Stop Procrastinating Inside Your Productivity Apps.
Here’s a problem I often see and I’m surprised so few people have called it out. Productivity practices and apps that cause procrastination.
How does this happen? It happens because the productivity practice and app becomes the excuse for not doing the work. Reorganising, reviewing, processing and redoing the way projects are shown. None which gets the work done and it can last for hours, if not days.
A lot of this is caused by misunderstanding books like David Allen’s Getting Things Done and apps like Notion.
Getting Things Done, the book, is solid. The principles are sound and the best practices do work. The problem with GTD, as it is called in the productivity community, is most people who read the book focus on the system and setting up the system and not on the rather more important part of doing the work.
The problem with apps like Notion is they have so many bells and whistles, it takes an incredible amount of discipline to not want to keep changing the background colours and fonts, the way different elements are shown and the types of lists you want to see.
This is why, some of the most productive people I have met use a simple text file for their to-dos. No bells and whistles, just a list of tasks that need completing for a project or piece of work to complete.
Many people tell me they need to keep project lists to see how their projects are progressing but overlook that every time they go to check their project lists they are no longer doing the work that will progress the project forward. Now, if that review was a two to five minute review that would be fine, but more often than not the review ends up being an hour of reorganising uncompleted tasks and checking to see what tasks have already been done. That is not being productive.
What you really need to be a lot more productive and to make progress on your work so you can spend more time doing the things you want to do is simple. Just follow these five principles:
Plan the day before you finish the previous day.
Give yourself ten to twenty minutes at the end of the day to plan out what you will work on tomorrow based on what your calendar tells you and the time sensitive work you have to do. Doing this one task will reduce the need for you to go into your productivity apps looking for work to do the next day.
Start the day with email if you want to
It’s okay to check your email first thing in the morning and don’t believe all that rubbish about email hijacking your day, that only happens if you let it. It’s far better to know what’s lurking in your inbox than to be trying to get your most important work done worrying about what’s in there. Once you have checked your email, start your first big task and stay on it until your are satisfied you have done enough.
Print out or save your daily to-do list as a PDF
This trick will stop you from reorganising your task list every time you go and look at it. By printing out your daily to-do list you can cross off the tasks as you do them, add notes if you need to and then update your system when you plan the next day at the end of the day. Simple and very effective.
Do one big planning session each week
When you have a plan for the week — a list of tasks you want to accomplish you give yourself purpose. When you don’t have a plan for your week you give yourself an excuse to find ways to reorganise and play around with your productivity apps under the illusion you are looking for the next task you need to do. Skip the daily review if you must, but don’t skip the weekly planning session.
Stop finding excuses about why you are different
You are different. We all are. But that does not change the fact that we all have twenty-four hours each day and we all have things to do. People like Tony Robbins, Robbin Sharma and Brian Tracy may have assistants to help them, but they still get an enormous amount of work done each day. You have colleagues, partners and friends and they help you out too. We are not completely independent. Our internet goes down, we call the engineer. We need some name cards printing, we ask the printer to print them for us. We all have assistants. If you want the success of successful people then do the amount of work successful people do each day.
Follow these simple guidelines and you will get a lot more of you work done each day, you will procrastinate less and you will have more time to do the things you really want to do.
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