Recommended Productivity Tools: An Introduction

Post 1 in the series: Recommended Productivity Tools

Posts in This Series

  1. Recommended Productivity Tools: An Introduction
  2. The Tools You Need to Have (And Where to Keep Them)
  3. Recommended In Boxes
  4. Recommended Capture Journals
  5. Recommended Pens
  6. Recommended Pencils and Paper Pads
  7. Recommended Staplers, Staple Removers, and Tape
  8. Recommended Scissors, Letter Openers, and Post-Its
  9. Recommended Paper Clips and Super Glue
  10. Not Recommended: Desktop Organizer Things
  11. Recommended Chairs and Waste Baskets
  12. Recommended Labelers and File Folders
  13. Recommended File Cabinets and Bookshelves

Today we’re starting a series on recommended productivity tools. I’m going to cover some basic tools that you need to have and point out which ones work best to make your work smoother, less frustrating, and more enjoyable.

I have in mind here physical tools, rather than electronic tools. Which leads right away to the question: What? Why care about physical productivity tools?

Why Care About Physical Productivity Tools?

There are two reasons to still care about physical productivity tools.

First, even though we live in an electronic age, we still need to do some physical things. Physical “stuff” will always be with us in some form or another. As long as there is a need to do physical stuff, there is also a need to have the physical tools that enable us to work as effectively as we can.

In fact, sometimes physical tools are preferable to electronic. For example, I often prefer capturing ideas and notes in my moleskine notebook over capturing them electronically. This is not always the case, but sometimes it is faster and simpler. This brings into play two physical tools: a capture journal and a pen.

Second, it’s worth giving some reflection to physical productivity tools because most attention is given to electronic tools. And that is just as it should be. But since we still need to use physical tools, someone needs to give some attention to which ones will serve you best.

The Value of Good Tools

My aim in this series is to point out which tools work well and which you will most likely to enjoy using. A fundamental assumption behind that purpose is that having good tools matters. There are at least three reasons for this.

First, if you have good tools, you often times want to use them. This in turn makes your work a bit more enjoyable, and this pays dividends for your productivity. David Allen makes a good point when he writes: “one of the best tricks for enhancing your personal productivity is having organizing tools that you love to use” (GTD, 96).

Second, bad tools get in the way. This creates unconscious resistance to getting things done.

Third, it is important to make your workspace in general a place you want to be. The tools you have at hand are part of that environment, and thus contribute to your overall sense of satisfaction with your work environment. If you have tools that you enjoy using, you are that much more likely to enjoy your workspace in general – which enhances your ability to get things done.

Note, however, that having good tools does not necessarily mean having expensive tools. David Allen rightly notes: “Often, on the low-tech side, the more ‘executive’ something looks, the more dysfunctional it really is” (Getting Things Done, 91). A good tool is a tool that works well and that you want to use.

In the next posts we’ll give a quick overview of the main kinds of physical tools you need to have. A corollary question is where you should keep these tools for optimal access (and minimal distraction), so we’ll cover that to. Then, I’ll cover each tool individually for the rest of the series.

>> Go to next post The Tools You Need to Have (and Where to Keep Them)