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I know I need better productivity skills, but looking at some of the questions and answers here makes it sound like a daunting task. For example, I can't imagine how long it would take me to get my current email inbox empty. Contemplating sorting everything in my life sounds like it would take a painfully long amount of time.

I know there are different systems for organizing and improving productivity, but I'm wondering how much time and effort I should expect to put into those tasks before I can see results.

Does that vary by the system used?

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closed as not a real question by Robert Cartaino Jul 7 '11 at 14:30

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

This type of Q&A site only works well when you ask really specific questions about problems you run into day to day. Asking "how much time to get organized" is a very vague, broad question. Without any specifics (knowing which system you are using, what problems you are trying to solve, what problems you are encountering, etc), users can only guess how they can help you. – Robert Cartaino Jul 7 '11 at 14:30
Perhaps this could be restated as a question regarding how to quickly implement a specific productivity improvement? Or how long a specific system might be implemented on average? Or how to build momentum in implementing productivity improvements? Just suggestions on how to improve the question or ask new ones. – jasedit Jul 7 '11 at 14:34
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The time investment required almost certainly varies by the system being implemented. As an example, implementing the Pomodoro Technique can take very little time - get a timer, and start working in timed intervals with short breaks. Inbox Zero can be started with relatively little time, if you start with the Inbox DMZ and go from there. A fully fledged GTD system can take anywhere from several hours to several days to get enough implemented to see results (or so David Allen states in his book.)

Implementing a productivity system will require time based on the complexity of the system, and the distance from your current state to the working state of the given system. Without specifics of which system you're considering, or how much organizational debt (the amount of disorganization you have to overcome) you've accumulated, it's hard to estimate any particularly useful number. I implemented Inbox Zero in an hour or two one evening, and saw results from it the next day. My co-worker couldn't pull that off - his inbox has orders of magnitude more email in it than mine did when I made the decision to give it a shot.

If you're trying to get results quickly, there are steps you can take to get some results sooner (Inbox DMZ is a perfect example) and move you towards improving productivity without a big investment before any return.

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