Chad Magee

@cnm2334

Why you probably need more than one productivity app and system.

Sometimes less is more. But, sometimes it’s just less.

There are countless productivity methods and applications available online and in books.

Most productivity advice says to stick to one system and application. If you don’t, your system will become too complex and fail.

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However, for one reason or another, we are not all able to use only one system and/or application throughout the day.

If you are working toward personal goals on the side of an unrelated day job, you have probably found that the company you work for has its own system in place.

The IT department probably limits the software you are able to access throughout the day (Seriously, when are we switching to G-Suite?). Therefore, if your personal system doesn’t use the same software, you find yourself in a tight spot right from the start.

Most likely, your team has a system to help everyone keep track of all the moving parts.

Furthermore, the work you compete from 9–5 is probably much different than what you are striving toward outside of work.

So, with all of these barriers, how are you supposed to be productive at work, while doing the same in your personal life?

The Problem

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It’s April and in January you set your sights on a number of goals.

Some are the same — looking at you weight loss. Others are more ambitious. This is going to be the year you [insert: write novel, start business, etc.]!

You start by getting organized. Then,you realize that you don’t really know what that means.

Lifehacker to the rescue! After reading 10–12 articles on different productivity systems and apps, you finally decided on a notebook, or was it Evernote? No, it was definitely Wunderlist.

You download the app and get everything just right. Then, you arrive at work on Monday morning to find one of the previously mentioned issues standing in the way of your newly perfected system.

  1. IT blocked the Wunderlist website.
  2. Your boss now has a board with tons of sticky notes on it in the middle of your office.
  3. You realize you need a way to track items that are pending for whatever reason.

In all of these scenarios, you have two options.

Either you can adjust your system, or you can create a separate system to handle all the needs of your day job.

How to use two systems

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Step 1: Decide what you need each system to do.

The tasks you complete at work require a different kind of planning and tracking than the novel you’re writing.

For example, I create documents through collaboration with a variety of people in other departments. Moreover, I will regularly work on more than one document at a time.

After a few weeks of trial and error, I determined that I need to know a few things:

  1. What documents am I currently working on?
  2. When are they due?
  3. Where is this document? In other words, did I send it to someone else, or did they send it back to me?

I found that my personal Wunderlist system was not helping me answer these questions.

Step 2: Identify your system.

After identifying my needs and realizing they weren’t compatible with my current system, I started reviewing systems.

I asked myself, “what system gives me all of the information I need?”

Being the productivity geek that I am, I already knew that kanban was the answer to my problems.

It’s visualization of the status of a task was exactly what I needed.

With one glance, I could see:

  1. What I was working on,
  2. When each task was due, and
  3. Where the document was at in the process.

Once I decided on kanban, it was time for step three.

Step 3: Implement your new system.

When I first decided on kanban as the solution to my productivity problems, I created a vision for its implementation.

Unfortunately, that vision involved filling one portion of my desk with three columns of different colored sticky notes. Suddenly, a much different image popped into my head…

So, I decided to use Trello.

It’s the same system, but on my phone. Therefore, I wouldn’t need to buy sticky notes.

More importantly, I wouldn’t be drowning a sea of different highlighter colored sticky notes.

The Last Step

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The finishing touch was simple habit training.

When I was thinking about personal goals and tasks related to those goals, open Wunderlist and use that system.

When I was thinking about work related projects and tasks related to those projects, open Trello and use that system.

This training proved quite easy for one reason:

If I was thinking about personal goals/tasks and opened up Trello, I would see only work related tasks; thus, signaling that I needed to use the other app, and vice versa.

If you’re finding it difficult to be productive at work, as well as your personal life, try separating the two.

I think you’ll find that you’re better able to focus on the task at hand.

Photo by Pana Vasquez on Unsplash

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