Productivity "Hacks"?

Note: I was going to start this mini-series on productivity the other day until a mean organizing post hijacked my brain and sent me on a rant. However, if you read the rant, you'll notice some similarities in my advice. Mainly: do what works best for you and don't worry about what anyone else says.

This system needs tweaking.  via Creative Commons License

Recently a friend posted an article on productivity advice. The article posed some great ideas. It also said a few things that were just plain ridiculous.

I'm looking at you, Inbox Zero.

We want to be productive, which is what makes these articles so popular. Unfortunately we also tend to get hung up on either 1) reading all of these articles on productivity instead of just doing something (of which I'm guilty too) or 2) trying to force something to work just because it works for someone else. Then if/when the tips don't work we either give up in frustration or mentally berate ourselves. When the simple truth is that it just wasn't the right fit for our needs. Just because something works fantastically for one person doesn't mean it'll be right for you and vice versa.

So how do we accomplish real productivity? It's actually quite simple which is perfect because the more simple and efficient a system it is, the more space it allows you to get real work done.

First, accept that you can't do it all. None of us can. Sucks, but I promise you'll be MUCH better off once you accept and embrace this.

Next, get all of your tasks onto a master to-do list. Look at the list...what can be removed or delegated? Remove or delegate it. Now, prioritize the remaining tasks by deadlines and importance.

Now that we know what needs to be done, create a strategy to help tick things off the list. Maybe it's getting them into your calendar specifically. Maybe it's enlisting the help of an app to get things done. Whatever feels best to you. If something you try doesn't work, tweak it or ditch it and try something else as quickly as you can. Continue trying and tweaking until it's seamless.

Most importantly, don't be afraid to change, tweak or even majorly overhaul as your needs change. What once was seamless won't be after a major life change. Adjust.

Pro tip: one of the biggest initial causes for ending up in major clutter is not adjusting to major life changes. Sometimes it's for the good. Sometimes it's for the less than splendid, but no matter what you must adjust and find your new flow.

My needs and systems change regularly. In the next coming posts I'll show you the evolution of my workspace and the evolution of my to-do management systems over the past few years. If you think it'll work for you, try it. If not, skip it. It's all good.

What's your current favorite thing that's helping you be more productive?