Why and How to Be More Like an Aircraft Carrier and Less Like a Speed Boat

Because of the proliferation of productivity apps, methods, and “lifehacks,” we face constant temptations to tinker with our productivity workflows.

This morning, I almost ate the fruit. 

I use Omnifocus. I love Omnifocus. But 2Do, another popular task management app, is free for the next few days on iOS. So naturally, when I read about this, I had to download and play around with it. I really like it. In fact, it has features I miss in Omnifocus. For a few minutes, I wondered if I should replace Omnifocus with 2Do. 

But rightfully (I think), I decided not to. Here's why. 

Of course, it is critical to “learn-by-doing” and tinker with our productivity workflows and systems from time-to-time. System tinkering—done well—improves efficiency. However, we must avoid over-indulging in the deluge of “productivity porn.” This is easier said than done because system-tinkering makes us feel productive, even when we aren't. Our minds are fooling us!

So how to overcome this? 

The only solution I can come up with is thinking in terms of inputs and outputs

Inputs include: what you learn, how you setup your workflow, what tools you use, etc. 

Outputs include: the book you write, the lessons you apply in the real-world, what you accomplish with your tools, etc. 

And it is only the outputs that really matter. 

If we mindfully think in terms of outputs first and foremost, we will be less tempted to tinker with our inputs unless it is clear a tweak will likely improve the quality or quantity of the output. 

But if we find ourselves thinking primarily in terms of inputs without considering the outcomes we actually want, then we are most likely over-indulging in the latest fads, and fooling ourselves. 

The evolution of a workflow should be more like an aircraft carrier changing direction and less like a speed boat in unregulated waters. 


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