Bernie Anderson
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Productivity Patterns: Get Your Systems Right

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Systems.

This is how a professional football team wins games. It's also how Starbucks is able to produce the same cup of coffee anywhere in the world. And it is how car manufacturers produce thousands of vehicles every year.

Systems thinking is also how normal people like you and me can be incredibly productive.

As we understand productivity patterns, systems become the keyword. Strategic planning will not produce a productive environment without systematic execution.

The issue with the system is that no one can really teach you how to implement a system. There are a lot of different ways to accomplish the same thing. The important thing is to learn how to think in terms of systems. This requires Some “deep work” type thinking. What are the systems that are going to work best for me, my work, my contacts, and my environment?

That said, every productivity system must include the following assets.

Make the margin necessary to do the important/not urgent tasks

We’ve all heard this before. And yet every human being I know is terrible at doing the important over the urgent. If something is important and urgent we do that. It’s not hard. But, doing the important/not urgent is completely counterintuitive for most human brains. The reason it's hard is we tend to have zero margin in our lives.

I just had an email exchange with someone I never met. We are trying to set up a phone call. The thing I appreciated about this exchange is this person's inflexibility. He had impenetrable margin in his schedule and was not able to meet on my terms. I respect that. We happily set up a meeting that met our mutual framework. The meeting is important. The meeting is not urgent. It was handled well.

Make time to do the important, but not urgent, tasks.

Schedule regular reviews

The only way to know you are staying on task is through regular reviews of projects, tasks, and relationships. Review is critical and needs to be a regular part of the system. Review should be done on a daily weekly monthly and quarterly basis. The only way it will happen is with a calendar date.

Figure out your analog/digital balance

I talk about this one a lot. My particular system is both analog and digital. Everyone needs to figure out how to integrate the digital and analog parts of their lives. Technology is ubiquitous. But we must be the ones in control of our tech. Technology shouldn't rule the way we work.

Technology shouldn't rule anything.

I say this even if technology is a major part of your job.

Think systems when it comes to your productivity. It might help to ask the following questions: How will you regularly review?
How will you maintain margin so that you can do the important but not urgent tasks?
How will you use technology as a tool and not be driven by it?

Would love to hear your thoughts.