Does This Productivity System Make Me Look Fat?
If it doesn’t fit, it’s time to change—here’s how
Yesterday, Tony Stubblebine taught us about The Disease of Done in the Better Humans Newsletter #269. It’s a lesson you don’t want to miss.
Most things are rarely done forever. Rather they are done for the moment. — Tony Stubblebine
In essence, this is about proactively planning for change. It’s about regularly reviewing your habits and systems, and evaluating whether they’re still serving you.
Since Tony became CEO of Medium, his effective suite of productivity systems were effective no longer. I love how he describes what he’s doing about it:
So I am calmly rebuilding my systems.
For me, the most significant word in that sentence is calmly. He’s not giving in to the feeling of being out of control during this transition phase. He’s calmly approaching the rebuilding process, taking things one step at a time.
When you know that nothing is ever truly done, you’ll be prepared to start rebuilding your systems, rather than being gutted that it wasn’t set-and-forget after all.
When should you stop tweaking an infinitely tweakable productivity system?
Many of the productivity articles I read have a common theme, along the lines of moving from app or system A, to app or system B. I love hearing people talk about their productivity journeys, especially when it has a plain text background!
As a recovering app addict and shiny object chaser, I shied away from new or complex productivity methods for a time. Simple is best, I thought. Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous teaches its members that “the simpler we keep our food, the greater our freedom.”
That’s a good philosophy to apply to productivity systems, too, as long as you realise that simple might mean something different tomorrow than it does today. Habits and systems must be formed as reformed as the circumstances of your life change.
I’ve spent countless hours creating, testing and refining a plain text productivity system that suits my brainwaves. After getting all the links and transclusions in place and writing an 11-minute tutorial to teach others to do the same, I thought I was done.
But then it stopped working for me. I don’t know why this beautiful, well-thought out system came to a halt, and I don’t need to.
Turns out what I need now is a vastly stripped down version of that original template. A weekly log. Tomorrow — who knows?
Lesson: Don’t be afraid to move on from what was your darling of a project. Archive it for future reference, and start using what you need now (not what you needed then).
Please don’t read this as an excuse to focus on your system rather than on what the system is supposed to do for you.
The best approach will always be to keep your eyes firmly fixed on where you’re heading, building the simplest vehicle to get you there that your circumstances require.
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