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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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    Searching for the Perfect Productivity Tool

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    Last Updated on March 23, 2021

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

    The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

    You need more than time management. You need energy management

    1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

    How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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    I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

    I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

    2. Determine your “peak hours”

    Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

    Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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    My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

    In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

    Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

    3. Block those high-energy hours

    Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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    Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

    If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

    That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

    There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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    Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

    Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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