On Doing What Really Needs Doing

I was reading Craig Jarrow’s post today over at Time Management Ninja and it got me thinking about simplifying systems. I know I need to dive back in and toss aside some tools, clear some of the clutter, and pare things down on the whole. And it’d be really easy to do that instead of bearing down and getting the important stuff done first.

If you’re thinking about purging some of your apps, stop first and think about what really needs doing first. Get the work done first, then evaluate how you’ve been doing the work and see what you can do to improve it. That can be the removal of a tool, the addition of a tool, or perhaps the adoption or abandonment of a strategy. Regardless, get what really needs doing done first, then worry about making the next thing’s “doing part” better.

My wife and I often run across this kind of thing when we use an app or service in tandem. Calendars would be a great example of this. We not only think about calendars differently, but we think about how they fit into our workflow differently. Neither way is wrong, but we need to make sure that we find cohesion so that there are fewer hiccups in our integrated calendars. Establishing these safeguards will take time, so we’ll set aside some time to do this when we take care of the things we use the calendars (and task managers, where applicable) for first. By recognizing this, we’re being productive instead of spending our time “doing” productive.

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Set up your system and tools.
  2. Set forth to accomplish what you’re using your system and tools to do.
  3. Set aside time to fine tune the system and tools afterward.

It’s the order of the list above that is crucial. You want to use your time as optimally as possible, and keeping this arranged in order will help you do just that.

Sometimes you won’t be able to do it in this order, especially if you’re not working independently in some aspects of your work and life. But do your best to make it happen when you can. It can make a huge difference in your productivity.

(Chris Brogan has a great post on how to get more done over at his blog. He also just so happens to be the guest on this week’s episode of Mikes on Mics — where he does his an impression of his Impact Equation co-author, Julien Smith .)