The tools are not the practice

future-electronics-how-gadgets-change-660I love gadgets and gear.  I love leather notebooks, specialized note pads and calendars.  I love aluminum and matte black metal and every form of iThing ever conceived.

I took my first really impactful time management course in 1988.  Part of the package for the two-day training was the Time Design system, a book filled with custom appointment and activity pages, ruled and grid paper, long range planing calendars that folded out, project planning pages etc.  It had its own special slim highlighter for marking off completed actions and bought a groovy Lamy pen/pencil (in matte black of course).  I would have bought an Apple Newton when it first came out but it really had no useful application to the productivity methods I employ.  I was an early adopter of the Palm.  So early it was still a product of US Robotics.  I wanted to take my productivity system digital and tried my best to port it to the Palm Pilot and then Trio, eventually with success when the software and MS Outlook integration was robust enough.  Now, as I have documented in this blog, I am completely moved into an iPad, iPhone world with integration to Google apps.

Guess what?  It’s all a sideshow.  The tools are not the practice.  Capturing all of my commitments (appointments on a calendar, projects and actions in complete and regularly reviewed process), keeping a focus on my outcomes and goals, keeping track of my contacts, having a good system for storing reference material, notes and documents, processing all the incoming stimuli (emails, texts, phone calls, letters, conversations, thoughts, reading, news, inspirations), having a method of deciding what to do with those stimuli and everything that flows from the above are the practice.  The tools are servants to the practice not masters.

My mat is not my yoga practice, my racquet is not my tennis game, my guitar is not my music.  That being said, good gear can enhance a good practice and fun, groovy gear can increase the motivation to engage with it and therefore the practice more deeply, regularly,etc.  Conversely, low quality, inadequate gear can be an impediment to practice (downward dog on a slippery mat is a fool’s errand) so by all means get the gear that gets you in gear.  But don’t make the absence of gear the reason you don’t get clear on your goals and engaged in your ‘stuff’ (to-do’s, calendars, projects).

By the way, getting a process, customizing to your specific needs and finding the right gear for you is exactly what my two-day, one on one coaching is all about.  If you are in the New York area and interested, you might want to try it out. After all,  a good coach can be a huge time saver in getting to the next level of practice.  See my services page for more info. 

The image above came from this article on gadgets.

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Posted in personal productivity

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