Why Productivity Systems and Tools Aren’t Enough

Are you still looking for just the right system that’s going to help you be more productive and finally let you have all the time in the world? If this is you, get your ticket, fasten those seatbelts, and sit back and relax as we join our host Nicole Bandes on a solo flight over the topic of productivity systems and tools, what they are, and why they may not be working in your business. Nicole will give practical tips and first hand experience from her coaching days on tools and systems, plus some common beliefs that come with the topic.

Key Takeaways from this Episode:

  • What the heck are productivity systems and tools, and what some of their uses would include.
  • The steps Nicole has learned on her journey to being more productive.
  • How mindset is connected to productivity tools and systems.

About Our Pilot:

Nicole Bandes, founder and CEO of Virtual A Team, is intensely committed to guiding entrepreneurs and small business owners to find and OWN THE ZONE so they can overcome overwhelm and have more time for what matters most.

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Are you still looking for just the right system that’s going to help you be more productive and finally let you have all the time in the world? I have a secret to let you in on…

I'm kind of lazy. I admit it. I like to work less and have more free time. I think part of that comes from being a chronic migraine sufferer and needing to reduce the amount of work stress in my life. It has also meant I needed to get more done in less time just in case a migraine would strike. 

That’s probably why I first started learning how to be more productive. Way back in Junior High. I remember being given a class planner when we had our intro to the crazy world that was different teachers and different classrooms. I thought that was so cool. A place where I could track homework assignments and tests? Are you kidding me???

Of course, I’ve also had migraines since JH… Coincidence??? JUST KIDDING!

Once I discovered planners, my journey to become the perfectly productive person (say that 5 times fast) started.

I have spent many years looking for that perfect productivity system and getting it to work just right for me. I had learned so much that I even became a Productivity Coach & Consultant.

But what do I mean by productivity systems and tools?

A quick search on the internet comes up with over 277 MILLION results. That’s a LOT of listings for productivity systems. 

A productivity system is a philosophy around how to be more productive. Think Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, a book that just released its 30th anniversary edition a couple of years ago.

The team over at TeamGant lists the following as the four best productivity systems:

  1. Getting Things Done by David Allen is a workflow that allows you to choose how to prioritize your tasks and get everything out of your brain and onto paper.
  2. Pomodoro was started by Francesco Cirrillo and utilizes time as a limiting factor encouraging you to stay focused.
  3. Zen to Done by Leo Babauta builds on the Getting Things Done premise while working to overcome some of it’s limitations.
  4. Don’t Break the Chain was popularized by Jerry Seinfeld in his attempts to write more stand up comedy jokes. It’s a simple premise that works on consistency every single day.

The system I often taught when I coached or presented consisted of 5 key elements: Eliminate, Automate, Delegate, Procrastinate (on purpose), and focus. 

Productivity Tools, on the other hand, are programs, calendars, journals, software, etc… that help you to get organized and stay productive.

When looking for a best of related to tools, the search came back with numbers like 66 best, 44 top, 29… That’s a LOT of tools.

As Time Doctor.com explains, Tools can be broken down into categories such as:

  • Communication and collaboration (think things like Slack or Zoom).
  • Time Tracking Tools (to help you identify how you are spending your time).
  • To Do List or Project management tools (like Asana, Trello, Monday, or just your written To-Do List)
  • Note-Taking Tools (so you don’t forget things that are important)
  • Focus tools (that help you stay off of social media for too long or get you into the Zone faster).

And that’s just the start!

If systems were clothes and tools were the accessories, my efforts to find the right combination that would nail my productivity challenges ended up looking like the dressing room floor of a prom dress store in April, more discarded cast-offs than jaw-dropping options. I wanted that Come-down-the-stairs-and-make-everyone-stop- in-their-tracks moment when it came to finding the right combination of productivity systems and tools. 

But, the overwhelming mix of options makes me realize two things. 

  1. These tools and systems are NOT one-size-fits all. New ones keep getting created because the old ones aren’t working.
  2. It’s not the tools or systems that account for most of our productivity.

