Why You Need a Productivity Gestalt

Yesterday I had a great conversation with Matt Medeiros for his site, Matt Report. We went into a number of things (all of which will be revealed when he releases the episode in a couple of weeks), but one of the questions was about the tools I use as part of my productivity practice. I rhymed off some of the different apps I use, including 30/30, My Minutes, OmniFocus, and more. I also talked about a method I’m using on paper. When I was done, Matt was either impressed or bewildered (perhaps both). That’s because when you look at what I use it appears daunting.
And it is…at first.

Make no mistake, there are certain apps that have dropped from my regular practice, while some have been traded for others. You see, each item in my workflow can help me be productive individually, but together they can really power up my productivity. I tend to think my “productivity gestalt” is what helps me get the best out of what I do.

For those of you that don’t know what a “gestalt” is, think back to Voltron, Transformers, or Power Rangers — the term was adopted by fans to describe the combined forms of the vehicles or robots on teams (like the Aerialbots and Constructicons, for example).

Let’s look at Voltron, for example. Individually the lions that make up the Voltron team have power, but when they combine they are even more powerful, – in fact, nearly unstoppable. Each of the team members brings something to the table – a specialization that makes the gestalt a well-rounded machine. These workflow apps do the same for me. They help make me a well-rounded machine.

I’d say that OmniFocus is the leader of my team. It is where everything begins and ends. The other apps are integral, but without OmniFocus they can’t connect. The task manager is the leader – and it should be. It informs the other parts first, then they inform it when needed – and in a way that helps the task manager move in the right direction on a consistent basis.

The other aspect of the task manager that makes it the leader is that it is capable of doing the most on its own. I know I couldn’t manage all of what I need – and want – to do with 30/30 or My Minutes. But I can do so with OmniFocus (and I’m not alone on that front).

My productivity gestalt won’t be like yours. Just as there are different teams of Transformers who become gestalts and different Zords in the Power Rangers universe, there are different apps and tools that make up productivity gestalts (I’ve even gone through several in my time). The idea is to have one, though. Whether it is made up of three tools or five tools, whether it is built with digital tools, analog tools, or a combination of both…you need to have one.

What you build it with is up to you.