Reading Productivity Articles Does Not Make You Productive

January comes with a slew of resolutions. Some are about getting organized and being more productive, and the inevitable batch of articles from everyone about how to be more productive. And they have stock images of harried looking people surrounded by stacks of paper. (I think my choice is much more soothing).

So you spend hours reading such articles. Not productive.

And you spend hours setting up systems and files and meetings and Gantt charts that nobody can quite get the hang of using because it is your system and way of working, not theirs and so they are rejected.  Not productive.

I don’t think productivity is about your beautifully colour coded files, or code phrases (although I read the Staples catalogue like others read the Victoria’s Secret Catalogue). I think productivity is about actually doing what you’re meant to be doing, not spending time organizing what you’re meant to be doing.

A couple of articles that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Tips For Getting More Organized – Don’t.


Managing Yourself With Your Smartphone.

Things I like that have made me more productive? Given that I spend most of my communication time emailing it’s mostly about email.

Gmail’s Boomerang – which allows me to tag a sent message to come back to my inbox if nobody responds in X number of days.  Now I don’t have to remember when I’ve sent it, did they respond, go through sent file, go through email files find and resend. Gmail will tell me. One less thing to worry about until I need to worry about it. It also allows me to write the email now and schedule it to send later – not sitting in drafts where I keep clicking and wondering what that is – it just deals with it so I can do other stuff.

Gmail also suggests people to add to an email chain. If I usually email Ashley, Rhett and Scarlett at the same time, and this time only email Rhett, it will suggest I add Scarlett and Ashley before I send it, saving time on the Fwd: whoops! forgot to add you! front. Which is essentially another email chain. Not productive.

And my favourite: Dear Rhett, attached please find the commendation for Ashley as a true gentleman. And I go to hit send, and Gmail pauses and asks, “you used the word attached in your email but there is no attachment. Continue?”


If you would like to continue reading productivity articles, by all means do so. But I’m going to mix my suggestion metaphors here.

Kaizen – long story short (no, I’m not linking to an article, you have two articles up there to read and I will not enable your habit).  Small steps. One thing. Not hundreds of dollars of organizing tools and equipment from Staples, but one thing you can do to get organized. Thousand mile journey, single step idea.

And from The Table Comes First by Adam Gponik which is a wonderful book about food. In the chapter on recipes, he points out that most recipes by celebrity chefs are too daunting to create as a whole, by yourself, in your little four burner, one strainer kitchen.  Instead we “read a long recipe and take away from it a singly feature – a new way of reducing onions, the idea of adding the cubed potatoes to the green beans – a gesture, rather than a gestalt.

TORONTO BUDGET: Arts Won’t Be Cut. – many thanks to  Councilor Gary Crawford, Councilor Michael Thompson  the Executive Committee,  the members of Theatre Task Force. I’d also like to add in a big thank you to everyone who wrote letters, emailed, called, went and gave deputations, blogged, facebooked, tweeted and generally rallied around the idea that cuts to the Arts are cuts to our City and our quality of life.

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