The “personal” in productivity doesn’t just act as some form of ownership, it also represents how you feel about the choices you make to achieve your level of productivity.
Some people aren’t all that productive, which means that productivity is not something they have taken care of on a personal level. They tend to deal with what they’re given, neglecting to make it more personal for them. That doesn’t mean they can’t be more productive, it’s just that they haven’t taken it on as personally as others have — especially as personally as “productivityists” have.
It’s pretty clear who is personal about their productivity workflows — you can tell by how they carry themselves. If they are passionate about an app, they’ll sing its praises (and occasionally condemn other apps in the process). If they are heavily into David Allen’s Getting Things Done™ methodology, then they’ll rarely stray from it (and sometimes misconstrue what it is because they are so blinded by said passion for it).
I’ll give you an example. Users of Remember The Milk seem to get really vocal when their app of choice isn’t mentioned in lists ranking top task management apps. I’m not saying they’re not right to draw RTM to the attention of both the author and commenters, but it’s more of a testament of how passionate they are to an app that simply does the job for them. Same goes with users of ToodleDo. And when it comes to productivity methods, Behance’s Action Method (the online version of which has since been discontinued) is one that I see get mentioned far less than approaches like Agile, Kanban, or the aforementioned GTD.
My relationship with personal productivity is one of exploration. I spend time looking at different methods and apps because I truly enjoy doing so. I’ve got a beta version of The Week Dominator that I am putting through the paces, I’ve got workflow enhancement apps that I integrate into my day, and I have been known to move to different task management apps from time to time.
Yet I’ve still managed to carve out a nice living, write a few books, and spend time with my family all the while. I’ve become personally attached to what my productivity systems and apps enable me to do more efficiently and effectively. Make no mistake — I do have my personal favourites. But I am more than willing to try out other things to see if they can crack into that “favourable area” as well.
Productivity needs to be taken personally. If you don’t take it personally then you’re not going to come close to realizing your full potential. There’s no bigger waste of time than that.
This essay appears in my book, Beyond Trying, which was released in early October 2014.