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When productivity tools get in the way of actual productivity

Productivity Made Simple

I recently got a new iPhone. As I was choosing apps to download, I realized I’ve gotten to the place where I really just want the basics — social media, email, weather and driving directions, etc.

I’m a sucker for new technology, cool apps and fancy systems. I like to try them just to see what they’re all about and to discover where technology is taking us. But at the end of the day, my favorite productivity tool is still a notebook and pen. Sometimes I use a fancy Invite.l notebook and sometimes I stick with a classic Steno pad, but no matter how many systems I try, I always end up back at the notebook.

It’s tempting to think that finding the right app will solve all of my problems, but I know from experience that using electronic productivity apps and programs ends up feeling like more of a chore than a help.

The other day, Stephanie from Keeper of the Home shared a link from Michael Hyatt in our mastermind group. The post on the power of the minimum effective dose really resonated with me and my goals for my business this year, but as I got to the bottom, I chuckled at the irony of the free ebook offered at the bottom of the post, which features 99 tools and resources for your life. Ninety-nine tools…seriously? There is nothing simple or productive about using that many tools, and trying to juggle them certainly makes your life more complicated.

The truth, though, is that any productivity system can have the same effect. When we get caught up in being more productive — rather than doing the actual work — we often create more work for ourselves, not less.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all about automation and taking time to get organized. But the system needs to be a tool used to achieve your end goal, not the end goal itself.

For example, have you ever seen the beautiful color-coded, sticky note calendars and schedules on Pinterest? I absolutely love them, and I’d love to have one. Except I know myself well enough to know that if I took the time to create something like that, I’d be over it by the time I finished.

A good productivity solution is enduring.

It doesn’t need to be updated or overhauled every couple weeks or even months.

It shouldn’t take hours to set up or cost a lot of money.

And it shouldn’t overcomplicate or fancify the simple task of getting things done.

Do you prefer pen and paper or an app for organizing your to-do list? Have you ever fallen into the trap of a fancy productivity system?