The mind is for having ideas, not holding them.
There is much information on productivity systems that tackle the pains that impede productivity: control your day with Getting Things Done, work with time instead of against time with The Pomodoro Technique, tackle e-mail overload with Inbox Zero, and blogs with dedicated productivity sections like LifeHacker’s GTD section. Information about productivity-improving tools is everywhere and very easy to find.
However many systems you decide to try, you won’t become any more productive than you already are if you don’t trust your productivity system; you might as well have no system at all than put in the energy to add a system you don’t trust to use.
Untrusted Systems Just Waste Time
I’ve had Wunderlist for to-do lists, Outlook.com for my calendar, and OneNote for idea capture for about two years. I’ve regularly read and re-read chapters of David Allen’s Getting Things Done for three years. My Feedly has a good smattering of blogs dedicated to productivity and productivity systems. Long story short, I’ve spent a lot of time reading about productivity, but spent very little time using the tools I have and the material I’ve read. I didn’t use it because I didn’t want to trust it with my life. I kept reading about other techniques, but never pulled the trigger and actually tried and applied the systems I was learning because I thought something better was out there, or I thought my mind could store my tasks better than any system could, or I thought everything was urgent and should stay in my head.
After three years of reading about systems, I spent more time reading about productivity systems instead of using any of the systems. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t get much done.
Get Doing and Trust A System
The only way to get things done is to actually do. Reading about doing rewarded me with wasted time not trying out the tools I read. Productivity systems, when trusted and used consistently, can frame your days, weeks, and years to help you towards your goals–whether it be starting a business, writing a blog, becoming a programmer, or anything else you want to accomplish. There are many systems out there to try, each having their own strengths and weaknesses. The GTD-Pomodoro-Wunderlist-Outlook-OneNote combination work for me, but another combination might work better for you.
The important thing is you find something that you’ll stick to, find something you’ll use each day, find something that you can trust (or learn to trust). If things need to change during the journey, keep trust that you can change, change how you’re doing things, and trust the new way you’re doing. Be consistent in your system and it’ll be easier to get things done.
What were your pains when learning how to get things done, and how did you learn to trust your system? Let me know!