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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.

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    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.

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    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?”

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    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!

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    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.

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

    16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

    The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

    How about a unique spin on things?

    These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

    1. Empty your mind.

    It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

    Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

    Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

    Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

    How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

    2. Keep certain days clear.

    Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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    This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

    3. Prioritize your work.

    Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

    Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

    Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

    How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    4. Chop up your time.

    Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

    5. Have a thinking position.

    Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

    What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

    6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

    To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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    Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

    7. Don’t try to do too much.

    OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

    8. Have a daily action plan.

    Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

    Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

    9. Do your most dreaded project first.

    Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

    10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

    The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

    11. Have a place devoted to work.

    If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

    But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

    Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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    Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

    12. Find your golden hour.

    You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

    Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

    Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

    Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

    13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

    It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

    By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

    Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

    14. Never stop.

    Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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    Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

    There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

    15. Be in tune with your body.

    Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

    16. Try different methods.

    Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

    It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

    Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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