Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

One Size Doesn't Fit All

That sounds like a given. But it’s not. Far too many people expect one thing —whether that’s a system or a tool — to do everything for everyone, to be everything to everyone. Productivity tools and systems are no exception.

And assuming that one tool or system will do everything for you is an assumption that you should never, ever make.

I view productivity, or any other, systems and tools in much the same way I do do martial arts. No two people use them in the same way, or do things in the same way. Because of your size or body type or physical limitations, you adapt and adopt (consciously or not) the techniques to better suit you. For me, that’s what Bruce Lee meant when he said absorb what is useful.

For example, taller martial artists will tend to use their reach and high kicks more, while shorter ones will try to close the gap and/or use lower kicks. Physically stronger martial artists might rely heavily on power striking and throwing/slamming techniques. Weaker (relatively speaking) martial artists, on the other hand, will generally use parrying and evasion techniques and multiple strikes to wear down their opponents.

The same goes for productivity tools and systems. You can tout the benefits of, for example, GTD or Evernote all you want. But no two people will use them in the same way.

And they won’t get the same results. Some people will be able to use those tools and systems get more done. Others won’t. Folks who fall into the latter category might, however, be able to streamline their processes and workflows so that can do things more efficiently. That, in itself, is a worthwhile goal. In fact, in more than a few cases, doing things more efficiently is preferable to doing more.

How a system or a tool works for you and how easily you can adapt it into your life and/or workflow is what matters. Nothing else. Not the need to follow the system to the letter. Not trying to use a tool in a way that others do, but which might not be right for you. Not the trappings of the system or tool.

Being productive isn’t about the system or tool you adopt. It’s not about how much other people are doing. It’s not about the assembly line nature of some peoples’ so-called productivity. And if you only use certain aspects of a system or a tool, rather than following it to the letter or trying to use all of its features, that’s fine. That’s all you need. Nothing more.

In that end, it’s all about what you do, how that system or tool helps you achieve your goals, and how well that system or tool works for you.

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