What Did I Learn During My Productivity Deep Dive

Since I started living more than the Ground Hog Day style of existence back in January. That miserable feeling of going through the motions just enough to get by each day, but not really doing a whole lot else.

Photo from Osvil & Florence Elston Photo Album

While it feels good to leave that lethargy behind, it is also time to look back a little to reflect on a few things that I learned on this productivity deep dive.

I went deeply into many of those Internet rabbit warrens (not just holes) about productivity and have finally emerged, somewhat dusty and feeling a bit used.

What did I learn?

  • Not as much has changed in the world of productivity as I thought would be the case. Many of today’s productivity ideas and products stand on the shoulders of Allen’s Getting Things Done and Covey’s Effective Habits. Who had built upon Demming’s Total Quality Management and the lessons learned from manufacturing during World War II. Along with things thrown in from others along the way. Minor changes in terminology or vocabulary to make it sound more modern. 
  • The technology available on personal and professional levels is the biggest change. The computer and proliferation of apps (software), takes care of the more mundane parts of keeping track of things to help us stay productive. Although at times, it seems that pen & paper still have a place in this world.
  • Knowing how to make smart(er) notes and building a Personal Knowledge Management system are becoming more and more necessary as we have access to the knowledge of the world at our fingertips. Although the ideas surrounding many of these knowledge management efforts are not new, look at the Zettelkasten Method or the good old Dewey Decimal system among others. I did learn and honestly, I knew this before I started this deep dive, that we can’t keep all the “stuff” that we encounter over the course of a day, week, or month inside our heads. 
  • This has led to the creation of note-taking apps that are becoming referred to by many as Second Brains. It is the new generations of these note-taking apps that are driving changes in how we store and access all this information that is available.
  • The variety, features, and number of different productivity apps are bewildering. There are many designs, user interfaces, and features that these new (and older) apps possess that finding the ones that work best for your needs and workflows takes more than a little time and trial, along with a lot of error.
  • That there is a new generation of entrepreneurs, errr thought leaders who are working and relevant in what is becoming known as the Personal Knowledge Management segment. They are very good at what they do. A few that come immediately to mind are Tiago Forte, Nick Milo, Khe Hy, Lawrence Yao, and David Perrell. I would include author Ryan Holiday on this quick list.
  • There is nothing wrong with an old guy, learning lessons from the young guns. I have learned a great deal from watching their videos and reading their writings. Although I might use the information differently than how they might have thought it would be used. My needs as a 60-something, are going to be different than how a 30-something sees and does things in their lives or uses all this new technology.

My takeaways

I have learned a lot during this deep dive into becoming more productive. Going forward technology, and how we use it, will determine many things in our lives.

The biggest thing is that we (at any age) need to be willing to try new things, be flexible with the knowledge we accumulate and more willing to learn from non-traditional sources. Which tend to move more rapidly than academia seems to in most instances. Although the world still puts tremendous importance on the credentials that Academia bestows upon its favored minions, err students.

In the coming years, it will be those who can think beyond the box, write succinctly, tell a great story, and not be intimidated by the new technology that will be coming our way, that will do fine.

The ones who will have difficulty are the ones who are mired in “we have always done it this way” or those who refuse to learn the new skills that will be pertinent in tomorrow’s world, not just today’s.

Me…at this point in life, I am comfortable observing, and commenting with a zinger here or there to have some fun, keep learning new stuff, and enjoy life I have as best as I can. 

How about you, what excites you about the possibilities in front of us. 

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