For anyone following along with the Techie Scheky series1, you’re probably thinking the same thing; “Mike uses a lot of tools… perhaps too many.” You are right. It’s a lot. But here is the thing: my system for getting things done might sound complex, but in practice it is exceptionally easy to use… so easy, in fact, that I hardly know it is there anymore.
Productivity vs. Productivity Porn
Finding the balance between the tools and the output can be a challenge. Those of us who start fiddling with personal productivity systems can quickly get lost in productivity porn2. The trick is to find the tools that get out of your way, the ones that empower you to actually accomplish your goals3.
Avoid Swiss Army Knife Apps
I know that I’ve said this before, but get rid of anything that tries to do everything. It may seem counter intuitive, I mean why wouldn’t you want to find those super-apps that do everything? Put simply, apps that do everything feel complex4. They are so often bloated and difficult to figure out that you never get around to reaping the benefits of all of these features. When you find apps that do one thing well, they tend to disappear into your workflows. The apps that “do everything” more often than not will keep you from doing anything at all5.
Are you actually doing more?
Sure there are complex ways to measure your productivity, even elegant ones like Rescue Time, but the nothing compares to common sense. Is your output increasing? Do you feel like things are moving faster? Are you finding flow? Do you feel even a little more control over your life? It’s easy to fool ourselves, but look at your desk… is it any cleaner? That’s a little bit harder to measure. It’s easy to lie to yourself; believe me, I’m an expert at it. But when you set goals and know what needs to get done to achieve them, it actually becomes quite easy to know how far you’ve gotten (or how far you haven’t). More often than not, the best tool for measuring your effectiveness is a good look in the mirror and an honest chat with yourself.
Stop making things so complicated. Better yet, look at how complicated things already are and start simplifying. All this crap I’m talking about over at Techie Scheky may feel like a lot, but I will tell you one thing, I’m getting a hell of a lot more done, and a hell of a lot faster. What works for me may not work for you, but something will… If you feel like you’ve lost control of your life, take a good hard look at the mess and figure out what you can throw away. If you’re really honest with yourself and you’re willing to let go of all of that complexity that is holding you back, I think you’ll be surprised by just how much easier things can become.
If you need a place to start, here are five geeky tips inspired from everything I’ve read and tried that have finally helped me to get stuff done. I hope they help!
- Who isn’t a fellow Mac Geek [↩]
- It’s a thing, look it up… [↩]
- Oh yeah and taking the time to figure out what those goals actually are might help as well… [↩]
- Microsoft Word, anyone? Hell, Microsoft anything… [↩]
- Except for Launch Bar. What a holy mixture of robust yet simple! More on this astounding little app in next week’s Techie Scheky! [↩]