Back to the Basics of Productivity
Back to the Basics of Productivity

Back to the Basics of Productivity

Back to the Basics of Productivity

Have you ever wondered why, after hundreds of years of innovation, we still use paper? There is still a use for train tracks, telephone poles, rubber wheels and the like. These things have been around for decades but we still use them. They seem so basic but yet they stand the test of time and are still very useful to this day.

When it comes to productivity, many are going back to using just paper and although I am a tech enthusiast, I do appreciate the use of paper based productivity systems. The question is, why are so many people going back to using paper when for years we've been trying to innovate more advanced forms of applications that can assist us in being more productive?

What is Productivity?

Let's say you have eight hours allocated to get things done. You decide your priorities for that day are to (1) walk the dog and (2) go get your car washed. Would it be productive if it took the full eight hours to accomplish these tasks? Absolutely not! This is where productivity is key. You're trying to complete these tasks in the least amount of time so that you can move on to other priorities or projects. If it takes you eight hours to walk the dog and wash the car, how much time would it take you to accomplish truly time intensive tasks? Frankly, you would never get anything worthwhile done in a reasonable amount of time. This in turn would impact your life in a negative way.

Basically, productivity is the process of producing or accomplishing something of value within a set amount of time. To this end systems, methods, machines, hardware, software, and applications have been developed to help us cut down on the amount of time it takes us to produce or accomplish something of value. But somehow we have lost sight of the simplicity and basics of productivity.

What happened?

Why do we still use trains to transport goods from one place to another? Because it works. This is the reason so many are going back to utilizing paper in their productivity system. Because it works.

The problem with so many productivity based applications and software is the fact that, over time, they try to add so many features and eventually the productivity tool loses its usefulness. It becomes bloated.

Think of it though... who's fault is that? Ours.

Using an analog based productivity system like a journal or a planner is definitely getting back to the basics but what have many people done? They've taken something so simple and started adding so much to it that it becomes bloated. For example, the original bullet journal was a very simple system that Ryder Carroll created to track the past, organize the present, and prepare for the future. Basically he created it to help him be productive. But many people have turned the bullet journal into, well, something else.

This is the same reason developers of applications feel compelled to add so much to these productivity applications. Something that starts off with the premise of productivity turns into something else because it's what their users want. People basically forget the core purposes for the tools they use and start clamoring for additional features and uses that take away from the functional strength of the application or system.

Don't get me wrong, in itself there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. But we have to appreciate that once we change the functional strength of a productivity system or tool, it inevitably takes us away from being productive. It then becomes... something else.

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We need to get back to the basics of productivity.

The Solution

We have to appreciate that productivity lives in the space of getting important things done in a reasonable amount of time so that we can produce value. We don't need the most intricate and fancy tools to do that. We need priorities, an understanding of our time, and the discipline needed to follow through.

We can't get upset with productivity applications, the bullet journal, or planners because they seem to be transforming into bloated and complicated systems. We have to start appreciating that we are the ones that have forgot what it is we're trying to do.

We need to get back to the basics of productivity.

Personally, this is something that I'm working to do myself. I call myself a productivity "power user" with applications like Notion but honestly I am learning to appreciate the basics and core features of the application. Being a "power user" means we are powerful in our use of an applications core features not in the non-essential features. Frankly....

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We need to get back to the basics of productivity.

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