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The only way to increase productivity is by educating ourselves about it.
If you think that all it takes is a good try; one boost and you’re done, you’re in for a surprise. Without educating yourself about Productivity (or at least making it a part-time hobby), you’re laying the foundation for future frustration and disappointment.
Most people we speak to associate productivity with willpower. Let me say clearly, although willpower may give you the illusion that you’ve done some good, your willpower won’t count for much in the long run.
Willpower is good when you know what you’re doing. It helps you to stay on the intended path for longer periods. However without a roadmap, a clear detailed instructive roadmap, you’ll get winded pretty fast. So why do we jump head-on into doing things without reading the manual first?
Good question, some think it’s the right thing to do; trusting an impulsive instinct to guide them with enthusiastic fever until they’ll reach their target. Of course that’s not going to happen. Increased productivity is a result of a long journey which tests you over and over again until you’re able to ace the test and its variations.
No need to reinvent the wheel here. Other people make it their life’s work to discover what makes us tick in order to supply us with productivity methods, tips, and productivity apps…So why not use that knowledge?
If you want to get more done, you only need to do one thing: LEARN. You don’t need to be better than others doing so; you just need to be better than your ‘yesterday-self’.
So, let us begin!
1# Review and Select a Productivity Method
The first step towards increasing your productivity is learning about the various productivity methods that are out there. Remember, you are not Newton discovering the laws of gravity; many before have struggled with personal productivity. Let’s learn from them. I like to think that the method that suites my style best is the method that deals with a specific pain I have; a method that solves a specific problem by breaking it to its bare parts and fixing them one by one.
If you’re problem is organizing your work and plans, go for GTD (Getting things done)
GTD is the ultimate organizational system, helping you both to plan for the short and long run. The pain that GTD solves is the pain most knowledge workers today face: dealing with the amount of data we get on a daily basis, processing, organizing and selecting what to do next. It’s highly effective in doing so and it’s my method of choice.
If your problem is managing your time, go for the Pomodoro technique
There’s no time management program running today in our schools. As a result, a lot of students finish high school (and sometimes even college) without this basic real world survival tool. If you don’t know how to manage time properly then you won’t even reach the point in which you’ll be able to begin organizing yourself. The Pomodoro Technique is a quick and easy way to learn the basics of time management. It’s an excellent platform to develop additional skills that will help you increase your productivity.
If you’re have ADHD like me, you can learn how to express workflows with a mind map
A mind map allows you to display information in a graphical way, outlining the various actions and milestones. Mind mapping, due to its visual nature, is a well suited method for people who have problems with dry info (i.e. only text). It works wonders with ADHD’rs who need that extra stimulus of a visual demonstration of their goal and target.
2# Practice & Make it Your Own
Make it your own. As pick your productivity method, don’t be afraid to pick and choose the elements that make sense to you. It’s great to try all elements of a method but if you feel something is not working for you, do not force it. You’d be surprised how many different ways to GTD you’ll find in a group of people claiming be GTD’rs. And there is nothing wrong with that! On the contrary, if you take the time to practice and try various elements of productivity methods and settle on your own variation – that’s what it’s all about. Don’t let anybody tell you what you are doing is wrong, as long as you are constantly evaluating your method, trying to streamline it even more. Part of the daily and weekly practice is an introspective review of what’s working and more importantly, what’s not working so you can improve.
3# Work with the right tool for you
It’s easy to get lost with the wide verity of tools out there. They come in all sizes and shapes. Bouncing between tools will push you further away from your goal. That’s why you need to find the tool that fits you best and master it. Remember, the best productivity method without a supporting tool is bound to fail and lead to frustration.
Choosing the right tool is a matter of solving a pain… First, let’s start by identifying that pain.
Do you want a tool that will help you organize? Do you need a tool that will help you keep track of those tasks that you seem to miss? Do you need a time management tool? That’s an answer you need to provide.
Make sure to pick a tool that can help with the entire productivity method. You do not want to cobble together a platform from 5 or 6 different productivity apps. That can lead to more frustration than it’s worth. Your tools should help you manage your day-to-day, you don’t want to start managing your tool.
Craig Jarrow wrote this excellent post about how to choose the tool that is right for you.
4# Educate yourselves daily
There’s a lot to productivity besides the above mentioned methods and tools. Understanding how our brain works in certain conditions and tracking the latest and greatest in productivity requires a bit of extracurricular activities.
Make sure that you track the latest research and understand what makes you tic. Magazines like lifeacker.com, Lifehack.org and even IQTELL’s Productivity blog can help you track the latest trends and studies conducted in the productivity field.
5# Join a community of likeminded people
There are a lot of likeminded people out there that can support your quest for productivity knowledge. You’ll find excellent advice and personal tutorage in communities like:
- The Google plus GTD group
- Follow the GTD Facebook group page.
- There’s also the Yahoo GTD Group
- And the Official GTD group on Linkedin
So take advantage of these resources, learn how to use them and never stop learning.
Until next time.