There is a lot productivity advice ranging from simple bite sized tips and tricks to book outlining fully fledged methodologies. I’ve been wondering what it takes to create a good productivity and organisation system regardless if it’s a formal approach like GTD or Autofocus or simply a set of different practices picked up along the way.
What are the basics?
What are the component of individual and team productivity? One might say that Getting Things Done methodology solves it all but to me this is a workflow that requires two more elements to be complete. Others might say that good task mamanger will do but what good is it if you only dump your to do items.
I think any productivity system, approach you decide to follow requires three elements: Thinking, Tools, Workflow.
It’s easy to jump into action and complete as many tasks as possible. Unfortunately this doesn’t mean we get where we want.
We need time to analyze and plan our goals, projects and actions. Then we can start moving into the direction we want.
Thinking and planning is difficult as it takes time and effort. It doesn’t seem like doing and therefore is often dismissed. Yet without even a simple plan we are walking blind and most likely “lean the ladder against a wrong wall”
Design your day, week, month, year in such way that you have time to think, plan, draft.
You need tools to help you organise your thinking, your actions and projects.
I’m big believer in GTD approach where you divide stuff into different buckets like calendar items, project list, action list, someday maybe etc so I’m using tools that help me support this.
To keep clean (mentally) you need to capture ideas, thoughts. It’s better to have a tool/place where you can gather them and review every once in a while.
Keeping track of commitments was easy fifty years ago but now the complexity or our lives has changed dramatically. There is more information crossing our way that it was in our grandparents time.
Finding the right tools to keep organised is not always easy. Some prefer Swiss army knife approach and look for all in one organisation tool. Others like to have special programs for special tasks. Whatever your choice may be, make sure that your tool helps you get things done.
What’s the workflow? Essentially it’s a set of steps which are necessary to make sure you are organised and clear. It helps you move from thinking to the doing phase in an orderly fashion.
GTD provides excellent example of workflow based system, first there is capture, then processing, organisation, review and finally the do.
You may prefer other models, yet you most likely you have something, even if it’s very informal.
Why workflow is necessary? Mainly because it helps organise work and life. It removes randomness and helps to create paths that can be followed. A workflow also relieves brain from constant thinking about what’s next. Instead you can focus on other things.
Lastly workflow allows you to leverage tools and thinking into a single element into a single piece that helps you get things done.