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

Does It Advance Your Goals?

Until recently, I rode the bus each morning to my day job. The bus stop is about a three minute walk from my apartment, and at 6:55 a.m. there isn’t much traffic at the intersection that I needed to cross.

Having said that, even when there were no cars in sight, I never hustled across that intersection when there was a red light. Someone once asked me why, to which I replied Doing that wouldn’t advance my goal. In that case, the goal was catching my bus. Which was due in three minutes or so, and was nowhere to be seen while I was waiting. I wouldn’t have saved any time: I’d still be waiting, only this time at the bus stop.

Nothing lost, nothing gained.

But far too often, I see people jumping on one bandwagon or another without thinking about how (if at all) it will advance their goals.

It seems that every week, there’s some new productivity app or technique that some guru or expert touts as the way to increase your productivity, to help you do more in the time you have, to help you better use all those hours in the day.

In many cases, though, people who adopt those solutions find them disappointing. Those apps and techniques don’t live up to the hype.

Before you adopt (or even just investigate) any new technique, system, or application ask yourself these questions:

  • How, if at all, will this advance my goals?
  • What can this do that the tools or systems or techniques that I use can’t?
  • Do I need to change the way I do things, or force them into a new framework?
  • Will the time I spend adapting to this new system or technique or tool be worth it?

If, after answering those questions, you still think it’s worthwhile delving deeper then jump in. Spend two weeks with the app or system. Note the positives and negatives. Then, at the end of two weeks, decide whether to continue with it.

For the most part, I find that after asking those four questions I have no desire to delve into something. It’s not because I’m a hater or afraid of something new. It’s because I can’t find a compelling reason to make the shift. As I’ve said in the past, I prefer to tweak and not hack, and don’t think I need to shoehorn my way of doing things into someone else’s system.

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