Advertising
Advertising

Why a Great Pen Makes All the Difference

Why a Great Pen Makes All the Difference

3180012533_c8524d0e3e

    When I first got into the whole “systematic productivity” thing, I did a ton of reading on the subject. One of the things I kept coming across was people discussing which notebook and which pen they used in their own systems. I would read these, all holier-than-thou, and think something to the effect of, “a pen is a pen. Is a pen. Is a pen. Who cares?”

    Advertising

    I was WRONG. Over the last few years, and particularly in the last few months, I’ve started to realize that the particular pen you use, or any given tool, really does make all the difference, and has a huge effect on how you feel about what you’re doing, and how well it gets done.

    We’ve all got our tools. We use computers, cars, coffee makers, and all manner of other tools to help us through just about every aspect of our day. For me, personally, the tools I see most are my computer, my iPod Touch, and my cell phone. Whatever they may be for you, think about this: how much do you enjoy your tools?

    Advertising

    That changes everything. If you’ve got a tool or a system you genuinely like using, whether it’s for the fun of crossing things off lists, or the joy of moving the slider on the iPod Touch (that one might just be me…), it makes using it a whole lot easier.

    The converse is also true. For instance, my cell phone currently has an enormous scratch on its screen, that makes it really hard to see well in the light. This minor annoyance has made me far less likely to want to use my cell phone, and I’m more reticent to pull it out to enter information, because it’s just more difficult to use.

    Advertising

    As we develop productivity systems or systems for getting things done, we often overlook the things we like for the things we find most useful. Here’s the catch, though: if we don’t like it, we won’t use it.

    This applies to Web applications, and technology in general, arguably more than anything else. For almost anything you could want to do on the Web, there are multiple options, each with its own quirks and differences. We often find and use the one others use, or think is the best one. Instead, use the one you actually want to use, and then find a way to make it work in your system. If it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work.

    Advertising

    Systems only work when we can trust them not to forget something, and can trust that we’ll see what we need to see, when we need to see it. That’s only going to happen when we want to use our system. That’s why I stopped using paper-based productivity systems – they weren’t any fun. I like typing, I like logging in, I like seeing the Remember the Milk cow every time I log on.

    But that’s just me.  A system you like and want to use is far better than a perfect, up-to-code system that sits dormant because it’s boring and you have no desire to use it. Online or off, trust applications you can’t help but use, because they’re just too much fun – they’re the ones you’ll come back to.

    What do you think? How do you find systems and tools you want to use? What are they?

    Photo: sansanparrots

    More by this author

    9 Lists To Keep Updated, and Keep Handy In Defense of Multi-Tasking 10 Ways To Be Productive in 10 Minutes 5 Ways to Make Sure You’re Asking Well Can’t-Miss Marketing: Just Ask

    Trending in Productivity

    1 The Careful Art of Delegation 2 Don’t Think You’re a Creative Person? You Can Definitely Change That 3 How to Learn Twice as Fast? Get More Feedback 4 Can’t Focus? Why You’ve Been Doing It Wrong and How to Focus Better 5 How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Published on September 25, 2018

    The Careful Art of Delegation

    The Careful Art of Delegation

    Do you find yourself constantly feeling busy? Or, maybe you feel like you have too much on your plate? Perhaps you have a to-do list with no end in sight, or many responsibilities to juggle on a daily basis at work. When you get home, you have household responsibilities to take care of, too, and it just seems like you never have much time for a breather.

    Being busy is good, it’s better than not having anything to do and letting time slip away. But, what many people don’t realize is, being busy doesn’t always mean you’re being productive. The more time you take to complete something does not equal to more success. Many people end up falling into this trap as they pack their day with tasks and errands that may sometimes produce little outcome or output for the effort that they’ve put in.

    For example, let’s say that your washing machine at home broke down and you need to fix it. Instead of calling the handyman to come, your husband decides he’s going to fix the machine. He ends up spending half a day figuring out the machine, and does eventually fix it. He did however have to make a trip to the tool shop to buy some extra tools and parts for the machine. Now, if you had called the handy man, it would probably have taken the handyman much less time, and he would have all the necessary tools and parts already, because that is his job. So in this instance, was your husband’s time and effort worth it? Oh, and because he took half the day fixing the machine, you now had to take over his duties of dropping the kids off at soccer and swim practice.

    We Need Not Be That Busy

    I hope you would agree, that it would have been ideal to delegate this task to the handyman. That would have saved you time and effort, so that you and your husband could focus on doing other things that were more important to you, like being there for your kids or spending time with each other. This is just one example of how we often impose busyness on ourselves without us even realizing it.

