Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Not everything is a task

To me ‘Productivity’ is an interesting topic. There was a time that I was desperately looking for ways to be (more) productive. How do I manage my work as a knowledge worker? At the beginning of my working life I found I had a hard time structuring my work, showing progress, etc. I also found I was given little tools during university to help me be productive in my work life. I knew how to make sure I passed exams, but working on an open project with vague goals…?

What really helped me was David Allen’s book ‘Getting things done’. I love this book. His methodology gave me all the tools I need to get things done.

I still am a sucker for productivity tips and tools. And I’ll share things I find on productivity regularly.

As you know Allen’s advice is to make a task out of everything you need to get done. When you’ve captured your tasks, there’s room for flow. And this is true, it works for me.

But I have been wondering for years now: what’s the true productivity gain? Capturing and doing tasks or the space that capturing and doing tasks frees up? Or, in a different way: is everything a task?

I also ask this because there is a methodology to improve websites that is called top-task management. It focuses solely on making websites more task-oriented, to improve our website visitor’s productivity.

And, again, I agree, websites need to be improved. Focusing on task is one way to do this. But sometimes it seems to be preached as the only way. ‘Everything is a task.’ But is it? I’ve written a shallow critique on this here.

Then I recently bumped into this post on the wonderful Inc.com platform. This post cites the Flickr founder Catherine Fake:

There's too much emphasis on productivity in the factory, Ford-assembly-line sense of cranking something out and not enough emphasis on having ideas.
Or, in other words in a different article, Linda Stone says:
It's time to rethink productivity. More output, produced faster may be great metrics for machines, but for homo sapiens, the most powerful metric is engagement. Engagement is about process, outcomes, and quality. Engagement values the methods and the results versus focusing completely on the output.
So, not only tasks, but also ideas. An idea is not a task. And not only tasks but also engagement. Tasks do get in the way of ideas and engagement though. So, should we do our tasks first to make room for ideas and engagement?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!

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