Our long term goal in becoming more productive is rarely to just get more done, it may be to finish a project quickly so we can work on other things or it may be to have more free time, the important thing to remember is that being more productive is not our goal – it’s a means to an end.
Remembering that productivity or efficiency is a tool and not a goal is important, productivity methodologies almost always concentrate on doing things quickly, they almost never talk about considering if things are worth doing at all.
For example, let’s say we have an ultra-efficient system to handle e-mail, we are so efficient that every time we receive an e-mail we immediately send an helpful reply.
First, we will receive replies for most of the e-mail we send – so this ultra efficient method of handling e-mail will increase the number of e-mails we receive, and second, we teach people that e-mailing us is a quicker way to get answers then looking for the answers themselves, again resulting in more e-mail.
So our efficient system for handling e-mail caused such an increase in e-mail volume that we probably have to spend more time answering e-mail then we did before becoming efficient.
So what do we do? We concentrate on our goals and prioritize our tasks, for example if our goal is to finish our project on time then an e-mail from a coworker can probably wait, an e-mail from a customer may be more urgent and getting some work done on the actual project is essential.
By the way, my own system for handling e-mail is to check my e-mails only twice a day, on the same time every day, close my e-mail and instant messenger programs when I’m working and track how much time I spend on e-mails (using yaTimer, of course) to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand.
posted @ Wednesday, March 26, 2008 11:55 AM