Personal Productivity Tools that Support Great SystemsSep 20, 2021
As we started looking at How to be More Productive, I shared what I thought was a great example of how impactful systems can be in helping us knock out even the most dreaded tasks - like cleaning the kitchen… We also started looking at why productivity gets so much of our attention, the need for effective systems in order to achieve that productivity, and a simple process for identifying the tasks that should get the bulk of our attention to achieve the best possible productivity. Let’s face it though, most of the demands we face on a professional level usually tie back to how effective we are at developing our own personal systems for fulfilling our obligations and getting tasks checked off our lists…
Once we’ve thoroughly worked through those three R’s to determine what truly needs our attention and which things we should be focusing on first, we still need a way to manage it all. As I was looking at a few different resources on this topic, I found an article on SmallBizTrends.com from 2014 called 20 Suggestions to Boost Your Personal Productivity that listed things like knowing when to take a break, don’t multitask, love what you do (which ties back to the idea of Reward), eliminate distractions, write things down, and a whole bunch more - 15 more to be exact… None of them were all that complicated and each seemed to be at least somewhat applicable in most scenarios. But for the same reason I was initially drawn to those three R’s, 20 different suggestions was a bit more than I’d want to dive into, especially if I’m already struggling to keep my head above water!
Then I found another article that grabbed my attention: The 5 Personal Productivity Tools You Need to Stay on Top of Everything! Whittling it down from 20 things I should apply to 5 tools that help me knock things off my list sounded great! The bulk of that article mapped out different kinds of technology we can take advantage of to get the most of each day. If you like to have an app for everything, you may enjoy reading the entire thing. Quite honestly, I see value in each thing the author mentions… That said, let’s stick with what made the top of his list, using a calendar!
I’ve been a calendar nerd for over twenty years. And truth be told, I don’t use it quite like the fellow who wrote that article suggests but it’s still the most important system I use on a routine basis! Not only do I use my calendar for every single meeting or appointment, it serves as a tool for scheduling time for every task I need to accomplish on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Whether those are tasks around the house like changing the whole-house water filter every two months, the multiple meetings I’m scheduled to attend on a monthly basis, or writing and presenting sessions in our Leading At The Next Level program twice each month, having them all somewhere that I can see them at a glance has been a huge help. In addition to that, Cindy and I share our digital calendars with one another so either of us can book appointments for the other as needed.
Having all the routine tasks mapped out over the course of a year helps me avoid forgetting any of them as my days fill up - and every day seems to fill up! But by developing the habit of using my calendar for everything that needs my attention, I’m able to block the specific time necessary for each task and I’m able to see where I have open spots to squeeze other things in (which doesn’t happen quite as frequently as I’d like).
I realize this idea of being diligent about using a calendar may seem really basic, but sometimes the most basic systems give us some of our best results! I’ve also heard folks push back on the idea of being that meticulous because it may stifle their creativity. I’d argue it does just the opposite, and I’ll tell you why next time… For now, just know I’m not suggesting a specific way to use your calendar, just that it can be an incredibly powerful tool for keeping things from falling through the cracks and for ensuring the most important things get done!