020: Are Your Digital Systems Helping or Hurting Your Productivity?


All this month I’ve been talking about systems and processes, and as we wrap up July, and before I move into time management and helping you create working systems, I want to really hammer home the fact that the basics need to be in place before you succeed with your proper workflows. Are you getting distracted by shiny new tools and the next big thing, and essentially harming your productivity? In this episode, I talk about the things you need to watch out for so you don’t get sucked into a time-sucking rabbit hole.

Discussed In This Episode:

  • How I still fall prey to shiny objects
  • Why productivity tools can actually lead to an avoidance of work
  • How the latest tool only enhances what’s already there (if your unproductive, you’ll just be more unproductive)
  • The big thing I want you to do with your current task management system
  • Tools vs. skills
  • “There’s an app for that” but why you don’t always need it
  • Fear of better options – what is it and why you need to try and avoid it
  • My biggest tip for you to just keep moving forward

Other Helpful links:


Welcome to Coffee Powered Systems, equipping women with actionable steps to overcome, overwhelm and streamline business and life. So grab your favorite drink and come hang out with me. I'm your host, Miranda Merten. Welcome back to another episode of Coffee Powered Systems, this is Episode 20.


Hey, look, Mom I made it all right. Episode 20, it's Friday and it's also the end of July.


Wow. Where did it go? Are summer's almost over. We've got about one more month left. And all of this month I've been talking about systems, talking about what they are. These first 20 episodes we're giving you in my tip Tuesdays. I have been giving you some great tools to get you started in hopes that you could find something that would work for you as far as a to do app or a task management system. And as we wrap up July and before I move forward into next month, which I'll be diving more into time management and how you can make your systems work for you, I really want to hammer home the fact that you need to cover the basics and get your workflow and your processes in order before you succeed.


Everything I give you, you don't have to do it all. You don't need every single app to completely put your life on autopilot. We don't want to do that anyways. We don't need to put our life on autopilot.


We're just doing some of these things to get your workflows to work for you.


OK, and I have to admit, I still have trouble with shiny object syndrome and spending days playing with new things.


I'm getting better because I know my limits and I know and I notice when I get into these rabbit holes and I have to say, oh, Miranda, stop, you're taking too long.


I have to dial it back and say, is this even necessary?


Which is hard for me right now because a lot of the things I do is for you guys now, too, because I see a new thing and I'm like, oh, I have to try this and then I can talk about it on the podcast.


And that gets me in a little trouble, too, because I love, love, love looking at new things and new tools and new apps and new software.


And I get giddy about it. And I just like tinkering. And then I tinker half the day away and then I have to dial it back and say, this isn't even necessary.


It's not necessary for my personal productivity. And if I do want to research something, I have to put a time limit on it and say, I will tinker with this for an hour, figure out what my review is, figure out my assessment and then move on. Otherwise my productivity is going to be shot as well. So today, I want to talk to you about that for yourself. I want you to be introspective and really take a look at all your digital systems helping or hurting your productivity, because they aren't always helping.


Right? Sometimes we go into these rabbit holes or we're using things that don't really work for us. They're clunky. There's too many features. We spend a lot of time wasting time instead of doing actual work. Maybe you catch yourself scrolling through the App Store or searching through websites or looking on app sumo and trying to find the best app for the next best thing.


For what?


You don't even know what you're looking for. We want all the pretty things and all the bells and whistles. But sometimes you've got to realize when the bells and whistles too much, sometimes you have to realize when you're just avoiding doing the work. And you have to say, is this even going to help me do the work or am I just doing this to have another app on my phone or just to say I'm more productive when really you're not more productive?


We've all heard that saying there's an app for that that comes from summer because literally there's an app for everything.


But I want you to remember, we don't always need an app.


There is an app to help you meditate. There's OK. There's a lot of apps to help you meditate. But if you think about it, really, all you have to do is sit in a quiet room, close your eyes in silence, take some deep breaths and focus, you know, lean into your chakras.


