I remember when I first discovered David Allen’s book Getting Things Done.
I was holding down a challenging corporate job and working on a side hustle.
I had a toddler at home and a mountain of stress at work. I was managing a team of writers (this is an oxymoron) and juggling complicated deliverables for customers, coworkers, and executives.
And all of those wonderful productivity routines seemed like they were going to make my life simple and stress-free.
I was fairly religious about “GTD,” as we cult members called it back then. (Except for keeping track of future activities in 43 paper folders. A calendar is a thing that did not need to be reinvented.)
My Next Actions list fit onto a single page. Mind you, I had to shrink the items down to about 5-point type to get it that way. But I was younger then and my eyesight was still decent, so that was okay.
My Projects lists were mighty. My Someday/Maybe lists were even mightier.
I judged every day by how well I conformed to my system.
Remembered to define my Next Actions and clear out my inbox? I was a hero. Got stuck spending more than 20 minutes on a complex creative task that didn’t really lend itself to a “Next Action” framework? I’d vow to work more wisely next time.
I don’t do that anymore.
That toddler is a delightful, wise-cracking 12-year-old now. The side hustle became a thriving business that eventually became part of Rainmaker Digital. And I don’t spend hours of creatively fertile time working on my productivity system.
I was doing it wrong.
I don’t blame GTD. It wasn’t the book’s fault, and David Allen is definitely wiser than I am about this topic.
But I was spending more creative energy managing my productivity system than I was producing work. And that’s definitely doing it wrong.
There’s too much productivity advice and not enough creative output
This time of year, there’s no shortage of miracle systems being offered that will help us quit being such a disaster.
There are books and programs and classes and coaches, all vying for your attention to fix what’s horribly wrong with you.
I know this because I have long been an enthusiastic consumer of these.
But the “secret ingredient” that I found really worked wasn’t in any of those.
That “secret” was looking at the reality and individuality of who I am. My goals, my strengths, my weaknesses, and my habits aren’t anyone else’s. So someone else’s system isn’t going to work for me.
You’re probably not as messed up as you think you are
You probably aren’t even as messed up as I am. (Be thankful.)
I think we buy all of that productivity advice so that it will fix us. But we don’t need fixing.
When I started to actually produce more work, it was because I recognized that. I didn’t try to squeeze myself into someone else’s system. I took tactics from different places and put them together into my system.
That’s a process that you can get help with
Possibly, as we all head into the new year, you don’t need someone to put you into a box with everyone else and their resolutions.
Possibly you don’t need to try some kind of do-it-yourself therapy to figure out why you’re always spinning your wheels. To figure out why you’re so screwed up, or why you self-sabotage, or how to fix your insecurities when everyone else is doing great.
Possibly you just need to assess your own strengths and weaknesses, figure out what matters to you, and then decide on a handful of habits that can help you do more of the stuff you want to do.
Maybe you haven’t been spinning your wheels, after all. Maybe you’ve just been getting ready for take-off.
We’re going to have a resource that might be able to help you out with this.
Not by trying to cram you into our version of a perfect productivity system. But by helping you see yourself more clearly (and with a little more kindness), then helping you craft a simple, natural system that works for you and only you.
Because if you aren’t the secret ingredient in your productivity formula, no system is going to work for you.
It’s called our Creative Foundations course, it’s brand-new, and it helps make sure that all the content you’re creating is built on a solid foundation.
The course will be open to new students soon, so if you’re interested in joining us, just drop your information below and we’ll let you know the details. Of course we won’t spam you, or share your information with anyone else. 🙂