I read almost every book on productivity. Most of them are very, very good. Many contain terrific ideas about what you can do to be more productive, and some even provide you ideas about what to stop doing. There are big common themes throughout all of them, like identifying your priorities, blocking time, setting up systems, and delegating or outsourcing some work.
The first productivity trap is illustrated by reading books with information you already know but haven’t yet applied. All of the methodologies and processes work for the people who consistently use them. Sometimes you need more knowledge or a new methodology. But most of the time you are better off investing your time and energy in doing what needs done now.
I’ve spent countless hours moving from Omnifocus, to Things, to Todoist, and back to Omnifocus. All of these task management software programs are excellent, and each of them has some limitation that makes me long for something different. I’ve also used a half-dozen different calendars, and as many email programs, searching for a way to squeeze a little more out of a day. It’s inspiring to set up a new system. But a new system has yet to live up to my expectation.
The second productivity trap is believing that tools you use are going to make you more productive. They don’t. They can help you to be more organized. They can allow you to work in different places when they are synced with your smartphone or tablet. But they don’t do one thing to make you more productive.
The only thing that will make you more productive is doing the most meaningful and most important work you need to do to live your mission. Most everything else related to productivity is distraction.