The Whys Of Productivity

The Whys Of Productivity

Throughout all the years that I have been writing about productivity and researching productivity, I see a lot of articles on the “how”.

But knowing how to do something isn’t enough if you want to expand on it.

As a math teacher, I know it isn’t enough to have students memorize formulas. They have to be able to understand why a formula works if they are to be able to apply it.

As I was considering this, I decided to revamp and expand a series on the “Whys of Productivity”. Over the next few weeks, I will look at the similar basics to several productivity systems and dig down into the “whys” behind each method.

My hope is that this series will help people figure out what works and what doesn’t work for them for any given system, and why, so that each may form a system hybrid that works, instead of getting caught of the trap of looking for the “perfect system”.

The Difference Between Theory and Practice

In theory, theory and practice are the same thing.

In practice, theory and practice are widely different.

We can only understand how to put something in practice if we understand the theory behind it.

If we are told that plants need water, theory would ask how much water to apply, and then go out and apply it. But in practice, we know that it’s not just enough to apply a certain amount of water. We also have to know to add or subtract the amount based on the moisture in the soil. We also need to know what time of day to water the plants to avoid attracting fungus.

In other words, we need to understand they why of adding water to the plant in order to be able to adjust the amount and get the best outcome.

A Foolish Consistency

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” — Emerson

I’ve seen many people’s productivity systems over the years. And I am always baffled by the majority of them. Each one of those systems that puzzles me has a section that either doesn’t get used or gets used in a way that is not helpful to the person maintaining the system.

I’ve started asking why people keep using systems that have parts that don’t work for them. “Why do you never fill out the schedule?” “Why are you storing your tasks in your calendar?”

The answers are always “because that’s what the system says to do.”

One of the reasons I maintain separate work and personal planner notebooks is because the types of information I track is different in both places. For work, I rarely have tasks that need to be done on a given day; my work is more project based. For personal, I need to track my tasks, but don’t have to track meeting decisions; rarely do I attend a meeting that is not strictly informative.

I use the parts of the Bullet Journal system that suit the information I am trying to track. Blindly following the suggestions in the book wouldn’t work for me in either place.

Do you understand enough about your procedures and systems to be able to truly adapt them? Or are you just following the instructions blindly?

1 Comment

  1. shahar levy

    You make me curious

    I already know the importance of knowing why you doing what you doing, but never related it to productivity

    Looking forward to your ‘why’ productivity series

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