Productivity Boost From NOT Improving Your Productivity System

A productivity system helps us capture, organize, and plan things to do. Whether we use an electronic or paper-based system, we want it to be fast, seamless, and very easy to use. So we seek out the best techniques and tools to craft our system.

But that quest works against our productivity. It wastes our time and distracts us from doing our most productive work.

We may be wasting time. We can always find ways to make our system better. But we can spend way too much time finding, studying, and trying new techniques and systems that promise organizational nirvana. We then fall into the trap of over-tweaking our system instead of getting stuff done.

We’re missing the big productivity win. The more we focus on having the perfect system, the more likely we will become great at filling it with tasks but distracted from the biggest productivity win. This win is something that only we–not our system–can do: choosing what’s best to work on.  To do this well, we rely our systems but control the inputs and outputs. For the inputs, we decipher what each email, request, and idea that crosses our path means to us. For the outputs, we choose which things are best to work on now, which we should do later or delegate, and which we should trash. We mostly work these inputs and outputs during dedicated, relaxed daily and weekly planning sessions.

Put a moratorium on tweaks to (or wholesale swaps of) your system. Instead, build the habit of daily and weekly review sessions. Get good at pruning the inputs and choosing what’s best (most important, exciting, fulfilling) to work on next.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit:
Charles D P Miller

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