Normally when we discuss productivity we discuss the tools that help to make us more productive. In this article I will be discussing tools that are essential in the process of getting things done. However, before we even sit down to the tools to utilize them, we have to take stock of our work environment to make sure it isn’t cluttered with stuff that can deter productivity through disorganization.
Our Work Environment
Our work environment might encompass a broad array in that some people go to an office to work while others work at home or in a house whilst others work in a store. In all these environments, it is important that we have just what we need rather than a highly cluttered environment. Walking into any work environment that is cluttered often leads to a low feeling as quite often it’s impossible to know where to start and in the worst of cases how do we get to where we need to start.
Clearing the Clutter to get Started
Not everyone’s work environment is filled with clutter which stands between us and getting the job done. However, it is often the case that there is a fair bit of either physical or electronic clutter or a mashing of both that affects our ability to get it done whatever that might be.
I’m not talking about an OCD approach to one’s workspace but one in which it is condusive to getting to It. If the task looks so overwhelming due to clutter or disorganization which stands between you and accomplishment you’ll give up before you even start.
There is no such thing as perfection. It simply doesn’t exist and thus the defeat of someone with OCD before they even get going. You know inherently though that which is a conducive work environment. Inherently, you know what it looks like when there isn’t so much clutter between you and that task at hand,
Organize your Environment to Get Started
With the task in hand of decluttering or getting rid of or at least putting the stuff out of the way that is preventing you from doing your task you can start to organize yourself to get things done. It’s best at this stage though to really have decluttered and organized your environment as if you just shove it out of the way that pile will be sitting there preying for your attention. Decluttering is a healthy thing in that it allows you to feel better about yourself and get a handle on how you have to organize your task.
Let’s approach organization in a two faceted way. The one is the physical. You simply have an organized workspace to then carry out the organization of what you have to do. So in essence, your first primary todo’s are to declutter and to feel like you are in an organized environment. From there, you can then deploy tools, many of which have been discussed at length at this site to get yourself going in an organized and methodical way.
Time to Get Going
Now that the environment is in order you can apply yourself to getting started with getting things done. You really only need two primary tools to do this. One is a task manager and the other is a storage system to record what is going on. The first gives you the guidance and also a reference point and the second a system in which to record what you’ve done. Sometimes you’ll complete a task and later, if you don’t have a good reference system you may have no idea why you did something.
Choosing a Task Management System
The choice of a task management system depends on a pile of variables some more important than the other. As an example, usability is probably the most important aspect of your system because if you cannot use it your dead at the gate before you even get going.
It’s important to remember that your task management system is there to provide you with a structure in terms of the way you go about doing things and also to remind you of things that need to be done or in other words to keep you on track. To do this, your system can be as complex or as simple as that which works for you as long as it meets these criteria.
Getting Down to Brass Tax
You will find there is a lot of hype around one system or another but no system does you any good unles you can use it and it has the functions you need to be able to use it. As an examle, Omnifocus is considered a fairly complete system by many but unusable buy others. If you find it unusable stay away from it.
On the other hand, a system such as Clear is considered very simple but certainly doesn’t have the functions associated with Omnifocus. Yet, you might take to this like a fish to water and find it very usable and effective. If it is both usable and effective and in some cases the most enjoyable to use it is likely you’ll use it, maintain a structure and consistency to what you have to do and accomplish it.
There are systems that are seen as middle ground systems in that they are easier to use but still remain powerful. However, if you find it complicated, not effective and therefore doesn’t do the job of reminding you of a task and keeping you on course it isn’t of much value.
In many ways, this is a bit of an each to their own as long as it is meeting the criteria. There’s a system referred to as GTD or the Getting Things Done system which might be the methodological approach you want to follow but when the rubber meets the road you hate the system. The system has to help with our criteria of structure, reminding you of things to do and actually accomplishing those things. If a GTD system makes you want to run as far as you can away from it, it is of no value. For some, the value in this system is tremendous whereas others get as much or more done using a different approach altogether, It’s important that you be your guiding light here and not some fad of the day.
Seondary Tools are Essential
Your primary tool around Getting Things done is you and the harmony you bring to your work environment. Then there’s the tool you’ll use to control how you manage your tasks. However, there are important auxillary tools that need be considered in this process.
There has to be a tool in which you store what you’ve done. Evernote might be your tool for this task. To be able to get at what you’ve accomplished wherever you are is very important. it is just another essential aid as you move along accomplishing what you want to do.
Then there’s a very neat organizational tool called Voodoopad which is really your personal wiki allowing you to think about problems in multi-dimensonal ways.
The Goal is to Get Your Stuff Done
In the end of the day, there isn’t necessarly a right or wrong way to accomplish getting things done. What is essential is that you just do it in a congenial environment that feels nice to work in with tools that you know how to work and get things done.
You’ll feel a certain sense of self-pride that your environment is decluttered and organized. You’ll have a sense of mastery over the tools you choose to get the job done but ensure that you choose a tool in each group that leverages whatever you need to do.
The sense of mastery and accomplishment in being able to carry out the above is very rewarding. Also, you’ll definitely appreciate your new found productivity. Perserver without getting obsessional and you’ll find this to be a rewarding exercize and not just a task that needs to be done.