The problem with productivity tools is that they rarely make you more productive.

There is a ‘story’ of productivity behind these tools and some of them even seem plausible.

In some ways, I think that we are still working with Lotus 123 as the dominant productivity paradigm.

The features of modern Excel surpass what Lotus offered in the 1980s, but in the really big picture, it is not that different.

Rows, columns and formulas. The problem is that the world really doesn’t work that way. Reality does not line up that neatly. Formulas don’t work that precisely.

Variation and mutation are normal and trying to simplify the world in the name of productivity leads to potentially undesirable consequences.

Aside from the fact that things in your own grid don’t always align, the real trouble begins when you need to sync your grids with other peoples. The issues that are important to you are not as important to them.

Even with the best of intentions, other people’s priorities are different than yours. And with the prevalence of multitasking, you are stuck waiting for your turn in the clock cycle… You are in someone else’s queue. And someone else is in your queue….

Usually, the most important things get done, somehow. The process doesn’t always feel as thorough as you would like but somehow things get done.

I don’t know if there is a right answer, but it seems like adding more grids to go on top of grids is going to solve anything.

There is a huge difference between personal productivty and collective productivity. Sadly, making individuals as productive as possible, doesn’t make the whole system more productive.

System productivity is a different thing all together and it doesn’t take a lot of variation to throw it all out of whack. Supply chain issues, anyone?

Undoubtedly, we will put some ‘fixes’ in place to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again, but chances are that will leave other new vulnerabilities.

Information technology that drives you to distraction with multiple notifications on multiple screens is not doing anyone any good.

Software is merely a tool. It is not a productivity expert. Sometimes software encompasses management wisdom that is implemented through rules, but there is always something with productivity tools that don’t make you any more productive.

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