Quite naturally, many of the conversations I have been engaged in recently have focused on new goals, projects and priorities for the year ahead and how best to manage those when life is already busy.

Interestingly, I am hearing more talk than usual about productivity tools, ranging from downloading the newest mobile Apps through to dusting down the Filofax (founded 1921) and pulling out the Post-It notes (launched 1977) – yes, seriously!

When it comes to supporting my clients ambitions to drive productivity and effectiveness into their workload management I am tool agnostic; I am insistent on one thing though…..

When it comes to boosting our productivity and effectiveness, our tools have a rank in the hierarchy. They come last.

The best productivity App in the world is an appetite for success

The approach I suggest is: Purpose – Process – Tool. I have observed far too many people think in terms of tools, Apps, tricks and hacks first and foremost. This rarely leads to sustainable improvement.

The tool must serve the process in the simplest, most elegant and effective way. The process must serve the purpose. The purpose is the whole point.

A focus on technology tips and tricks can simply digitise poor behaviours

Recently, a successful client asked me to suggest some mobile-friendly, cross-platform Project Management software that could be available to their BYOD enabled field based people as well as those in the office. They were sure there was an App for that somewhere. Turns out that despite their undoubted commercial success, they had no common understanding of what a ‘Project’ really was, no common processes and no consensus on what constituted a commitment and an escalation.

They were winning but only through a tsunami of email, IM, voicemail, phone calls, escalations, accommodations and capitulations. Exhausting!

Heck, they didn’t even know how many internal and client delivery ‘Projects’ they were running in the business (turns out they had much more than they thought).

So, as you start to put your ambitions for 2014 into your action plans for the next 50 weeks, I suggest you avoid the false promise of shiny new apps, tricks, tips and hacks. Focus instead on fundamental principles, proven processes and behaviours and then look at maximising the productive capacity already in your tool box.

Welding Best Practice workload, priority and time management principles and processes to Best Practice use of Microsoft Outlook, iPhone, iPad and Mac is a major part of my work. Get in touch if you want to explore how our clients get the results they do from our training.

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