Wednesdays are simplicity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
I was reading an article recently that laid forth a system that was incredibly complicated, using three calendars, two (at my best count) project and task tracking, and two feeder systems. The person was proclaiming how using this electronic system would save tons of time. And perhaps it would. But it was so complicated that I couldn’t follow it.
It left me wondering, where does simplicity play into productivity systems?
To keep track of everything you do does not mean you have to plug into a complicated system or piece of equipment. After all, for hundreds of years, people either kept things in their heads, or wrote it down on paper. So we know that to be productive doesn’t mean you need something more than paper and pencil.
But still, our electronic age has produced lots of improvements. We can track, automatically, how long we have spent on something, as well as keep track and do many more things at once.
But if the system is hampering rather than helping, it needs to be simplified.
Minimizing The Steps
When I get the urge to try something new to boost my productivity (and this happens weekly), I have to look at what I am trying to do, and then ask myself if there is a simpler path.
The fewer the steps, the less likely you will be to forget something. The fewer the steps, the more time you will spend doing the task , rather than doing the system.
In the end, it boils down to a good old cost-benefit analysis. Is the effort you are putting in getting you significant gains? Or is it not getting you big enough results for the effort you are putting in?
Example: I do my weekly planning on paper, and this includes a list of target activities I want to do. I put those targets into Remember the Milk, which also houses my repeating tasks, and tasks generated from email.
Some people would say that this double-entry of writing the target list and then transcribing it into RTM is overly-complicated. But the benefit I get is that my target tasks are now in with my dailies, and I see them all the time keeping them fresh. At the same time, if I look at my paper planner I can see just the targets.
Today’s challenge is for you to take a look at your productivity system. Is it overly complex? Can you simplify any of it?
Photo by Phil Manker