For years of my life I have been consuming the worst kind of blog posts. You know the ones - “successful people do this” or “10 task manager tricks to make you better”. I’ve read so many of these that Pocket surfaces what seems like every version of them on the planet. I’ve watched hundreds of videos on the subject, spent loads of money on apps, and caused my self so much stress. All because I wanted to be better, do more, and I was convinced the secret was out there somewhere.

Whilst putting the world to rights on the Outline podcast, Daryl asked me if I am ever happy with my set up. Of course the answer is no! I am never happy and constantly try and improve my productivity and set up. - Greg Morris, The Strange World Of Productivity Set Up Videos.

When all along there was a pretty simple word that allowed me to be more productive, actually achieve more, and work much smarter. That word was NO - and it came as a reply to many questions that started with the phrase “could you just”.

You see I could “just do this” and “see if I could do that” but in reality I couldn’t do anything more than I already did. It wasn’t more tasks I needed, it was better tasks and a higher outcome from them. There is no quick and easy step, there is no golden secret waiting in all of these posts. If there were tips around to suddenly ‘turbocharge’ your productivity then everyone would know it, and there would be no need for literally millions of words on the subject.

I am a robot, programmed to obliterate my to-do list. - David Sbarra, I trained myself to be less busy — and it dramatically improved my life

Ditched GTD

The first step was to get rid of my habit of writing everything into my task manger. I know people swear by the Getting Things Done principles, but if it’s in the task list it feels as though you now have to do it. That’s not to say don’t write down things that you may forget, but actually think about what you are putting in there.

Should I be doing this? Who should be doing this? What is the benefit to me? What is the benefit to a larger goal?

If it simply doesn’t seem relevant, it doesn’t go in, simple. I’ve become much more focused on Essentialism, and surprisingly managed to squeeze more into my day. Simply because I’ve said no to things that are not going to benefit me or those around me, or that I simply can get out of doing. I’ve learnt to focus my time onto things that really need doing, and filled in the smaller tasks around me.