This week we’ll talk about evaluating our personal productivity system to make sure it’s still working for us.
We as individuals change over time and so do our productivity needs
Recently we talked about steps to take as we transition into the new school year or new season. One other thing we can do as we’re making that transition into fall (for those of us in the northern hemisphere) is to take a big-picture look at our personal productivity system, evaluating how it’s working for us and making adjustments where it makes sense.
We can, of course, do this at any time of the year, but the transition from the more casual days of summer to the sometimes more structured season when the school year begins seems like a natural time to look at this.
What is a productivity system?
Simply put, it's everything we use to manage our lives. One definition of it:
“a productivity system is a deliberate mix of productivity methods, guidelines, and processes to help you get things done without chaos, confusion, or procrastination. Productivity systems include the methodologies and time management tools you use to become more efficient.”
I like this definition because it highlights the fact that it’s a big-picture kind of thing: all the methods, processes, tools, and techniques that make up our unique approach to ordering our individual lives.
What is its purpose?
To help you live the life you want to live--while getting the things done that you want and need to do. As one writer puts it,
“the purpose of any productivity system is to help you become more productive, not operate as a fancy strategy that is cool to talk about but yields no results.”
The focus shouldn’t be on creating or maintaining the system, but on the system working for you. Another writer points out that “The right productivity system for you is one that fits well with your work style, responsibilities, habits, and personality. It doesn't create more work for you and instead helps you do your best work in the most efficient manner.”
The results of a good productivity system include more effective management of your projects, tasks, due dates, goals, and information that’s important to you, allowing you to live your life in the way you want to. A good system is efficient and flexible, adapting as your life and priorities change.
Components of a productivity system
* Project/task manager--keeping track of all the stuff we need and want to do for our work, personal life, family life, etc., and making sure it gets done.
* Calendar--primarily for keeping track of time-based appointments, but can also be used in conjunction with our project/task manager to allocate time to specific tasks or types of tasks.
* Information repository--this is where we keep track of the bits of information we need access to that’s not a task or an appointment. This includes contacts (names, phone numbers, addresses, email, etc.) and reference material relevant to our job, our family commitments, and personal interests.
* Approaches and techniques