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Summary:

In my work and discussions with fellow Web Workers, a common theme among us is our quest for the productivity “Holy Grail”. We are always on the look out to find the web tools and services that will lead us to maximum efficiency and effectiveness. We […]

In my work and discussions with fellow Web Workers, a common theme among us is our quest for the productivity “Holy Grail”. We are always on the look out to find the web tools and services that will lead us to maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

We stay up to date with all of the new applications, testing and evaluating them. We read books on organization and “Getting Things Done”, all in hopes of adding something to our repertoire that will allow us to do more work in less time.

And yet, how much of this time is actually keeping us from the real work we should be doing?

It is important to regularly evaluate the tools that you have chosen and replace them if they aren’t living up to their promise. But we must remember that time spent trying to work more efficiently isn’t really working. It is a fine line between improving your process and wasting time.

So before you start a review process or create that free trial account, you may want to do the following:

  • Ask yourself if you really need this new application. Are you being lured by the shiny new toy are are you really in need of a change?
  • Use a time tracking service like RescueTime to identify what is taking up the bulk of your day, and then focus your improvement efforts there.
  • See if you can learn to use your existing tools more productively. Identify shortcuts or features you aren’t using to maximum effect. This could be a much more effective use of your time than starting from scratch.

If you do find that your chosen tool or service isn’t working for you – make your evaluation process an efficient one:

  • Identify where your current tools are lacking and determine your specific must-have features before you examine alternatives. This will allow you to quickly dismiss those that don’t suit you.
  • Use reviews, like the ones we do here at Web Worker Daily, to guide you to or away from possible time savers or time wasters.
  • Limit the amount of time you spend on your evaluations. It is a task like any other and should be scheduled as such. Give yourself a budget of time and stick to it.

With the proliferation of useful tools and services being announced every day, it is easy to spend hours trying to find the next greatest thing – but is that really the best use of your time?

Are you content with your application choices? How many new web apps do you typically trial each week?

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  1. It’s sites like WWD that I check 3+ times a day that are distracting me from my real work. LOL

    Will try out http://rescuetime.com/ thank you

  2. Self-consciousness plagues productivity geeks more than the average worker. Worrying about the time lost by revising and reflecting on workflow results from that self-consciousness. No one who watches TV thinks about the opportunity cost of such a passive activity, but for some reason people concerned about their task management flagellate themselves for “wasting” too much time on implementing a new calendar tool.

    Use your intuition. If you’re really wasting time, you’ll know it. Experiment with whatever has the potential to increase productivity, but drop it rapidly if the costs outweigh the benefits.

  3. I realized this about myself not long ago. I probably spend more time trying out new systems and reading up on productivity then the time spent actually being productive.

    Maybe i should switch jobs and write a blog about productivity tools :)

  4. Open Loops 12/9/08: Articles I Found Interesting | SimpleProductivityBlog.com Tuesday, December 9, 2008

    [...] Webworker Daily had a set of questions to ask yourself before trying a new application. In “WebWorkerDaily » Archive Sure We’re Busy, But Are We Really Working? «“, [...]

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