Maybe you need to do a little research on exactly how to meditate, but you don't need an app for it. Sometimes it helps. It helps you get into the zone. But that's something you don't really need an app for searching. Thirty minutes or forty five minutes on the App Store to find an app to meditate. You could have close drives and meditated. OK, you've got to think about these things. There is an app to track your water.


Do you really need an app to track your water intake?


Just fill a bottle a few times a day and drink the water if you need to check something off, if you're doing like a habit tracker.


Let's not get into the habit tracker apps.


There's a million of those to get a paper calendar and check it off, draw a little cup every time you drink a glass of water. We don't need an app for everything. There are 15000 different calendar apps. Why are you searching for a new one? They all keep track of your events. There's nothing special about a calendar app.


The biggest difference you're going to find is how the folders are organized or maybe how it looks or maybe integrating with other things. If you want to be safe, go with Google Calendar. It integrates with everything when it comes to things like that. Keep it to the major things you can integrate with and move on. All right.


So that's what I want you to really take note of as we're going into yet another month. It feels so late in the year. And I want you to think about that goals list that you made at the beginning of the year. How many things have you accomplished on your goals list? If you've done one or two things, fantastic? If not, I want you to reevaluate. Why haven't you gotten all of those things done? And have you been focusing on trying to find the right tool or trying to set up systems in order to get these things done?


At the end of the day, you can be working on things that don't even need a system as long as you know what to do next. What's your next step? What are you trying to do today or this weekend or this week? And what's the next step that you're going to need to take to get there?


I know I've said this before in the last few of my podcast, but I really want to hammer this home because I keep seeing this a lot. People keep asking me about what do I use for this and what do I use for that.


And some of the things I'm like, you don't need to use anything or you already have something. I bet you already have something that does that, but maybe you haven't even explored that portion of that app yet.


So before you go searching for a new tool, I want you to make sure that you are aware of how everything that you already have function. The next thing I want you to keep in mind is that the latest tool or app app will only enhance what's already there. So basically, if you already have a really good system and maybe you just need to put everything in the correct order, you need to know where your time blocks are going. You need to know how long your time blocks are going to be or what days you're going to be doing your batching.


That's good. You already have a system now. You just want to organize it. That's good. It's going to amplify what's already there. The right tool is going to make that better. But if you are confused and there's you're not really quite sure nothing's ever in order. Nothing's organized. You don't really have a step by step process of what you do every day. You kind of get up and you just open the computer and you're like, I think I do want to work on this today.


I said I was going to add this calendly link to my website, so I guess I could do that. I wanted to redesign this contact you page so I can do that, too.


If you're doing that, that means you don't have any systems in place and downloading the next big thing is just going to make it more confusing. The next thing is when you finally find something that works, use it and learn to make it work. I've done this a lot where I'll jump from one thing to one thing and oh, let me try Asana. Yeah, it's OK. You know, I'm not super into it, but it can do the job.


Oh let me do this one. Yeah that's cool. I don't really like the layout. It's kind of weird. Go on to the next one. And what happens instead is that you end up putting your projects over here, you put these links in this one and then you got to read, put the project over here. Even if you're importing exporting a lot of times they don't match up folder for folder. So things just get plopped in there.


And it's a big old mess.


Anyways, when you find a tool, if you like it, if you can really see yourself using it, just get to know that one, fall in love with it, figure out how it works, figure out how that system, the tagging, everything works in it and make it work because they're all going to basically do the same thing. And again, as long as you have your workflow that you normally go through all you. I have to do is go through and and check off and open up your thing and check it off and let it work for you.


OK, next, use only the tools that you need to use for your business. Start where you are. Be where you are. You don't need to use something that, Suzie, 100,000 followers on social media is using for her business because she's probably a few steps ahead. She's probably got a couple of people on her team. And sometimes you don't need all of the things right now.


If Dubsado looks really good and you're like, oh, that might actually be a really, really good for my consulting.


Yeah, it might be. But if you're not there yet, if it's got 10 different features that you don't really need at the moment, then you don't need it. You can upgrade when it's necessary.


