Amidst the growing market for productivity tools and techniques, simplicity is an oft-overlooked underdog for getting things done, efficiently and effectively. In the pursuit for gaining incremental productivity, people tend to lose out on opportunities for gaining massive productivity which is possible only through focused engagement during work.
What are these pursuits for incremental productivity?
These pursuits can come in various forms like:
- Maintaining a multi-structured inbox
- Using topic-segmented to-do lists
- Multi-layered categorisation of tasks
- Using various to-do application in sync with team management app etc.
While the convenience (and in some cases, its necessity) cannot be denied when viewed from a typical productivity standpoint, yet maintaining such a system requires effort and time-effort for making entries, revising etc. and time for doing all the admin-related stuff to ensure these systems are working as intended. And these systems may yield productivity gains. Yet if you retrospect on the various tasks done in the past using these systems, what was the quality of these works-were those some of the best you had delivered? In the pursuit of dishing out completed tasks one after the other, did this system really help you in filtering out the truly relevant task from the rest. In most cases, it is a no. These systems, through its incremental productivity boosters and engaging nature ends up mesmerising the end-user to utilise the system more in the name of productivity instead of utilising it for improving productivity to do the important stuff. Also, the time required to uphold these fragmented systems could have been utilised for improving the quality of a few important work over the average output of a hundred meaningless task.
Reclaiming focus through simplicity
In order to cut to the chase and approach productivity with a task’s priority under consideration, it is better to keep things extremely simple so that minimal time is required to let you know what are the things need to be done and which amongst those are truly relevant and important .
Yet the persisting question that may arise is that such a system focused on simplicity can be achieved? Well, the answer will vary from person to person, but you can refer the following scenarios to gain a practical perspective of this point of view:
- Inboxes: Instead of maintaining multiple folders (and associated rules for categorising the incoming messages) at the risk of missing out on the important mails, one can utilise the default “Inbox”” and “Archive” for categorisation-whatever unnecessary can be programmed to directly go to archive and what remains back are relevant need to be actioned upon or replied to. This saves times in having to maintain multiple rules in parallel, wasting time and effort in ensuring the mails are going to the right folders and so on.
- Categorisation List: A use case of this reference was recently highlighted by the extraordinary Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios. When asked how he views the Marvel Universe considering the recent foray into TV series, cartoons, games etc. in addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). His answer was simple: The movies are grouped under MCU and the rest are viewed as “Everything Else”. And this was a brilliant application of simplicity. Such a simple categorisation helps in two ways-maintaining focus on what’s the most important yet also keeping a tab of the other things that needs to be done. In case of Marvel Studios, as of date, their MCU movie productions are the most important followed by everything else and this is how the maestro views it. It saves him time to better direct the resources and efforts on different aspects based on their priority status.
In short, minimising unnecessary categorisation and avoiding setting up systems requiring effort and time for maintenance can go a long way in facilitating time for focusing on what’s important and thus helping them approach productivity in a meaningful and contextually relevant manner.
Thank you for your time.
See you tomorrow!!!