Busy or Productive?

Everyone is busy doing things.  No one is sure what these people might be trying to accomplish, but with practical mastery, they appear to be very busy.  Amid this flurry of activities, they even manage to check their phone every thirty seconds!  Not amazing to me.  What you are observing is not productivity.  This artful and stressful display of busyness is more likely an unstructured mess of ill-defined priorities of work.

David Allen (The Art of Getting Things Done) has invested much of his career in sharing what he has learned with concrete methods of being productive.  A couple of his quotes immediately caught my attention:  “Your heads for having ideas, not holding them; “your head is a crappy office.”

We need to have a material version of what and when we apply our attention outside of our heads.  Research shared by Allen indicates that a human may only have four ideas/items in their heads at any given time.  What has your attention and when you focus on it requires a material structure outside of your fluid and often interrupted thought.  Defining the work and the order of work that you apply your attention to is a key to productivity.

“Most people feel best about their work the week before their vacation, but it’s not because of the vacation itself. What do you do the last week before you leave on a big trip? You clean up, close up, clarify, and renegotiate all your agreements with yourself and others. I just suggest that you do this weekly instead of yearly.”    — David Allen  —  

Organize outside of your head and regularly process through what matters most with your work to be the most productive.  From another tried and true perspective for many of us, “It’s not enough to do your best, you must first know what to do and then do your best.”   – Deming   


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