Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
The Get Rich Slowly article “Do the Tools of Personal Finance Actually Work?” has some applicability to productivity, effectiveness and efficiency.
Most of us have a whole lot of techniques for ways to get things done. Roles, goals, next action lists, someday/maybe lists, closed lists, timers, distraction blockers and most-important-tasks are some examples of these. These techniques fill a toolbox, and often times people will bicker about which tool is best.
There are some basics points that should be considered:
Not every tool works for every job
Everything looks like a nail when all you have is a hammer. By expanding our toolboxes, we can decide which is the best tool for a situation. Having a next action list doesn’t help me a bit when I am having trouble getting started on anything. In that case, the (10+2)*5 method works for me.
For some people, GTD straight up works; others prefer Covey or DIT. Or a hybrid. It depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Insisting that one method is best always for everyone is like telling someone to use a hammer on a nut because hammers work great on what you are doing — nailing.
Some tools become less useful over time
People change, our lives change, and our tools should change. I look back at the things I have tried, and many things have fallen by the wayside: Sandy, Remember the Milk, and EWizmo have all passed on. They just weren’t useful anymore. Since being laid off, I have also given up my strict GTD system for work, since I don’t need it.
The point is that you shouldn’t stick with something if it isn’t giving you value. Expect your system to evolve.
You cannot be an expert with every tool
Don’t believe that every technique you run across will be applicable to you. My work used to fit perfectly into an exact GTD system; my home life never has. And learning GTD better didn’t make my home life fit any better, it just lead to frustration as I tried to cram a square peg into a round hole.
You become skilled with a tool by using it
Using a technique and really exploring where it fits and doesn’t fit will give you better ability to adapt it. Using a technique like you think it should be used is like giving a wrench to someone who has only seen a nail. Chances are it will be used like a hammer.
Our toolboxes are just that: a collection of ways to get to the end of the project. Use things as you can, let the “shoulds” and “musts” go, and your tools will serve you well.
Photo by HVargas