I don’t know about you but the more courses I take on technology and tools for organizing and being more productive, the more confused I become. The latest productivity tool may be a complete waste of time. Especially if your tendency is to download one, try it for a few days, and then give up. I’m sure I have mentioned many times over the years that no matter which tool you use, it will not make your To Do list any shorter nor will it do things for you. If only someone could figure that out!
Be very careful to choose a tool that aligns with the way you think and the nature of your work. And make sure it’s as simple as possible. According to Wall Street journalist, Sue Shellenbarger, your productivity tools should help you to do 4 things:
- Collect tasks and projects and put them all in one place
- Decide on the next steps and what you want to accomplish when
- Organize everything into categories
- Make a habit of frequently checking and updating your to do’s and plan
The trick is that you have to choose a tool or two and make them work for you. And remember there is nothing wrong with using an old-fashioned notebook. The trick is it needs to be one notebook with sections for various tasks and plans. Speaking of notebooks, if you are a fan of technology, Evernote is an excellent notebook-based organizing system. With a desktop version plus an app and automatic sync, it really works very well. Before you download any tool, please go to YouTube and watch an introductory video to be sure it’s the right system for you!
In my opinion, one of the main problems we all have when trying to get things done, is getting distracted. We stop and check email, we respond to instant messaging, we look at the latest text message and, heaven forbid, we go to Facebook, Instagram, Linked In or Twitter and get completely lost. If you fall prey to any of these time bandits, try a tool called Rescue Time. It runs in the background on your device and you can set it so that it alerts you if you spend too much time in any of those places. Now that is a helpful tool.
Instead of checking the latest and loudest, teach yourself to check your calendar and to do list several times a day to help keep on track and get the important things done. And remember, being more productive is about managing yourself, not using the latest tool.