Structure and productivity

Structure du pont Corneille

A while ago I was listening to and older podcast with David Allen where he made a very interesting observation. Very often we are building a very complex structures to support our productivity by adding layers of tags, applications et. In effect we tie ourselves up and put more pressure on maintaining this system. It becomes a drag.

Something that’s opposite should be true. A good productivity system should be light and flexible allowing to fit it into changing events and requirements.

Continuing with this thought focus on keeping your system just right and fit for a purpose. 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 meant  to do a long time ago. They put up 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 work took over and there is no longer a time to maintain this structure.
The same will happen with tasks. You can go full on with various application and fill every possible text box, tag, notes and links so then you can dice and slice actions, projects the way you want. After initial hurray stage this structure weighs your down and becomes a drag.

It becomes apparent that filling all the boxes and setting up all the tags and folders is too time consuming. You could do it when you had extra free time but it can’t be sustained in normal day when things are flying at speed of light.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why a short lists of tasks is so effective. It’s simple, easy and serves as a great reference point.

To conclude the tools you use should support you enough to let you maintain the control of the day and be flexible to allow you to adjust to changing priorities. 

photo by zigazou76

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