May 7, 2020

Productivity System Series Intro

For most of my working life I have been trying to figure out how to take effective notes. I’ve struggled to organize them in a way where they can be useful in the future. Over the last 15 years I have used several apps. I’ve had many false starts. I’ve been really frustrated.

I still struggle, but I am going to write about my productivity processes in hopes of clarifying them for myself. I’ve learned a lot over the last few years about what works for me. I want to bring it all together and hopefully sharing it with you will help make that happen.

There are so many productivity tools and apps out there. It can feel overwhelming. Most are very similar. Each one has its own strengths, weaknesses, and nuances. I have wasted a lot of time jumping from one to the next.

Ultimately the applications don’t really matter, but you need to have a general structure for how you want to keep your notes. Note-taking, and writing in general, is a major component of an overall productivity system.

I plan for this productivity series of blog posts to focus on note taking, but I do want to outline all of the different components of my productivity system.

  • An email system & workflow
  • Calendar System
  • Task Manager
  • Structured Note Taking System
  • Unstructured Note System
  • Journal

There are tons of productivity bloggers and YouTube-ers out there that do a great job. I will surely be linking to and referencing many of my favorites. I’m not going to pretend that I am adding anything new to all the great productivity content . However, I am sharing what has been most relevant to me. By taking the time to explain my process hopefully I can further clarify to myself what I am doing and why I am doing it.

I think it is helpful to observe how other people manage their own productivity. It is healthy to see how other people work effectively. You will almost never find the answer by merely copying what somebody else does. You need to make it work for you.

Our systems are only as good as the time we dedicate to them. Ideally we are trying to find a way to manage everything in as little time as possible. But you will have to dedicate time. Most people fail because they let the system sit for too long and it becomes irrelevant.

All of those tasks become a massive amount of work to go through, so we never do. Eventually we will get motivated and try starting with something new…. Rinse and repeat.

This is how I currently am with email. I still haven’t found something that Is helpful and easy to stick with.

I have felt better about my note taking systems, but there is still friction I want to work through. I am on the verge of trying some new apps[1], but before I do that I want to make sure I have clarity about what I need.

Whenever I step out of my cozy app system I get overwhelmed by how many tools are out there. With note-taking in particular, new apps are popping up all of the time. Notion & Roam Research look to be strong contenders that are new on the scene.

Join me as I try to make my productivity system seem coherent. Maybe you will be exposed to a new idea or app that will help you out.

  1. Or returning to my old friend Evernote!  ↩

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