Structures and productivity

weird structure

I was listening to a recent podcast with David Allen where he mentioned very interesting element.  Many times we are building a lot very complex structures to support productivity
adding layers of tags, applications etc. In effect we limit ourselves and put more pressure to maintain this system. It becomes a drag. Whereas the opposite should be true. A good productivity system should be light and flexible allowing to fit you into changing events and requirements. You can listen to full episode here.

Continuing with this thought focus on keeping your system just right and fit for purpose.

When you have them, it’s very easy to spend few hours organizing everything in your system. Adding locations, tags, links. Making sure everything is clearly laid out. But is such approach sustainable on daily basis? Probably not.

When you look at how people get organized more often than not everything they have is halfway done. They had some free time, so they decided to organise something they mean to do a long time ago. They put a very nice looking structure of A-Z folders, marked with different colours and labels. After a while only half of the documents are done this way, the demands of the daily work took over and there is no longer any time to maintain this structure.
The same will happen with tasks. You can go full on with application like Omnifocus or Thinkingrock  or Remember the Milk and fill every possible text box, add connections, notes and links, then you can dice and slice actions, projects the way you want.

After initial hurray stage this structure weighs you down and becomes a drag. It becomes apparent that filling all the boxes and putting all the tags and folders is too time consuming. It can’t be sustained in normal day when things are flying at the speed of light.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why a short list of daily tasks is so effective. It’s simple, easy, flexible and becomes great reference point for your progress throughout the day.

To conclude, tools you use should support enough to let you maintain the control of the day yet they should be light easy to use so that they don’t become a drag.

Photo by: Aislinn Ritchie

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