You want to be productive. You want to be efficient. You want to get the most done in the least amount of time.
It seems there is always something "new" to make you more productive. You need to multi-task. You need to avoid multi-tasking. You need to clear things out as they come in. You need to wait and batch everything at once.
The funny thing about the "feeling" of productivity, is that I think it is easy to mistake productivity for what is really nothing more than a sense of new.
For example, person buys a new gadget to be more productive. Gadget is neat and new. User has a crush on it and feels more productive. The user has taken specific action to be more productive (bought device) and thus has an increased sense of control, adding to the "feeling" of productivity. Crush wears off and user realizes, this is just another "thing" cluttering up my life. I don't have more control over my time, I've given away a measure of control over my time to this gadget.
Furthermore, as soon as everybody buys into one approach or product someone will realize that if they come up with a reasonable argument to support the opposite, they can cash in on the change of tide.
So instead of washing back and forth with the fads, what can we do?
Basically the only way to know what makes you productive is to:
- Define your current process
- Record what you actually do
- Analyze your actual results
- Adjust to improve
In my opinion this is the only guaranteed way. We all have slightly different brains and approaches, so it is unlikely that there will ever be a golden bullet that works for all.
The "gotcha" here is that following the above 5 steps requires a fair amount of discipline and work. It's much easier to buy a book or only check email twice a day and think you are increasing your productivity.