4 Steps to Improving Your Productivity System

Raise your hand if you've got screen fatigue!

The struggle against online distraction has been a big battle in this year of simplifying, and I know I'm not alone on this one. When your job involves social media, there's no easy way to avoid all the distractions that come with using the tools of the trade. It takes a good organizational system and a WHOLE LOTTA discipline to use your time spent online most efficiently.

This Year of Simplify has me taking a good look at how I'm spending my time online, and making sweeping changes across the board. Everyone has to find productivity systems that work best for them, and I'm learning that less is truly more for my lifestyle.

Here are a few of the things I've been working on:

1) Assess the landscape

I love a good productivity system. So much so that I've got years of experience trying out the latest system or app for awhile, trying to adapt it to whatever I was doing before. I've found myself with several calendars, email accounts, organizational apps, notebooks, RSS feeds and other tools - none of which add up to a streamlined, cohesive process. To make sense of it all, I created a list of all the tools I use, what I use them for, and how frequently I use each.

2) Trim the fat

This is where a cold, hard 'Come to Jesus' talk with my productivity junkie side happened. Which tools do I truly enjoy using, or frequently come back to? Which ones do I only return to after a few months (or when I remember I have them?) This part involved a lot of unsubscribing, reconfiguring and deleting. It was a pain in the ass, but worth it in the long run.

3) Make the most of the favorites

After trimming the fat, I was left with the tools I use most frequently:

I cut all of my RSS feeds in Feedly, except for this blog and a couple of other really important reads. I then made Twitter lists of all of the blogs and sites I was subscribed to via RSS, and set up those columns in Tweetdeck so I can have a more holistic view of all the news I want to check up on, in the platform where I get almost all of my news. I have all of my calendars synced up in Sunrise now. I take notes and keep my to-do task lists in one paper notebook (versus one for my notes, one for my to-do lists, another for strategy work, etc.) In Evernote, I keep longer form notes, strategic to-dos, best practices, wish lists and things I want to remember (like inspirational quotes.) Pocket saves all of the articles that catch my eye during the day. Email newsletters keep me tuned into industry news, and I use Unroll.me to roll up all of the non-urgent ones into one daily email.

4) Stick to it

Consistency is the toughest part of incorporating anything new into your life, but it's the only way to get it to stick. Once I determined my new set of organizational tools, it was just a matter of setting some ground rules and staying consistent with this system. I make sure to check in on each of these tools at least once a day, if not more. I schedule time to plan out the week, and I'm working on making time to reflect at the end of each day too (which helps my other goal of writing more this year!)

That's it! I'm curious to know what your favorite tools or systems are. Let me know!

Follow my year of simplifying here.