    But, I’m going to show you just how you can gain quality time from external sources. Whatever big goals or ambitions that you may have, it’s normal for them to involve a lot more of your time than you first expect. I’m talking about things like starting a new business, changing careers, perhaps even moving to a new city. New challenges often involve things that are outside of our experience and expertise, so covering all the bases ourselves is sometimes not feasible as it takes too much time to learn and do everything.

    Advertising

    You Are Just One Person

    At the end of the day, you are just one person, and you have a limited amount of time. So, you have to do things that are meaningful to you. While an overall goal may be meaningful, not all of the milestones needed to get there may be meaningful. Because we all have our strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, not every task will be enjoyable or all fun & games. Some simply require pure willpower and discipline to grind through. And that is where delegation comes in.

    What is Delegation?

    You may hear this term a lot in the business or corporate world; it’s an effective way for managers to distribute (or sometimes avoid!) work. But, that’s not what I’m referring to. Instead, delegation means leveraging time from an outside source to give you opportunities to increase your quality time. By outside source, we simply mean that it’s not your own time that you’re spending.

    What Should You Delegate?

    To delegate effectively, it has to be done with deliberate intention. So the aim of delegation is to create more quality time for yourself. There are 3 types of tasks that you should generally delegate, called the Delegation Triangle.

    The first are tasks you don’t enjoy doing. These are things that you know how to do, but don’t enjoy. Second, are tasks you shouldn’t do. These are things you know how to do and may even enjoy, but may not be the best use of your time. Third, are tasks you can’t do. These are things that need doing, but you don’t have the skills or expertise to follow through with them at this moment.

    Have a look through your daily tasks and responsibilities, and see if you can fit them under these 3 categories.

    Advertising

    Pitfalls of Delegation

    Using the Delegation Triangle, you can decide which tasks are worth delegating. In theory, it might look easy to sort actions at first glance; but often, it’s actually harder than you think! 

    One such example, is diverting time on tasks you shouldn’t do. Let’s go back to the washing machine example. Your husband decides to fix it on his own instead of simply getting an expert to fix it. Why? Because it’s probably a challenge he enjoys, and it’s an accomplishment that would bring him satisfaction. However, if the value of the task is too low, you really ought to delegate it to others.

    Sometimes, when you have a larger goal in mind, you might have to sacrifice some actions in return for making progress. Always think about the bigger picture! One thing that can help you avoid this pitfall is to keep your deadlines in mind whenever you set milestones for a project or task.

    Deadlines are a commitment to yourself, and every bit of time is precious. So if an activity you’re focusing on is taking time away from progress towards your goal, it may be time to let go of it for now. You can always decide to pick it up again later.

    Then there’s the other extreme of delegation. And that’s when you start delegating everything you dislike doing to external sources.Sometimes it’s tempting to abuse delegation and get carried away outsourcing everything on your “don’t like doing” list.

    Advertising

    Some people are too picky on what they’re going to do. But sometimes, if you don’t like doing so but you’re the only one who can do it, you still need to finish the job. At the end of the day, it does take your own hard work and effort to achieve the success you want.

    So if you find that you’re constantly running into this problem of over delegating, then it may be time to re-evaluate your motivation, or reason for doing whatever it is that you’re doing.

    Ask yourself, “Is this task contributing towards a meaningful objective that I want to achieve?” and “what kind of progress do I make each time I carry out the task myself?” If the task is both meaningful and creates progress, then the next step is to ask yourself questions that can help you create actions.

    What obstacles are causing you to avoid this task? Is it because of low confidence in your ability? Do you think someone else can do a better job? Is it your level of focus? Or is there an alternative action you can take that can produce the same results?

    Take Action Now

    Take a look at your current tasks or to-do’s that you have planned this week. Which tasks are possible candidates that fall under the Delegation Triangle? Are there any that fall under the pitfalls mentioned above? Which tasks can you immediately identify that should be delegated out right now?

    Advertising

    I hope this exercise helps declutter your tasks and responsibilities a little and allows you to see how much more time you can be saving for more important things. But, this is not the end of delegation. After you’ve sorted out the tasks that can be delegated, the next step is to determine who it should be delegated to. Besides people like your co workers, or spouse/family members, did you know that there is a whole delegating industry out there?

    If you’re keen to learn more about this delegating industry, and find out how you can decide who’s the best fit to do your delegated tasks, subscribe to our newsletter today. We will help you discover many more skills that will boost your productivity by leaps and bounds!

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Read Next