Personal Productivity - is that what I really want

Matt Cornell has a nice piece on The real reasons for the modern productivity movement that he sums up with

Productivity is neither a cult nor a fad. It's a search for meaning. -- (me :-)

Interesting claim.  He goes on to study it further in his article, and the commenters have made some useful connections.  In one way, this represents the flow of thinking from

  • Am I working?
  • Am I working enough?
  • Am I getting stuff done?
  • Am I working on the right things? 
  • Am I doing the right kind of work?
  • Am I satisfied?

Cue diatribe about the educational system taking us from a life of fun and internal satisfaction to being dissatisfied because external forces tell us we need to work to be happy.  Read that somewhere else.

So... Is personal productivity the end goal, or is it just a piece of the larger puzzle.  I want satisfaction in my life.  Productivity is one element of helping me get there.  But if I am "productive" in the wrong area, then the satisfaction isn't going to be terribly deep.

And a note at the middle level of working on the right things: Jordan Frank pointed to an article by Sarah Houghton-Jan on Being Wired or Being Tired: 10 Ways to Cope with Information Overload from Ariadne, July 2008.  Rather than ten specific things, she provides general areas where one can focus and a number of things to check.  Many of these sound very familiar as starting points to make it to the next levels of thinking about my work.  Reading through the list, you'll note some repeated themes: weed, organize, use when appropriate.  (Note, the article goes into much more detail on each of these elements.  Please, go read it for the details.) 

  1. General Organisational Techniques
    • Make an Inventory of Information Received
    • Make an Inventory of Your Devices
    • Read Up
    • Think Before Sending
    • Schedule Yourself
    • Schedule Unscheduled Work
    • Use Your 'Down Time' to Your Benefit
    • Stay Tidy and on Top
    • Keep a Waiting List
  2. Filtering Information Received
    • Weed, Baby, Weed!
    • Teach Others (!)
    • Schedule Unplugged Times
    • Unplug at Will
  3. RSS Overload Techniques
    • Use RSS When Applicable
    • Remind Yourself
    • Limit the Number of Feeds
    • Organise Feeds
  4. Interruptive Technology Overload Techniques
    • Use Interruptive Technology When Appropriate
    • Check When You Want to
    • Do Not Interrupt Yourself (!)
    • Importance of the Status Message
    • Lobby for IM in Your Workplace (!)
  5. Phone Overload Techniques
    • Use the Phone When Appropriate
    • Turn Your Mobile Phone Off
    • Keep Your Number Private
    • Let It Ring
    • Work = Work; Home = Home
  6. Email Overload Techniques
    • Stop ‘Doing Email’
    • Schedule Email Scanning Times
    • Deal with Email by Subject
    • Use Email When Appropriate
    • Keep Your Inbox Empty
    • Filter Your Messages
    • File Your Messages
    • Limit Listservs
    • Follow Good Email Etiquette
    • Delete and Archive
  7. Print Media Overload Techniques
    • Just Because You Can Touch It Does Not Mean You Have to Keep It
    • Cancel, Cancel, Cancel
    • Weed What You Have
  8. Multimedia Overload Techniques
    • Choose Entertainment Carefully
    • Limit Television Viewing
    • Use Your Commute to Your Benefit
  9. Social Network Overload Techniques
    • Schedule Time on Your Networks
    • Pick a Primary Network
    • Limit Your IM
  10. Time and Stress Management
    • Use Your Calendar
    • Take Breaks
    • Eliminate Stressful Interruptions
    • Look for Software Help
    • Balance Your Life and Work

2 Comment(s)

Dan said:

It's true, today it's more important than ever to be able to stay on top of your projects.

If you'd like a tool for managing your projects, you can use this application inspired by David Allen's GTD:

You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
A mobile version and iCal are available too.

Thanks both for the analysis and interpretation, as well as the link to the Sarah Houghton-Jan article. Definitely an important to-read. I appreciate the link.

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