Your productivity setup is fine the way it is

Nat Eliason recently abandoned most of the productivity advice he used to recommend.

Nat’s tweet is a reminder that there is no productivity silver bullet. Even more so, you don’t need a plethora of fancy tools to be productive. You can’t buy your way into getting more of the right things done.

A good productivity setup will help you stay organized but won’t make your actual work any easier.

Case in point, upgrading from an Intel to an Apple Silicon MacBook Pro will shrink your build time, but it won’t make it any easier to write code. You still need to do all the thinking.

Find a setup that works for you, then lean into it and focus on doing the work. Once you cover the productivity bases, any tooling change will deliver only marginal improvements.

I don’t have a well-formulated collection of what “the bases” are. The best I can offer is a rough list. In no particular order:

  • Capture information outside your brain into a trusted system that is easy to query and review periodically.
  • Do not multitask, in particular when working on your main projects.
  • Complete the current task before starting on a new one.
  • Avoid context switching as much as you can.
  • Know your values and prioritize accordingly.
  • Rest.

Many people focus on the trusted system part of their setup, jumping from one new app to the other. I get it. Enticing marketing and community hype can make you believe that the next app will be the one to finally help you stay on top of things. Been there, done that. In my experience, you’ll get a more pleasant UX and a slight percentage improvement at best.

By all means, try new apps if you want to, but don’t expect that to suddenly make it easier to get your job done.

As Nat put it, don’t put the tool before the craft. Don’t let the allure of tweaking your setup distract you from showing up and doing the work.

Cover image by JESHOOTS.COM via Unsplash.

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