Productivity - One tool to rule them all

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In productivity circles you will often hear the old chestnut, "you need a trusted system." So often though that is misconstrued as, "you need to find the perfect app to manage you life." So begins the quest for the one tool to rule them all. Products such as Evernote, Springpad, OneNote, Any.Do, and more all have various claims to the throne and armies of followers behind them eager to carry the banner.

In an experiment this week I have committed the heresy of breaking with traditional wisdom and moved to a two-tool system. I can hear the cries of the masses already, "It will be twice as difficult! You'll spend double the time! Good luck finding anything!" Those very thoughts are the catalyst for the change, compelled by the clearest dividing line in my world: business and personal.

My company leverages the considerable power of Salesforce for tracking sales and account information. Compelled by the surge of interest in our solutions generated by our new Visual Application Designer, I needed a way to control the schedule, information, and planning around the volume of presentations and conversations I am having. My old response would have been to capture everything into my personal system (Springpad/Evernote/Google Drive/mindmapping - a conglomeration for another post) and manage it from there. However in this case I made a realization.

I recently spoke at the PMI Baltimore PDE event on the topic of project communication and based on the content I crafted for that presentation, I realized I was not following my own guidance. Leveraging a system to organize my work needs to meet all the expectations for that work, and mine was failing in one key respect...communication. By moving all my work tracking (tasks, meetings, notes, schedules, etc.) into the common space of Salesforce, not only can I manage myself but I can also communicate much more effectively with my team members on the engagements at hand.

Salesforce is not the perfect tool by any stretch. None of them are. Each has it's strengths and weaknesses. Go back to the old chestnut and look more carefully: "trusted system". As a company we "trust" Salesforce to do what we need right now. I "trust" it to help meet the expectations we have around my part of our sales process. I can now "trust" my other tools to only have to manage my personal life, not the complex relationship between work and personal.

As you wander the wilds of personal productivity, don't fall into the trap of looking for the one ring to rule them all. Take time to truly understand the expectations you need to manage to and then use the right tools for the job. At that point you'll be able to look at your system, smile, and say, "My Precious."