfect methodology – we all would. But you won’t find it without trying. So, keep at it.

    And in the meantime, just think this: you’re not wasting time if you’re already productive; it’s just that you haven’t found the perfect tool yet. You’re still on the journey to get to it.

    More by this author

    Searching for the Perfect Productivity Tool

    Trending in Productivity

    1 Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed 2 To Automate or not to Automate Your Personal Productivity System 3 How to Increase Brain Power: 10 Simple Ways to Train Your Brain 4 The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It? 5 Forget Learning How to Multitask: Boost Productivity 10X More with Focus

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on October 15, 2019

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why we procrastinate after all

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

    Advertising

    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    So, is procrastination bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

    Advertising

    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How bad procrastination can be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

    Advertising

    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

    Advertising

    8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

    Procrastination, a technical failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next