Now, that's not to say that you shouldn't be aware of what's out there and ready for the upgrade in good time so that you have a plan when you can say, OK, now I'm ready, I've added a team member or I'm now adding scheduling or I'm now adding payments on my website.


When you start needing these things, then you can upgrade. But if something is 59 dollars a month, because it's got all of these things and you are either not using it or you're not making money, that makes sense to pay for something at a high price like that, then you don't need it.


Just use what you need at the time for what you're using.


Now, if a good deal comes along, of course, if you're on AppSumo or Entrepreneur store, then go ahead.


If there's like a lifetime deal for something and you're like, I'm not using this right now, but gosh darn, that's forty nine dollars for a lifetime. I might use it in three years and then then I'll have it well short. Forty nine bucks. And if it's something that's normally thirty nine bucks a month then obviously that's a steal. You can make that judgment call and go ahead and get things like that. But I wouldn't waste time paying for something that you are not using on a regular basis if you are using something like maybe a lead pages, which is a good amount of money.


Yeah. If you've got some landing pages up and you're definitely using it all the time, then for sure that kind of stuff you're going to want to get for your business.


Now, tools versus skills, tools and skills are not the same thing. You can have the right tools or you can have the right skills, or you could have both, but they're not necessarily interchangeable.


I could have a fancy typewriter or computer, but it's not going to help me write better. It's not going to help me be a better author. But that being said, you do still need some decent tools because the author that maybe he's writing a huge novel and doesn't want to handwrite it, that might get a little tiresome.


I know some people still do handwrite manuscripts before they type it all up, but if his computer is not quite working or it's slow or the keyboard sticks, then he doesn't have the right tool. OK, so in that same retrospect, you need to have the right tool, but you also need the skills to go along with it because the tool isn't going to make your skills better. Does that make sense?


And the last thing I want to touch on before we wrap it up is there is such a thing as a fear of better options.


And I feel like I dealt with this for so long, is that you always feel that there's a tool that is just a little bit better out there. And this is the thing that wastes so much time. Just get that out of your head.


Like unless something is going to be 50 percent or more better, you don't need it. If you are harping on the fact that I wish this, they did just this one little thing that's really annoying to me. But everything else it does is fine. Let me go hunting for something else that could do this. One little thing that I've been wanting to do. No, that's just that's the fear of better options. It's like the famo of tools.


You don't want to miss out on something else out there.


There's pages and pages and pages of Google of things. If you type in product management tools, you're going to get a thousand pages of things and you get into this rabbit hole and you're like, oh, it's so close.


Maybe, maybe the next one I click on is going to have everything I want. It's going to be the holy grail of everything. I've been looking for and don't we all wish that there was a holy grail of everything that we could have, whether that is a client suite, you know, like a Zendesk, it's got everything rolled into one. It's got financing and task management. And wouldn't it be nice? And every time you open up a new app, you get into it a little bit and then you realize, oh, God, it doesn't do this.


And I love that stuff and I love that the other one had that. And then you go looking again because you feel like there's got to be something out there. It's 20, 20, and there's got to be someone has already made exactly what you're looking for, because at the end of the day, we all kind of have the same problem. So I think that's part of where this fear of missing out comes from is that we think someone has to have made it.


My last takeaway for you today is you need to be happy to settle with a good enough option in order to move forward, in order to be truly productive.


You got to go with what's good enough right now because nothing out there is perfect and you just have to be OK with what's good enough. And like I said, understand how it works. Get to know the ins and outs of it. And then once you're once you've exhausted it and realize that you do need an upgrade, then you can upgrade. That is what I wanted to bring you today.


Make sure that your digital systems or your need for more tools, make sure they're not hurting your productivity. OK, so that is all I have for you today. Thanks for joining me. I'll see you next week.


Thanks for listening to Coffee Powered Systems. You can find links to everything mentioned in the episode. Down in the show, notes are on the website at Miranda Merten dotcom. If you enjoyed this episode and would love to continue mastering your workflows and processes, subscribe on your favorite podcast player and join me here next time.

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