I Committed a Mainstream Productivity Mistake for 3 Years

If you’re a productivity junkie like me, you must have heard of multiple productivity apps available on various platforms. For the past few years, I have tried and tested almost every mainstream cross-platform productivity application. From the likes of the note-taking king “Evernote” to the project management maestro “Trello”, I have settled for a few that integrate best into my workflow and complement each other with brilliant features. But that is still not enough. Even though I probably created the most suitable “Getting Things Done” System a.k.a “GTD” for my workflow, I have always felt uncomfortable and hesitant while working with them.

SOMETHINGS WERE WRONG. AND WHY?

1. I was using more apps than I actually needed. Probably so are you.

Earlier, I was using a blend of more than 6 productivity tools. My work wasn’t as complex as my system was. This made me a lot less productive and drove my attention away from what actually needed to be done. My phone had all the mainstream productivity applications.

2. I had to spend more time organising and integrating those apps.

Having multiple productivity applications simply mean you’ll find yourself spending more time setting them up and maintaining them (that’s the real problem). It even leads to the repetition of steps most of the time sometimes makes the process redundant. I used to spend my creative time maintaining the tools rather than working on the actual thing. 

3. It was fun at the start but tiring later on. 

When I started out with all these fascinating applications, it was really fun. It was even better than hours of binge-watching. But that did not last long. Soon enough I got bored and figured out it was highly tiresome and most of the things I was doing were wasteful. After this realisation, I stopped maintaining a couple of applications. This hindered my workflow. Things started going haywire. Eventually, it all negatively affected my productivity.

4. It made me busier and less productive

I spend so much time working (on these apps and tools) that I used to be burned up when the real work was to be done. I wasted all my creative energy and the time I could have allocated on something much more valuable. Instead of reading the book, I was making the to-do list writing the chapters I needed to read and when. 

WHAT’S THE ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION? 

Fortunately, I figured out how stupid I was being at an early stage. It sure is fun to play around with all the tools out there. But it all comes down to few.

“It’s easy to forget that tools can only support your workflow. They are not your work themselves.”

It is important to define the term essential before creating your GTD system. As a productivity junkie, it is your responsibility to identify the essential tools and use only those, extravagantly.

3 QUESTIONS TO ASK…

Ask yourself 3 questions before adding another tool into your workflow. Whenever you find out a new tool with a few features you like, check the following first. These questions will help you to eliminate any extra apps you’re using. Also, you can eliminate the idea of bringing in new productivity tools (in case you don’t really need them).

  1. Can I do this with the tools I already use? Eliminate if YES.
  2. Can I work effectively without this feature? Eliminate if YES.
  3. Does it speed up my workflow significantly? Eliminate if NO.

FINAL NOTE

“The best approach towards productivity is approaching it like a minimalist.”

Today, I still use a few tools, but with time I have minimised the number. I still try to figure out ways to eliminate the tools and apps. I’m not saying that I have completely stopped using new tools. It is always ideal to experiment with new processes. What’s even more important is to focus on the actual work and not get caught up with the non-essentials. Whenever I start using a new application, I give it some time. If the app adds to my productivity, I replace the old apps with the new ones. I don’t recommend doing this frequently as it takes up a lot of time and efforts itself.

There are tons of productivity apps to choose from. Evernote, Keep, Trello, Asana, GCal, Todoist, Notion etc. You don’t need them all. Just a few. Identify those essential tools and work extravagantly with them.

Cheers!

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Clifford Lawrence
Hi, My name is Clifford. I’m documenting my journey towards betterment. I write about personal growth and productivity.