Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Productivity Patterns: The Right Tools

It's possible to say, "I'm into woodworking," when, in reality, you're just into collecting tools.

There are many people who say "I am a writer," when their reality is collecting books about writing (I've been guilty of this).

To learn the craft of woodworking, get a jointer or a planer, and master it.

To write well, read "Bird by Bird" and start writing. Daily. Master the craft. Then worry about books and tools.

People follow similar patterns when it comes to productivity.

There are many productivity tools. It's an industry. Productivity, Inc.

You can use digital tools like OmniFocus and Things or Google Calendar or BusyCal. Digital tools are helpful because they allow your lists and appointments and meetings to be ubiquitous. And there are reminders and notifications. That's good. The problem with digital tools is often times the learning curve. Digital can be complicated. And complication often means abandonment, leading to a wasteland of downloaded, unused apps.

You can use fancy analog tools. Go to and search for planners. You get 60,000 results. Every brain thinks differently. Some will be useful to you and some will not be.

It could be that the best and most effective tool for productivity is a legal pad. It’s simple. It’s portable. It’s easy to use.

In fact, I am suspicious a legal pad is enough for most.

We simply need to keep a list. That’s it. Projects and tasks should be written down. Because, if something is not written down it will likely fall into oblivion.

That's the one productivity power skill many people fail to master. When you think of it, write it down. Immediately. In a consistent and trusted system.

Productivity systems should be simple enough that they’re used. It doesn't get simpler than pen and paper.

Find what works for you and master it, lest the chaotic stress pattern returns.

For what it’s worth I am currently using OmniFocus combined with Michael Hyatt‘s Full Focus Planner. It’s probably more complex than what it needs to be. But I am invested in OmniFocus (I’ve had the software for years) and Hyatt's planner suits my way of note-taking. I am a fan of the digital/analog combo.