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The secret to productivity.

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

I unashamedly love a to-do list.

I read an article a few weeks back on LinkedIn, written by someone who despises to-do lists, and had found back-up from a productivity expert, who describes the practice of using to-do lists as harmful to productivity.

Respectfully, I disagree. I don't disagree with the author's assertion that they despise to-do lists, I'm sure they do. And it may well be an unhelpful and unproductive tool for them, and indeed for many others.

The article promoted, instead, the approach of assigning a set amount of time on one's calendar to a particular task, and then moving on at the end of that time, whether the task is completed or not.

And adjusting the time-block as you learn how long a specific task takes. An example given was that if you set aside (say) 30 minutes to go through your emails every morning, you’ll at least know this is how long you’ve got to deal with this task. If you don’t finish in time, says the author, that’s fine, come the following morning you’ll be able to re-assess and make adjustments accordingly.

I have a problem with this. Going through my emails doesn't take a set amount of time. It varies hugely according to what day it is, and how many people have decided to email me overnight. And so – for me – it makes much more sense to have "clean out my email inbox" as a task on my to-do list. It will take a varied amount of time to complete, and in fact I may need to defer it and finish it another time, but I don't need a calendar-enforced deadline to prompt that.

I use a brilliant to-do list app, which allows me to easily prioritise certain tasks on certain days, and stay on top of my daily list with swipes to the right and left, adjusting the day's task-list on the fly.

However, the approach of blocking out a chunk of time for things does seem like a great one. And I think I can utilise that more in my own working processes than I currently do.

But that concept of moving on at the end of the time-block, whether the task is finished or not, is anathema to some people, including me.

I am confident that the secret to achieving good productivity is not to decry one method or another, or promote one method as being the one-size-fits-all solution. There are very few of those around in life (apart from Lycra shorts, perhaps).

The secret to productivity – for me – will quite likely be different from what it is for you. And so the way to unlock your productivity is to know yourself – how you’re wired, how you think, and how you achieve a balanced and efficient workflow in your own working life.

There are many tools that offer that kind of insight to you. The Kendall Life Languages Profile™ is one of those. Doer™ is one of the seven communication styles defined in the KLLP.

People who speak the Doer language fluently tend to be practical, diligent, detailed, and trustworthy. They love finishing tasks.

And – conversely – Doers who are repeatedly not allowed to (or don't allow themselves to) finish the task in front of them, will find they are in almost constant distress, and not productive.

People who are natural ‘Doers’ in life will LOVE their to-do list, and love crossing tasks off it.

But whether they love it unashamedly or not will depend on whether they accept themselves for who they are, and aren’t constantly trying to measure up to someone else’s standard.

In this, Life Languages™ is hugely valuable. Life becomes much simpler and peaceful when you accept how you're wired, and it becomes much more productive when you put that knowledge to work for you.

Why not take your profile today?

Andrew Quinn, Nov 2020

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