Today I want to talk about productivity, productivity tools, and how resistance destroys adoption of productivity principals. For me anyway.
Like I wrote about before in my Getting Things Done post, I’ve adopted many of David Allen’s productivity principles. To the letter, no. Do I stick with it at all times, no. But for the most part, it’s instilled a discipline that has build some positive unbreakable momentum.
The only way any productivity tool or principle can work for me is if there is no resistance to it whatsoever. No frustration. No bugs. No workarounds. So the task of being productive doesn’t become unproductive in of itself. The best analogy I can think of is when my father used to say “I’m so organized that now I can’t find anything.” Funny yes, but something to think about seriously to try to avoid.
So for me, anything to help me be more productive has to be quick and easy and it has to serve a real valuable purpose (e.g. save time, reduce efforts, reduce wasted mental energy).
A lot of the productivity tools out there are what other productivity geeks and gurus often refer to as productivity pr0n. Managing down to a microscopic level is counterproductive 99.9% of the time. For me, there is always something that produces resistance. I’ve tried and tested out most of the online to do list apps. All fail for me in that it takes too much work to add, maintain, view, access, etc. They are not ubiquitous. I need things at my fingertips at all time. I need them to work cross-platform. A click or two away. Fast. That’s why for to do lists, at work I use a simple pen and paper (how novel!) and for personal things Google Calendar. I’ll get into how to use Google Calendaras a todo list in another post.
For lists, docs, bookmarks, etc I require access to the files and lists from 1) home computer, 2) G1 Phone, and 3) Work Computer. Therefore any tool, besides my paper work to do list, needs to be web based and be accessible seamlessly cross-platform.
Regarding reference folders. They need to be painfully easy to manage. They fail me whenever I have to think for a split second “where do I file this again?” Paid phone bills go in a phone bill folder, car insurance goes in a car insurance folder, etc. I have one misc folder for anything that I think I might need to keep, but is too random to have it’s own folder. Then it’s safe, secure, and out of sight and out of mind. Duplicate folders need to be avoided too.
I use Google’s offerings for just about everything. Docs, Google Calendar, Bookmarks, GMail, Reader, even Picasa. It helps here that there is one login, so I don’t have to remember x number of usernames and logins (aka resistance).
Until Google launches their GDrive (hopefully it’s not a rumor), I’ll continue to use Box.net to store electronic reference documents. Google docs and speadsheets are ok, but I don’t want to convert every file to their format and then have to reconvert it back to .doc or .xls if I need to use it again. Sorry Google, MS Office will always dominate. As much as I’m not a fan of Vista and a huge fan of Google, I think MS Office can’t be topped anytime soon.
Some other time saving, mind freeing things:
- Receipts go in a receipt box. Purged regularity.
- Almost all services are on auto pay, with a reminder in Google Calendar to check that transactions go through on time and for the right amounts.
- And for bills not on autopay, Google Calendar is set up with every bill due date to make sure bills are always on time.
My productivity tools:
- Google Reader – I’m subscribed to all my favorite blogs, news sites, and industry sites.
- Google Bookmarks – can capture what I may want to read later in addition to saving all my fav places.
- Google Calendar – I’ll never miss a birthday, event, appointment, bill, etc
- GMail – No brainer.
- Box.net – store reference docs.
- File folder – simple structure for easy filing.
- Receipt box – get those annoying paper distractions out of site and out of mind.
- Pen and notepad – ha. Can’t get easier than this.
- Jotter and small pen carried everywhere. Hey if the phone battery dies, I can write stuff down.
- Google Docs – capture and save ideas and someday maybe type lists and personal project plans.
- G1 Phone – Access to these things at all times.
I just thought of a Yogi Berra type mantra for all of this “it has to be easy to make things easier.”