Tool Traps

As I’m getting ready to start a new project I got caught up in figuring what tool would be the best to capture the materials.  My new project is to create a family cookbook in a digital format that I can add to over the years.  I have decades of recipes that are stuffed into the kitchen cookbook cabinet.  Every time I go to find one of the recipes I end up searching through a pile of papers.  Since we will be moving in a couple of months now is the time to get it organized.  So how best to document it?

I pulled all the papers and sorted them by type and purged the duplicates and ones I don’t want to keep.  Then I started to look into ways to document the recipes.  Should I use Word, Publisher, or other software?  Do I create my own template or use one that is already created?  Do I pay for something or use a free format?  And so goes the questions.  As a result I still haven’t really started the project in earnest.  I’ve gotten caught in an analysis paralysis type trap.

In the modern workplace we have so many resources available to us that it is possible to get caught up in a similar trap.  This can be along the lines of what I’m experiencing or it could be a glut of information that is overwhelming.  As well I’ve seen people get stuck on whether to use the new program or the old one for the next project.  It may be that you have a new electronic tool (software or hardware) and getting it figured out before you start is holding up the project.  Whatever the actual cause it is important to realize what is happening and rein it in as quickly as possible. 

Here are a couple of tips to help you get back on track:

  1. New Tools:  If it’s new and it’s required take the time to figure it out before getting into the meat of the project.  If it’s not required to be used determine if you have the time to learn it on this project before jumping in.
  2. Choices:  When you need to decide which tool is the best to use take a few minutes to determine what best suits the requirements of the project.  Look at long-term maintenance of the results, ease of use for others if needed, and what is required to get started.
  3. Information Overload:  When you are involved in a project requiring research / data set limits on what is applicable.  With access to the web it is easy to get too much information so have a well-defined scope that allows you to narrow your search to what will get the project moving along quickly and efficiently.

Whatever the trap you have found yourself in set a strategy to work your way out of it quickly, before you’ve lost time and productivity.  For me, I will spend some time exploring the options to see if there is a new approach that will benefit the project in the long run.  However, I have a start time set and as I approach it I force myself to decide and go with the choice.  For my cookbook project I have decided to use Word because it will take me longer to get Publisher up and running smoothly.  As well, I may not always have Publisher available but I will be able to edit Word in the future. 

How do you get out of the traps that interfere with your productivity?

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