Determining What Productivity Advice to Use

Productivity tools are not a one size fits all. Choose what works best for you, your life and personality.

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By Katherine Keller


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No one can argue that productivity is essential to success: Conjuring up brilliant ideas is something that many people do every day. However, taking steps towards turning their brilliant ideas into something concrete is what separates the entrepreneurs from the rest of the pack.

I have spent a lot of time studying, discussing, writing and attending training sessions on productivity. I have learned systems of some of the most successful people on the planet and studied the psychology on why they work, why we procrastinate and what we can do about it. I've even been handed step-by-step instructions on how to implement their systems in my own life.

With enthusiasm, I began to use the tools and techniques of the successful. Guess what happened? Nothing. In some aspects I became even more unproductive.

Related: Boost Productivity by Optimizing Your Work Environment

I became so caught up in learning the processes and applying the different techniques that I lost the direction and clarity that the productivity systems were supposed to solve. And this can happen to the best of them. I am not saying to stop improving your productivity; you just need to hone in on what works and what doesn't.

Here are four tips to avoid getting bogged down with productivity tips:

Learn the basic psychology of productivity.

By learning more about yourself, you can discover what techniques work best for you.

There are several factors that determine your productivity. Motivation, talent, training, work environment, time management skills and even fears all play a part in your level of productivity.

If you want learn to become more productive then first learn more about yourself. What really motivates you? What creates stress? What are your skills that you can utilize? What makes you feel like you have had a productive day? What weighs you down? What fears do you have difficulty in overcoming?

Related: 5 Tips for Getting the Most Important Things Done Every Day

Knowing this information will help you determine the best systems for your personality.

Keep the advice that resonates with you.

You may come across an article that shares the "Top 20 Steps to Becoming More Productive." There is a possibility that 18 of those tips are just going to slow you down, because you would be attempting to implement something into your life that is not as effective as it is for others. Be discerning about what advice and systems you chose to use in your life.

Use the right tools for you.

At one point I had a client call me in tears because she felt so overwhelmed with her task list. She explained that someone told her to start using Evernote to help get her organized and on track. She had spent several days trying to learn what all Evernote could do for her business but in the meantime her to-do list continued to grow. Through her tears she asked, "Why can't I just write my lists on a piece of paper?"

This is a perfect example of someone trying to use tools or systems that actually cause more stress and decrease productivity. I am not suggesting that you should stop using Evernote but at that moment in my clients' life, it was causing more harm than good.

I use several different types of software depending upon what my clients need me to use in order to keep track of projects, but my favorite productivity tool for my personal life and business is an index card.

Does it make you feel 'light' or 'heavy?'

If it begins to feel like a burden and you dread sitting down to go through the productivity steps you are using in your business, then you are off track. Productivity systems should create a sense of "lightness" to your day, not "heaviness." They should give you a feeling of intent, purpose and motivation. They should help remove burdens from your life and not add to it.

Productivity tools are not a one size fits all. Choose what works best for you, your life and personality. Just because a particular method works best for one successful person does not mean it is the best option for you.

Related: Winning the Day Starts With Winning the Morning

Katherine Keller

President of Katherine Keller International LLC

Katherine Keller is the president of Katherine Keller International, an online marketing, branding, copywriting and graphic design agency. She also works with small business entrepreneurs, building their success mindset and overcoming fears.  

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