My Journey to Productivity

The following is a guest post by André Benrubi. I had the pleasure of meeting André on a recent trip to Hamilton to visit family, and we had a great time over dinner chatting about productivity, technology and all things in between. He’s launched a new website called ProductivPad, and I asked him if he’d like to share some of his thoughts on productivity here with you. He graciously accepted…and here it is. You can also follow André on Twitter.

I, like many of Mike’s readers, have been fascinated by the opportunities technology has to offer to those wishing to become more productive. I have always had this need (my wife would say obsession) to try and find easier ways of doing things. However, that also means that while trying to fine-tune certain workflows or create new ones, I end up trying all kinds of solutions. Some of them are my own machinations, while others find their origins in various things I read on the web. So, one might say that at least in the short term, I am not being very productive, but in the long term I am (or at least I hope I am).

I often attribute my successes and failures to my imagination getting ahead of technology. Often, the technology I was using was still in its infancy, and additional development was needed prior to it being useful (the need for longer battery life, lack of software to carry out specific tasks, etc.).

I’ve now reached the stage where the planets have aligned themselves, and thanks to Apple and some very talented iOS software developers, I now have a workable system. That does not mean I have stopped thinking about changing how I do things, or what tools I use to carry out these tasks. It simply means that I’ve reached a stage where instead of overhauling my systems, I only need to tweak them…at least for the time being.

It is important to remember in all of this that since its release just over two years ago, (April 30, 2010 in the U.S., later in other countries) there are now over 200,000 iPad apps available — and the number grows daily. At last count I owned 277 of these apps. Any way you look at it, that represents a lot of apps.

At present however, I have less than 100 loaded on my iPad. And only a dozen get heavy daily use.

The pace at which these apps are being released into the market (or updated) has led to apps leapfrogging each other in terms of features. As a result, I have found that there are times that I switch from one app to another (e.g., writing apps) simply because one app has provided something I was looking for that the previous app I favoured still hadn’t brought onto the scene. As others I follow have also mentioned, the key is to limit oneself to using common formats (plain text/markdown, OPML, PDF, etc.) in combination with cloud storage syncing solutions such as iCloud and Dropbox. Consequently, sticking to these for most documents gives me the flexibility to access my data from anywhere (desktop, iPad, web) using my app of choice.

Overall, I now find myself in a happy place. At the urging of some of my colleagues, I’ve recently launched ProductivPad, a website that provides me with an outlet to share my own experiences, particularly as they apply to teaching. I hope others will find the information useful, and that it will give them food for thought as they develop their own systems.

Photo credit: Hartwig HKD (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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