Why Productivity Systems Don't Work
There's no one size fits all approach to productivity. Just because one system works for someone, it doesn't mean it'll work for you.
The problem with methodologies like GTD is they're systems to be applied rather than ways of thinking about work. This is great at the start when you have no system, but over time you end up spending more effort reorganising and tweaking the setup than doing the work.
Renaming and rearranging your contexts lists isn't a task to tick off, it's just a different type of procrastination. I'm becoming increasingly convinced that chaotic productivity beats organised productivity every time.
Purposely eschewing organisation in favour of chaos has a number of benefits:
- It encourages you to do the work. By making a clear choice not to create a system it gives you the freedom to focus on doing rather than organising.
- It enhances creativity. With everything in one place you don't risk siloing your ideas and you actually find it easier to make connections.
- It lets structure emerge. What we're talking about, really, is a disorganised Zettelkasten of your thoughts that maximises the opportunity for serendipity.
- It has longevity. As we change over time we need our approach to productivity and knowledge management to grow with us. Methodologies like GTD don't, which is why we keep having to constantly rebuild them.
- It's personal. What we tend to forget is that productivity and knowledge management systems are just someone else's approach. If you want to stand on the shoulders of giants you've got to rip up the rules and make your own.
What I'm advocating is a systemless approach to productivity that focuses on capture, chaos and creativity.
Using notes apps and personal wikis as your canvases, you can maximise the opportunity for serendipity and supercharge your creative output.