I don’t know about you, but the more I learn about technology and tools for organizing and productivity, the more confused I become. Sometimes I feel like I’m wasting time on the latest tool. Do you have a tendency to download the newest 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!
Choose the Right Tool
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 watch an introductory video to be sure it’s the right system for you!
Deal with Distractions
In my opinion, one of the main problems we all have when trying to accomplish our tasks is distractions. We stop and check email and respond to instant messaging. And then, heaven forbid, we go to social media sites 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 do the important things first. And remember, being more productive is about managing yourself, not wasting time on the latest tool.