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.
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.
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?”
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!
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.