The Road to Personalized Productivity – The Problem

The Road to Personalized Productivity

I have been through more than my fair share of productivity and organizational systems throughout my school and adult years. Each one promises a new level of understanding and claims to provide an easier way to organize the “stuff” in your life so that you can get to work with minimal hassle.

Though many people can easily choose one method and get that to stick, I have a harder time grafting the newfound habits and knowledge into my day-to-day life, thereby defeating any and all benefit that I would have seen if I was able to give it my all.

There is no one thing in my personality and style that prevents me from achieving to my potential, but rather a group of many different traits that work together to topple any attempt at making a change for the better.

My problem with many systems is that they are not my system.

The Long and Winding Road

I have come a long way to get to where I am now in terms of productivity. Though I do struggle daily, I am able to make a little bit of progress, where just a few years ago, I would be completely stagnate, perfectly happy to let opportunity pass me by without a second thought.

Many things in my life have changed from that time of 100% procrastination: I found my soul mate, have had two children and have been through many jobs.

Even through these changes, I still struggle very hard to overcome all of the little things that keep me from achieving the goals that I set for myself and my life.

But it seems that every stride I take into the forward arena is met with two strides backward. It has been a very long road to get to where I am today, and as far as I can tell, there is an even longer road ahead.

Tools of the Trade

Each of the tools I have been through has excelled in some area of getting me to do what needs to be done. But in the end, each one has stumbling points which make it hard to keep going. Rather than seeing this as a failing for each of the tools, I see it more as a failing of myself.

As a member of Homo Sapiens, I have the ingrown need to organize everything in my life. Viewing my workspace would lead you in the opposite direction of thought, but this is more because of a lack of faith in any one system, or in myself. I cannot find a system that works 100%, so I tend to give up.

This attitude keeps me from finishing the myriad projects and ideas that spill from my brain on a daily basis. I often begin a project at full steam, only to find myself losing motivation and inspiration without completing any significant portion.

This thought fragmentation causes my attention to be pulled in all directions, whether consciously or subconsciously. With my brain in full throttle multitasking among infinite tasks, I lose the ability to do any one task to the best of my ability.

Learned Responses

It was impressed on me at a certain age while growing up in public school that it was not necessary to push myself to the limits intellectually to successfully navigate my way to a high school diploma. This learned behavior has caused me to hold myself back time after time.

I am not specifically blaming the school system, I take full responsibility for the habit. But I am going to briefly blame the school system for not being able to tailor itself to the needs of the individual child, and creating a way to break these bad habits that will create terrible workers in the future. The main issue with the school systems seem to be that they tailor to the “average” students. That leaves those “above average” students to their own devices, and if they do not realize early on that they will get no proper education through the school system and take things into their own hands, they will most likely become part of the “slacker” community. (This is based on my own experience, as well as some of my former classmates.)

The Series

In order to work through the ideas that I am rounding out, I will be presenting a series of posts with the general theme “The Road to Personalized Productivity.” This will not be some epic series of posts that will inform the world of how wrong they are. This will be more to work through some of the ideas and concepts that I am beginning to realize about myself.

My hope is that by presenting these ideas in posts 1,000 words or less, maybe I can promote some introspection in my readers, and help all of us through the process of learning how better to get things done.

If you are not interested in this sort of thing, space out for a few weeks, and come on back to see what happens. But I invite you to sit down and read through these writings and try to find some way to apply the concepts to your own situation. And more importantly, share any insight you have into how you are, or were working through these very same issues by leaving comments, writing trackback posts, or even just chatting it up on your favorite social network.


Does this sound like a good/bad idea to you? Would you like to add some insight to these thoughts and pages? Hit the “Contact Me” page in the top navigation and send me your thoughts.

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  • Rich

    Jeez Ben, you practically described me to a tee. I cold have easily written this word for word about myself …..with maybe a few adjustments on incites.

    As for myself, I have the same issues. I am described as entrepreneurial creative engineer with imaginative overtones, ‘out of the box’ thinking that give way to inventive side effects culminating in a manically inclined inclinations of drifting with the drifters with unrealized savant level capabilities and documented Mensa range intelligence. That being said, I tend to be a perfectionist and also need to have everything perfectly organized. Although you wouldn’t realize it from my personal spaces.

    I also have similar thoughts and feeling about the school systems in America but don’t blame the teachers, but the system in general for its ‘cookie cutter’, ‘one size fits all’ system that is ineffectual for the above average or the below average. If kids with certain need could be identified early then somewhere, someday along the way a system could be devised and programs or procedures could be implemented to cater to these needs and produce many fold better results not just for the child, but for society as a whole.

    I come from an atmosphere that promoted the idea of futility to better oneself in a world that we find ourselves in, in terms of better education and better jobs or careers equal better quality of life and work hard to devise and design a life that is outstanding. Instead, my atmosphere was more geared toward, ‘do the average and have an average life and just be honest and have integrity and everything will be added to you since life goes by fast and is too short to worry too much and spend too much time designing and planning and furthering education and then it suddenly ends.’ So, I struggled with that ingrained thought and about how much is too much and too little and what are the most important things life and what are not so important.

    I also lack a measure of personal productivity along with the feeling of a need to have high efficiency in most areas of my life. One thing that hinders personal productivity is having a work space and personal space of clutter and disarray. You made a statement, ” I cannot find a system that works 100%, so I tend to give up.” which is a way I never thought of it but sums up my thoughts and feelings on it perfectly. But different from you, I think I lack faith in any ONE system because of the fact that none of them work perfectly 100% which is what I feel I need or at least think in my mind I need. Many times I start a clean-up project to sort and file and after a couple hours I take a break to do something else only to find a couple weeks later I am reminded that I never finished the what I started. Other business project, less personal, I do the same but only because I am thinking of a thousand things on any given day and am pulled in many directions. I start a project and may go strong for 4-5 days, slow to a simmer for maybe 2-3 weeks if it is interesting enough. But, then get sidetracked by 6-8 other projects or areas of research to take up my time. Thus like you, I can’t bring myself to focus on any particular thing long enough to see it through and thus don’t realize any potential in any one area.

    Nonetheless, I am constantly reminding myself of the pitfalls and inefficiencies of disorganization and how that counters the efforts of personal productivity and goal realization and life effectiveness. I keep telling myself that one day real soon I will get ultra organized thus enabling me to become ultra effective and efficient. But that day never comes as I too often realize the dozens or hundreds of hours I would spend devising the perfect or if not that, close to perfect system which seams in itself not too efficient and effective to spend that mush time getting there. After all, many times I have gotten somewhat organized, only to find my life and personal and work space back in disarray weeks or a couple months down the road. So, what the use. Seams to be an exercise in futility, the description of which should be hidden somewhere in the definition of ineffectiveness, unproductive or inefficient. And so it goes …….