Embrace Constraints To Evolve

Best Tools and Methodologies Are Not Going to Make You More Productive

I must confess, I am a procrastinator. Today is Sunday, Wednesday we are moving out of our current home but I haven't packed my stuff yet. Even after reading five times “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, even if I have books everywhere at home about project management, agile methodologies and what else.

The best tools and the best methodologies are not going to make you more productive.

You can forget the nifty tools like integrating Instapaper with your Kindle, the stuff from 37signals, GTD or whatever nice new “SaaS application making your life better and more productive”. Tools are just the top of the iceberg, the immersed part, the one that really matters is you.

You can become more productive only if you change who you are.

Yes, you need to change who you are and the latest tools are not going to do this for you. They will even make it worse, because they are selling you as advertising how easy it is with them to be more productive. One week boost, $25 in the pocket of the new application authors and you will fall back where you were, with the feeling that one more time you were not able to make it.

I did that (many times if you look at my library and my password ring), I am still there and the endless stream of books on the subject can hint you that you are not alone. You can find a lot of quick win stuff into them. GTD had tremendous effects on my life and the way I am organized. But these books should maybe add a full chapter on how hard it is to do this in a sustainable way.

It will be hard, very hard, for you to become more productive because you need to change the way you are at the same time you change the way you work to get lasting effects.

Who you are in that case is a lot linked to what are your habits. This means that you need to change your habits. And this is hard, like keeping your weight after a diet, you have the boost of losing weight, but then you must keep it where it is on the long run. You have the productivity boost because you configured Org-mode but then you must keep it for months or years. These quick changes need to become new habits.

The real question is not anymore “how to become more productive?” but “how to change my habits?”

You can only change step by step and it takes time, do not think tomorrow, think about your life time, it is hard but it is definitely worth it. So, when you have a dip, remember that you are not alone, just take a break, a nap, exercise, clean your office and start again. After a while, the first changes will become new habits and you will be able to tackle new changes and new challenges.

Loïc d'Anterroches,
Sep 19, 2010

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