A New Paradigm for Productivity

For years I’ve been shifting my focus away from conventional productivity. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with getting things done as quickly as possible. I strive to maximize my output. The problem is that most productivity gurus (and blogs) focus on productivity as the end result.

What they miss (and I include David Allen’s Getting Things Done [GTD] in this) is a holistic view. It doesn’t matter how much you do if it doesn’t support a balanced life. Who cares if you cross off a ton of to do items if they are not focused on achieving your goals. They also tend to create a situation where the system (and the underlying technologies and techniques) become more important than achievement.

Most productivity experts mention having a long range view. The challenge is that this is given only lip service. Some (David Allen comes to mind) actually say it is better to use a first in first out approach and not worry about priorities. What ends up happening is you get buried in doing work that does little to move you forward. Using the 80/20 rule you end up focusing on the 80% of the tasks that only give you 20% of your results. Remember, these are often the tasks that “shout” at you.

Recently I’ve started seeing a shift from this task based viewpoint. The first move I saw was from Leo Babauta. He distilled GTD into a lean and minimalistic version called Zen to Done. I liked how he simplified GTD. To be blunt this is a better product for most people. At $10 it is highly recommended.

Merlin Mann (43Folders) also has taken a profound change in direction. He is changing the focus of his blog from productivity to accomplishment. Since he was the one of the original and most vocal bloggers about GTD this is a major event.

A great article on this was written this week by Dustin Wax at Lifehack.org. Toward a New Vision of Productivity is the first part of a 12 part series on the future of productivity. It does a great job examining this shift and covers it from a broader perspecive than mine!

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2 Responses to “A New Paradigm for Productivity”

  • Focus and organization keep us on the road to productivity but what guides that action is pre-planning and tracking so that our goals are truly met in an efficient, focused and organized manner.

    In other words goals are good but productivity needs to accomplish that goal and the system be tamed!

    Thanks

  • B Smith

    @Scott-I couldn’t agree more. It is a symbiotic relationship. Goals without action are just dreams. Action without direction (goals) is like a gerbil running on a wheel. It is most effective when your vision drives your goals which drive your day to day actions.

    My problem with most systems is that they tend to focus on one or the other. GTD focuses on the action. The Secret focuses on the vision. Neither give you a balanced view of both!

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