Here’s some of what I learned on my journey and by coaching 100’s of others to become more productive.

Lesson #1 - Productivity systems and tools aren’t a perfect fit – Have you ever purchased a high ticket item like a brand new car or home? Even if you custom build a home based on your own specifications, you often figure out things that just don’t work for you. It might be where the laundry room is placed or how the garage is on the other side of the kitchen so you have to carry your groceries all through the house. 

Systems and tools are no different, there’s always going to be something that just doesn’t quite work for you. And quite often, that one thing will likely cause you to get so frustrated that you stop using it at all. After all, when something isn’t easy, we resort to what IS easy in times of stress.

Lesson #2 -You can get caught up looking at options – With so many systems and tools, you can actually get trapped and waste MORE time trying to find the perfect fit. I test drove so many programs that I knew all the bells and whistles of each. Clients would pay me not to have to do that kind of research themselves knowing that I could find a close match based on their personality and style. But, if you aren’t prepared to pay someone, this can be an incredible waste of time. 

By the way, if you are interested saving some time while selecting the best tools for you and your business, be sure to check out episode number 68 . I dive deep into how you can better evaluate all the options and pick the one that will be most beneficial to you. Tap into my years of expertise and save yourself a lot of time! We’ll link that in the show notes.

Lesson #3 - It’s more about mindset than the right tool – Not another mindset topic!!! Let’s be honest, there’s a reason so many coaches focus on mindset. What we think about, comes about. Whenever I worked with a new coaching client to help improve their productivity, I would always share that mindset had to come before tools and systems. 

  • If you felt guilty about how you spent your time – tools would not work.
  • If you struggled with “fear of” issues, i.e. fear of success, fear of failure, imposter syndrome – systems would not work.
  • If you had personal issues that affected your business life – tools and systems wouldn’t work.

Again, this is just a few examples of the mindset challenges that can keep you from being more productive.

The fact is, if you don’t value your time and how you use it, no system, tool or hack will offer you more time.

I’m going to share a favorite poem of mine. Author – Unknown.

To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade. 

To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby. 

To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper. 

To realize the value of ONE DAY, ask the person who was born on February 29th. 

To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet. 

To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who missed the train. 

To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask a person who just avoided an accident. 

To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal in the Olympics. 

Treasure every moment that you have! And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time. And remember that time waits for no one. 

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it's called the present.

Until you are ready to be intentional and deliberate with every moment you have, your productivity will suffer. 

Here are some of the most common things I heard when coaching clients and what the negative belief may be.

“But I have to be available in case a client calls.” – If I miss a client call, they won’t do business with me and I’ll be a failure. Here’s the reality, you teach people how to treat you. If you train your clients that you are available 24/7, they’ll expect you to be. If you don’t want to be, let them work with someone else. There are plenty of other clients who will respect your boundaries.

“I should spend more time doing XYZ.” – I think everyone wants me to do something else but I also think I need to be doing what I’m already doing. I really can’t make up my mind. Shoulding is a lack of commitment. You want to please people, including yourself, so you can’t commit to how you truly want to spend your time. 

“I don’t have time to do ABC.” – I’m not really that interested in motivated even if I say I am. It’s not a lack of time you have, it’s a lack of priority. If you don’t have time to spend with your family, your priority is on your business. If you don’t have time to take care of your health, it’s not your priority. Change the phrase to accurately reflect what this is and you’ll discover a shift in perspective.

Letting go of these beliefs isn’t always easy but once you are ready to let go, then the systems and tools are no longer as critical. 

Stop chasing the perfect system, tool or hack and start reflecting on how you value your time. 

Do you know the dollar value of your time? How much is your time actually worth to you? Here, at Virtual A Team, we’ve created a handy calculator to let you determine just that. It also gives you some insight on how much you can afford to pay someone when you choose to start outsourcing. It’ll take just a few minutes and you might be surprised by what you learn. Check it out at CanYouAffordToOutsource.com

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