Personal Productivity

“Personal productivity presents itself as an antidote to busyness when it might better be understood as yet another form of busyness. And as such, it serves the same psychological role that busyness has always served: to keep us sufficiently distracted that we don’t have to ask ourselves potentially terrifying questions about how we are spending our days.”

Oliver Burkman #

How do I stay on top of things?

Firstly, I make sure I know what’s important to begin with (via my values), as there’s no point being on top of things that don’t matter.

Secondly I’ve developed some little habits that make my day-to-day life a bit easier. I picked up a few of these from an interview with the productivity guru David Allen.

  1. I identified all my ‘inboxes’ into my life – anything that creates things I need to do. And I’ve tried to minimise how many of these I have.
  2. When something arrives for me to do I determine how long it’ll take. If it’s just a few minutes (like pay an electricity bill) I’ll just do it straight away. If someone else can do it I’ll pass it along. If I don’t want or need to do it I’ll archive it. If I need to spend some time on it I’ll schedule it in my calendar.
  3. I don’t try to aim for a completely empty inbox at all times, however, I do try to keep as much noise and distractions as possible out of my inboxes so I only have things that are time dependent or need my attention in there – like tickets for an upcoming concert.
  4. I keep lists of things I need to remember and once a day I go through them and sort and tidy them up. I have a separate list for work and home. If I remember something I need to do at work when I’m at home I email my work account with that thing so the next morning at work I remember it and add it to my (paper) to-do list. Same if I’m driving in the car and I remember something I need to do I send myself a text message via voice so I’ll remember later on.

The reason I persist with doing these habits is to try to reduce the number of things in my head, so I can be less distracted and more present when I’m around my family and out of the office. I’ve found the best way to get on top of things is to get them out of my head.