Sometimes just making a to-do list makes you feel so productive that you give yourself a break from doing anything on the list. I’m a big fan of to do lists and I encourage people to acknowledge their progress in order to stay on track.
But that’s not always fruitful.
Sometimes looking at the progress we’ve make seduces us into believing we’re done. We look at all the tasks crossed off the to-do list and feel good about ourselves. That’s not a problem usually, but in this case it is because we then let ourselves off the hook, even in pursuing a goal we’ve already identified that we want.
This kind of thinking shows up when people get excited about a new organizing system or a new app. Well, new anything, really. Something bright and shiny.
But there’s a difference when this new organizing system requires putting together and setting up. We get lost in the details of what part goes where and what the sequence is and how it all fits together.
Once it is put together, there’s the further seduction of tweaking. It’s sort of like poking the fire. There’s always more prodding and shifting you can do to a fire to get it perfect.
Then there’s more. And it’s so satisfying! Tweaking a fire is harmless though. The fire is just there for you to enjoy.
When you get stuck in tweaking mode for a productivity app, well, you can see the irony. You aren’t actually using the app. You’re not getting to the productivity part of it.
So, be wary when you get excited about a brand new thingamajig that’s going to streamline your work and skyrocket your efficiency. Read the reviews. Read the good and the bad ones!
Pay attention to what the people who like it are using it for. Maybe it’s great for Task A, but makes little difference for Task B, which is your task. In that case, who cares how great it is? It’s not going to help you enough to be worthwhile.
Be mindful of how much time you need to take away from other tasks to get this puppy up and running. What’s going to languish in the meantime? Is that worth it?
If you are looking at a substitute for something (or various things) you currently do, you need a transition plan. How will things not fall through the cracks? Sometimes people take on a new system just partially.
It’s great, but they still do one part of their work the old way, because it’s familiar and they can do it quickly and easily. Is that going to impair the system as a whole, having this one outlier being done the old way?
New and shiny isn’t necessarily better. Caveat emptor.