Is being productive getting in the way?

Recently I saw this crazy video about building systems that Chad Fowler put on. Super long, but very interesting. My take aways from his keynote presentation about building systems:

  • Throw out the system & rebuild it
  • Use lots interchangeable parts

Anyway, Chad’s point is that the structure can stay the same, the architecture can remain intact, but the building parts need to be thrown out. Much like the human organism, recycle the form but replace the material.

The other point that Chad makes, use lots of interchangeable parts… Well that’s been a struggle of mine when I think about knowledge work. I want everything to be in just one web service, or mobile app, or software application, or notebook. I don’t want to work from more than one location. I know you can agree with me.

So I took up Chad’s though process and threw out my entire system of productivity. Yup, the whole thing. The only thing that remained was the knowledge of what I wanted to do with my day. And I wanted to build on my strengths.

The first of my strengths is writing. That seemed plenty simple, so I grabbed a hardbound notebook I had been journalling in and got to thinking. And before I wrote another word, I looked up journalling on YouTube and found bullet journalling. It was like discovering the knowledge navigation dashboard.

The next thing I did was continue thinking as I wrote. I knew that if I could just get past all the little things that what would come out was the result I was looking for: getting stuff done and being productive.

The next strength that I realized that I had was the ability to follow a routine. I didn’t realize that coupling these two things together (writing & routines) would generate something really interesting: workflows. That’s when I discovered workflowy.

Now, I will admit that it is helpful to use a bullet journal to document the thoughts that are streaming through your world view and to help navigate them, but a bullet Journal is not a very effective workflow diagram tool. Work flows are supposed to be shared with other people and refined over time so that they demonstrate the most effective and efficient way of accomplishing a activity. Workflowy let’s you do just that.

So now I could see that I by blending strengths together that I was in fact becoming more productive.

The next strength that I decided to pair with my first, writing, was my fearless sense of sharing. Honest. I have nearly zero fear of sharing the details of my life or the things that I do. Why hide? The more that I get out, the less I have to keep in.

So then I go over to my WordPress and start thinking about my blog. You know, it is a sad thing. A very sad thing. I have re-inveted and deleted almost every post I have made maybe three times. I guess you could say that I threw out the system. And so I thought to my self, who is the most successful blogger I can think of? Seth Godin.

In visiting his blog, I went to his first post and read it, out loud as I walked home from the gym. It was very clear what he was doing. He was experimenting with writing and sharing what he knew. So I thought, well… I can do that. And I took to my WordPress and wrote some diatribe about not sacrificing your health for being dependable. What a load, right?

I have these combinations happening. Taking what I am good at and combining them with other things I am good at. All I have to do here is: write+routine+share=?

That’s where it dawned on me. I have been working so hard for years in trying to be productive, using literally a dozen productivity systems and styles only to switch and change and shift and reorient myself. Disguising the fact that I am not being productive by using productivity tools and mindsets. For every minute of productivity that I logged away in some tool or some strategy, was another minute I wasn’t being productive.

Are you disguising productivity software and systems for a productives structure or architecture?

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