Productivity #4: Systems and Tools
You can think of Productivity in one of 4 ways: Personal, team, systems, and tools.We will examine each of them in this blog, but I am primarily interested in improving your personal productivity using tools to implement your personal systems.
1. Productivity Systems
Webster defines a system as “a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole.” To me, a system is a process that has many steps you repeat repeatedly. Some examples are your morning routines, your evening routines, a weekly review, a monthly review, or goal setting. Each of these things has in common that they contain over one step and we repeat them. We all have them or need them so we can make sure nothing gets forgotten.
But without systems, tools will not do you any good. Tools will only help if you have a system that you want the computer to help you make it operate more smoothly and with less friction.
Here are some examples of popular systems.
“Getting things Done,” by David Allen
The Pomodoro Techniques – a way to manage your work during your day.
The Eisenhower Matrix- a way to help you prioritize your work.
The Twelve Week Year- a system to create urgency in getting things done.
SMART Goals – a way to improve your goal setting.
Kanban: a way to organize and execute your projects.
2. Productivity with Teams
A team is a group of people that someone is managing or assigning work to. They are sharing systems. An example of this is a product development team. The team leader assigns tasks and you have to keep track of how all of them are doing on a daily or weekly basis so you can report to your manager or boss. This team management and remote employee work management will become much more important as companies redefine work in the post-pandemic era. Keeping everyone up to date on all the information, meetings, status, and reference works can be an enormous task.
3. Personal Productivity
Personal productivity relates to what I need to keep track of tasks and produce results. It can be as simple as a calendar listing where I am supposed to be and when or much more complex if you have responsibilities in multiple areas of your life: Church, Volunteer work, a job, and a family. All these responsibilities put demands on your time, create activities that you need to keep track of and overlapping schedules that create conflicts every day. It is a lot to keep track of. You can solve this management avalanche by using several tools or one general tool. It depends on your own personality.
For example, if you only have a list of things to do and a calendar to keep track of appointments, you can do this with a calendar tool and a to-do list tool. Even if your life is more complicated than just these two things and you want to can keep track of everything in one place, you can get by with two tools.
However, if you want to keep track of everything in one place, you need a general-purpose tool like Notion (http://notion.so) that can start small and grow to meet all your needs. Notion can be as simple as a tool to to keep track of Projects and tasks, a calendar, but it can grow into a place to keep track of your whole life- book lists, contacts, tasks, goals, clients, teams, etc. The important point with Notion is that you start small and let it grow with your needs.
4. Personal Productivity Tools
Here is a brief list of some tools that you can use to help you be more productive.
a. Evernote for Note taking http://Evernote.com
b. Zoom for online meetings http://zoom.us
c.Todoist for handling to do lists http://todoist.com
d. Instapapapeer http://instapaper.com and Pocket https://getpocket.com are read-later apps
e.Mindfulness for meditation- numerous apps are available, one is https://www.smilingmind.com.au
f. Mindmapping apps for interconnecting ideas and flowcharts such as Aoya, Mindmeister and numerous others. These are for the person who thinks more visually.
The list is endless for individual apps and it really depends on what you want (to fit into what their app does or to make your own.) The biggest problem is that new apps are created more frequently than you can learn how to use them and they almost always look very interesting. Don’t waste time on the new shiny tools until you master the ones you already have.
General productivity apps include my favorite Notion (http://notion.so).
I will discuss some of these with examples in followup blogs. However, I will mostly discuss Notion for non-programmers, to show you how to get started without getting so overwhelmed by the flexibility that you give up.