How can a lack of commitment impact personal productivity?
Personal productivity has been a mantra for many years, more than any of us care to remember I suspect. We have run a gamut of calendars, PDA’s and now smart phones and websites that combine, manage and remember our obligations. We in essence have every widget, bell and whistle we could possibly need to increase personal productivity.
But, have we become more productive? More importantly, are these apps and gadgets enough or are we missing a critical component?
Commitment: I feel this is the single most important component when working on increasing your personal productivity. Personal productivity focuses on control, how much you have over your tasks versus how much control those tasks have over you. Commitment is about a balance of control.
But, and some people may disagree with me here, I believe that to be successful with any personal productivity system you have to give over a bit of that control. Without giving over a modicum of control, you cannot effectively commit to that system. Part of committing is sharing control, you have to be willing to follow the system and still maintain a degree of flexibility.
Unfortunately for many hearing about a lack of true commitment is not easy, myself included. I have tried a variety of agenda websites, task list applications and so on. What I have come to realize is that I lack commitment to taking on yet another site or app to use. It certainly isn’t due to not being fired up over new options in productivity. For myself it is about not needing to go outside of the system I use daily because it works for me. Why would I want to add in another app, site or service when I have everything structured the way that works best for me? I wouldn’t and this is what I mean when I talk about commitment. It is a commitment to productivity NOT a commitment to any one site/service/method but to what works for your personal needs.
The question of commitment is not an easy one to answer. I have been pondering it for quite some time and really each of us has to take a deep look at ourselves and ask why we want to be more productive. To figure this out there are several questions I asked myself, they may help you as well.
- Am I doing this for myself? Perhaps the most important of the questions. If we are honest with ourselves and find the only reason we want to become more productive is for others, then we have set ourselves up for failure. We have also set the stage for animosity towards those who we feel have “created” this situation. BUT, if we are honest with ourselves and want to truly become more productive for ourselves, to gain more control in our lives, then we are on the road to success! Without personal investment & commitment, personal betterment cannot happen!
- Do I really need a productivity technique? Not everyone needs personal productivity techniques. Many of us are capable of handling our tasks without needing reminders or task lists, I applaud you! For the rest of us however, maybe we need a trick here and there to make sure everything runs smoothly. The trick however is knowing when enough is enough. What if gadget are actually prohibiting productivity? Think about it for a minute. Say you have a smartphone and a web service that creates/maintains your task lists. So you SMS a new task to that site from your phone, the site adds that to your task list and then sends the updated task list back to your phone. This is the very antithesis of productivity! You could just very simply add the task to the task list on your phone and be done with it, there is no need for an intermediary site. There is the argument for having your list available to you on your computer as well but, ask yourself how often do you find yourself going to your computer for information versus using your phone? I certainly haven’t any room to condemn others for doing that either! I have used apps and services that sync my data across multiple locations, update lists on my phone, etc, etc and only to step back and realize that largely I use my phone.
- What is the point of all “productivity?” This is the question I struggle with the most and I will tell you why. Since I work freelance I tend to not gauge productivity by how much I have accomplished but more of what I have accomplished. For me it is quality versus quantity. For many of the people of have spoken with, this is the opposite of where they are at. Many feel that a quantity of work gives them a greater sense of accomplishment and most if not all of them work in offices. Another factor to take into account when working in the office is that much of management tends to use quantity as a metric for success, not quality. So again I have to ask “What is the point of productivity?” For me, productivity is accomplishing worthwhile tasks that add to either my knowledge or my quality of life. Whether or not I find a new way to clean off my desk or throw away junk mail has little bearing on my productivity, those tasks just happen without much thought these days. But, a technique that would eliminate that would eliminate 6 hours of work per week? I am all ears because that is 6 more hours I have for things that are important to me. Things such as hiking, reading, art, and video games (yes yes, an enemy of productivity!).
When I stepped back and started to honestly think about productivity, myself and what I was doing. I was a bit disappointed in myself! I was woo’d by apps and gadgets and shiny things and it threw my system out of whack! Once I sat down and asked myself the above questions again(I like to do a bit of self-review periodically), I realized, again, that personal productivity is just that, personal. Each of us varies widely and we need to custom tailor systems to meet our needs and of course our tendencies. If you want to be able to sit down and honestly use a set of productivity tools, you need to be flexible. You have to be able to recognize what is and isn’t working for you and to be critical and say “Do I really need this step at all?” and if the answer is no, then drop that step and move on!
I am sure many of you have noticed this post is different than the usual articles that I post. I have been spending a lot of time thinking about what I do and how I do it. Have I been as productive as I could be? Have I been contributing to the collective knowledge base or have I just been trumpeting others ideas? If I am honest, there is only so much that can be rehashed with personal productivity. Some may argue that the topic of personal productivity is too broad to really make these statements, I disagree. If that were true then many of the sites on the web, mine included, would have more diverse topics. Instead we have grown stagnant and stopped being productive!
I believe the time has come to stop rehashing the same ideas. Instead of focusing all of my efforts on trying to say the same things over again, I believe I will take a much more productive route!
As I have said in the past, personal productivity is just that, personal. What works for me, may not work for you at all and that is fine. The goal is finding out what we want to achieve, why we want to achieve that, and then putting the right tools in place to help us become successful.
Personal Productivity doesn’t solve all your problems but it will help you have the time to work on others!
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