Get your ideas out of your mind.
Most of us don’t have problems coming up with ideas. We have problems sorting, organizing, and filtering through the ideas we come up with.
The first step to decluttering your mind is writing everything down. Use a yellow legal pad, notebook, or whiteboard. You can use whatever you want, so long as it’s an analog (and not a digital) tool.
Once you’re sure you’ve emptied your mind of ideas, file them away. If you’re using a whiteboard, take a picture of your brainstorm, put it in Dropbox, and clear the whiteboard.
Now that your mind is clear, you can focus on the goals that are in front of you.
Some leaders end up going back and forth on systems or open door.
“Systems didn’t work last quarter,” they say, “let’s get rid of them.” So, they go back to an open-door policy by default, not realizing that’s what they’re doing. They may have the intention of setting up new systems, but they vastly underestimate how much time or effort this is going to take.
You can have it one way, but you can’t have it both.
You can’t take away systems and expect your team not to come knocking at your door requesting email bulletins, meeting times, deadlines and due dates, expense accounts, anything, and everything in between.
You may have a blanket answer for them – “just check our team Dropbox.” But in the absence of systems, your team will default to asking you for guidance. Self-serve is not an option.
In your mind, Dropbox may be the system, but you don’t have systems to manage the system, so it’s a moot point.
Don’t blame your team if they don’t make it to meetings, don’t know when something is supposed to be done by, or don’t have the links to the team Dropbox that was supposed to go out last week. You’ve adopted an open-door policy by letting go of systems. You are the system now.
You can choose systems, or you can choose open door. Both are valid. But where one is largely self-directed, the other will require your input at all hours, any hour of the day. Always know which you’re choosing.
Due to my nomadic status, I have officially embraced a primarily digital workflow in 2023. I wouldn’t say I’ve gone “paper free,” but being able to check up on the status of a project from anywhere has become critical. Having key documents in the cloud makes it easy for me to keep tabs on what I’m up to, no matter where I am in the world.
All that to say, my productivity tool stack has evolved a little since last year. Here’s what I’m now using.
iPhone 13 Pro Max
I stuck with my Samsung Galaxy S7 since 2016. But in May 2022, I finally decided to upgrade.
I wasn’t sure which phone I’d ultimately pick, but I was leaning towards the iPhone because of its camera. And, in the end, the iPhone won.
So far, I couldn’t be any happier with this choice. Adapting to the workflow didn’t take long, and since it is a brand-new phone, it’s a lot faster and smoother than my previous device, and it has a bigger screen too.
From social media and Kindle to Notes and Gmail, I find I’m able to do a lot more on my phone than I was previously able, whether scheduling meetings, documenting ideas, or reading Kindles.
My iPhone is my go-to tool for capturing video too.
iPad & Apple Pencil
Hard to believe – my iPad & Apple Pencil have been with me since 2019. But somehow, they still feel new to me.
I have used this combo extensively for journaling and digital art. I like to read Kindles on my iPad as well.
I like that I can sync up my iPad with my new iPhone, and even my older MacBook Pro. Make no mistake, though – I’m still a hybrid PC / Mac user.
Evernote is out and ClickUp is in.
Not that I don’t like Evernote, but for some reason it has fallen off my radar more times than I can count. If it doesn’t stay in my workflow, it usually means there is too much friction to using it.
ClickUp is a thorough project management tool, but I basically use it as my digital to-do list.
As with ClickUp, Notion can be used as a comprehensive project management tool (though I think ClickUp does to-do lists better).
I find Notion works best as a central, communal holding place for project related information. If I have any collaborative projects, my first instinct is to set up a new teamspace inside Notion, complete with mission, objectives, deadlines, stats, meeting times and Zoom links, links to relevant documents, and the like.
I think I’ve said it before, but at this point, my workflow is so enmeshed with Dropbox that I barely even notice it’s there. But I would certainly notice if it wasn’t there, as I have multiple book projects stored inside.
Gmail, Drive, and Calendar. Honestly, I’m not sure what I’d do without them.
Last year, I got to discover the utility of the Updates tab in Gmail. I love it because it moves a lot of emails I only want to check occasionally into a separate tab.
My LifeSheet, of course, exists in Drive, and my Calendar is timeboxed.
I still do most if not all my writing inside Word. I know there are a lot of other great tools out there, but because I’m used to Word and all its quirks, I’m better able to adapt to changes. I even layout my books in Word.
Excel comes in handy around tax time.
If you want to be as productive as you can possibly be in 2023, ensure that you’ve got the right structures in place. Using the right tools can make a difference, but you’ve got to create processes for all the tools you use too. I suggest keeping your workflow as simple as possible.
If you need any guidance setting up systems for your career or business, feel free to get in touch for personalized coaching. I don’t come cheaply, but I always deliver value.