Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Productivity and My Complicated Relationship With OmniFocus

There is an ebb and flow to productivity systems, and it's important to adjust accordingly.

Five years ago, I had a lot on my plate. Too much, really. We were living overseas. I had layered responsibilities which required nimble movement between creative work, people work, and administrative work. Plus, I was working on my Master's degree at the time. I had to develop necessary systems to accomplish this.

I'm not proud of the fact. But, at that time, I was too busy for my own good. In spite of knowing better.

But systems were in place, and, through trial and error, I found what worked for me.

I remember a rather ceremonious moment on our way back to America. We were flying business class from South Korea to Prague. I went through my Omnifocus app and deleted all my projects and all my contexts. (OmniFocus is a tool I used prolifically in those days.) Life was changing. So must my system.

When the plane landed in Prague, I had no more responsibilities. It was almost cathartic.

Things changed upon return to life in America. Life became more two-dimensional. Personal and work. OmniFocus, as a productivity tool, was like trying to use a high-end, professionally specced-out computer to browse the Internet. Overkill.

My systems became simple lists (often analog lists) and my calendar.

However, life is getting complex again - as life often does. I need focus in a variety of areas.

Looking to reboot OmniFocus as I once again need tools for multi-dimensional productivity. So thinking about productivity tools this week.

"Growing Gills" is a great little book for getting focus and being productive the context of creative work. 

But thinking of them with great caution.

Productivity tools are important.

But they're also not the most important.

Just because you have a fancy hammer doesn't mean you know how to build a skyscraper. Or a doghouse.

Figure out the system you need now. Today. Given your current situation.

And adjust when necessary.

I like what David Allen says about this:

You have to think about your stuff more than you realize but not as much as you’re afraid you might.
— David Allen