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The ultimate productivity tip

Brattleboro, VT Rainbow

I've been tagged twice today with the "Ultimate Guide to Productivity" meme; Ian McKenzie (the voice behind Ian’s Messy Desk) and Brett Kelly (host of The Cranking Widgets Blog) came after me. I don't like responding to the "ego" memes (e.g., "five things about myself"), but I'd like to have some fun with this one, in which the Instigator Blog has challenged the initial round of bloggers to "pick your single best productivity tip." My answer:

There is no single best productivity tip
Am I cheating? No.

I've found that everyone needs something different, and - like clichés - a tip that you find less-than-compelling will knock the socks off someone else. For example, I had one client who loved the A-Z filing system. Absolutely the best thing she'd ever heard. The next client? Convinced that the tickler was the thing.

And naturally I'm pleased when a piece (either an organizing tool or a concept, i.e., how to break stuff into actions) helps someone - value is value. But I'm happiest when the entire system clicks for a client. I guess that's the piece that hit me the hardest, and is what separates a buffet approach ("bag of tips/tricks") from a comprehensive and integrated framework.

So maybe the ultimate tip is to figure out what you currently need to make a jump (or leap) in your self management, and adopt it. Then repeat, until you're six feet under. Hey, you might even find a new profession!

Reader Comments (5)

"So maybe the ultimate tip is to figure out what you currently need to make a jump (or leap) in your self management, and adopt it. Then repeat, until you're six feet under."

Yep! That definitely worked for me. After the initial leap with my inbox(es) and general filing system, I brought GTD down to the microcosmic level with each chapter of my dissertation. Dug me out of a huge hole! What is so neat to me is to find how applicable the methods are to vastly different areas of my life.

May 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

I'm still waiting for that ultimate tip to show its face. *sigh*

May 15, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterdon

Rebecca: Thanks for your story - good to hear.

Don: Sorry! I'm open to suggestions; maybe you have the Grand Unified Theory of Productivity floating around in your head somewhere? Generally, when there are so many different books on the topic, each of which addresses a subset (i.e., don't work for everyone) it makes me wonder whether a single system for everyone is possible. Likely not... But doesn't mean we should stop trying.

May 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

Matt, I am surely sure more posts like this would make a nice addition to your blog. It came across fresh 'n funny, a fitting antidote to the ernest, deep-thought research results from the MattLabs. (Or maybe you want to have a second blog with short postings like that.) Anyway, the remarable thing is how different a light this post casts on how I do perceive your personality. Keep the fun stuff coming!


May 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher K

Christopher: Thanks a bunch - your feedback is really welcome. I had a similar bit of information from a recent workshop participant. He/she suggested that when I loosened up after my initial (and apparently serious) intro that the class became more fun. Time to change!

Thanks very much.

May 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

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