Work, flow

Productivity is an interesting topic, no wait, hear me out. Yes, making lists, notes and being organised aren’t the most glamorous tasks in the world, but the implications and outputs of being productive are. Doing more, achieving more, giving more, being more — now that’s interesting.

We live in an era with more opportunities than any other time in history. However, these opportunities also mean we live in the most stressful period. Not as stressful as being chased by a sabre-toothed tiger, but a type of stress which we have not yet evolved to deal with in an optimal way. The predators we face today are different from the predators of our ancestors. Today’s predators come in the form of the stacks of unanswered emails, project deadlines, and multi-tasking lives many streams.

One of the fascinating aspects of humans is how we distribute our intelligence to our tools. People have a very intimate relationship with their tools which began with early cavemen harnessing fire and developing hunting tools and the wheel. These devices enabled them to evolve by making their lives easier. Similarly, having a personalised approach allows us to navigate through contemporary predators with less stress and gives us time to focus on the things that matter. A productivity system acts as your distributed cognition, or an extension your mind.

Adaptability is crucial in any personal productivity practice. Your workflow should encompass the tools, environment and skills needed to make better decisions, but it should also grow and develop as you and your circumstances do. I have a pretty complicated system I have built up over the course of 6 years, but sometimes when I’m very busy, I simplify. Other times when I’m not as busy and can cope with a bit more, my workflow becomes more elaborate. However, the complicated method I have now did not start out that way. It started out of need. So if you want to be more, do more and achieve more, I suggest the following steps to setting up your personalise workflow:

  • Recognise your need for a system, its value and commit to maintaining it.
  • Start simple, based on a particular need and add complexity as you move along.
  • Your system should adapt as your life changes.
  • Switch things up now and then to avoid monotony.