What Is a Productivity System (& How to Build Your Own)
Productivity systems are systematic methodologies, tools, guidelines, or practices that one uses to get things done efficiently.
A sound productivity system, also known as a productivity method, helps you figure out what to do and when to do it. Having a systematic approach to your day and facilitating your work ensures you do not waste your time.
It might not seem like it, but each of us might already have some form of such a system. The problem is the inefficiency in doing things, which leads to you falling short of meeting your set goals. The lack of a consistent, functional system is why you should consider a productivity system.
This post will inform you about the best productive systems and tools you can try and how you can choose and build a system that improves your productivity, motivation, and collaboration.
Understanding productivity systems
A productivity system is a set of procedures devised to get things done. The practices are designed to increase your productivity by performing the set goals in less time than it would typically take you.
Productivity systems do not do the work for you. Instead, they can help you organize your work according to priorities, making it easier to run your errands and maximize your efficiency.
Why do you need to use a productivity system?
If you frequently feel lost when you have several tasks waiting because you can’t figure out where to start, how to prioritize, what to do, or when to do it, exploring productivity methods might be the way forward.
Also, if you often feel overwhelmed by your tasks and spend most of your time trying to organize your thoughts, you might be saved by a sound productivity system.
Creating a system that suits your work and organization can significantly reduce the number of decisions you make in a day. Some systems can be implemented individually, while others allow room for a whole organization.
Since countless productivity systems and tools are flooding the market today, it is crucial to identify the best application to assist you as you address your needs. The app should, in the process, help boost your productivity. Because not every system works for everyone, below is a list of the best 10 productivity systems you can consider for overall productivity.
Top 10 of the best productivity systems
1. The Pomodoro Technique
Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s, the Pomodoro Technique encourages a work-rest pattern. You get to work in 25 minutes, spaced by 5-minute breaks.
After the fifth work period, you reward yourself with a 15-30 minute rest. You can, however, adjust the duration to fit your needs.
Chopping your tasks into smaller blocks helps you tackle more extensive projects in manageable sessions and improves your efficiency and productivity.
With Pomodoro, you get into the work zone while also ensuring you take frequent breaks without draining your mental energy.
2. The Getting Things Done (GTD) Technique
Getting Things Done was created by David Allen, author of the book with the same title. A time management system focuses on organizing your to-do list and schedules into one productivity system.
The GTD involves five steps:
- Capture: write down or record everything you need to remember, e.g., ideas, projects, assignments, and appointments.
- Clarify: create a more specific action indicating how you will achieve the tasks you captured.
- Organize: arrange your tasks in order of priority. You can list the jobs into categories such as urgent, necessary, due dates, or based on the value of the assignments.
- Reflect: optimize your list by reviewing and making adjustments to improve your productivity system.
- Engage: get things done. The goal is to complete the tasks you put in your record one after the other.
The GTD approach involves discipline and consistency. Whether you are leading a team or managing personal responsibilities, the GTD allows you to track assignments and measure your progress.
3. The Zen to Done (ZTD) System
ZTD is a productivity system created by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, and its focus is on helping people build individual habits in stages. The ZTD guides you on using a simple approach towards improving your productivity as you focus on one practice at a time. The four core habits of the ZTD are:
- Collect: get ideas from your mind and note them down on a list.
- Process: review your list daily and decide how to act on the listed tasks.
- Plan: pick the high-priority items to achieve every day through the week.
- Do: make time to accomplish the selected things without interruptions.
4. The Daily Trifecta
This system aims to make your goals more organized and simpler to accomplish. The Daily Trifecta works by drawing focus on the three main tasks you want to get done each day by writing them down the previous night.
This is ideal if you set realistic goals, focusing not on every job but only on the most important ones.
5. Task Batching
The task batching system involves grouping activities in clusters of a similar nature or requiring common skills. You can also batch your tasks according to the amount of attention they demand. By doing so, you maintain focus, conserve energy, and improve your productivity habits.
Task batching works based on how natural your brain functions by focusing on one thing at a time or in single-tasking mode. This tool improves the quality and speed of your work since you are tackling similar tasks together.
6. Eat the Frog
The Frog is that one task on your to-do list that you have zero motivation to do and which you have the highest chance of procrastinating. Eating the Frog means just doing it first thing in the morning before starting the rest of the assignments.
Once you are done with the task, the rest of the day will be more straightforward. Eat the Frog gives you a sense of accomplishment at the beginning of the day.
If you have two frogs in one day, start by eating the biggest. If you have two or more critical things to achieve on a day, tackle the biggest one first. The longer you wait to accomplish an important task, the more tired you get, and you might lose willpower if you keep postponing it.
7. Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix was developed by the former United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and it aims to help you organize and prioritize your work. In his speech in 1954, he said “the urgent is seldom important, and the important is seldom urgent.”
The Eisenhower technique consists of four quadrants whose purpose is consolidating your tasks into sections that are easy to distinguish. In the quadrants, you group tasks worth your time and valuable to your long-term goals from less pressing ones that you can delegate or delete.
This productivity tool is a quick booster for deciding on the most valuable tasks of a particular day or week.
8. Seinfeld Calendar System
The Seinfeld Calendar productivity technique, also called Don’t Break the Chain, mainly focuses on building habits. This system aims to help you reach your goals by tackling small tasks every single day.
It would be best to have a full-year calendar on which you mark with a big X the days when you complete your tasks. As days pass, a chain of X’s starts to form, and your focus should be not to break the chain.
Seinfeld Calendar System should be your pick if your goal is to build healthy habits and see your progress while at it.
9. Bullet Journaling
Bullet Journaling, BuJo, in short, was designed by Ryder Carrol. The BuJo system is a form of mindfulness designed to help the user organize the ‘what’ while mindful of the ‘why.’
This technique serves to organize both personal and professional life. You can include a to-do list for daily tasks and keep a detailed record of long-term goals.
The name Kanban comes from the Japanese word Kanban, which means signboard. This method uses a visual board to give a view of a project by indicating the tasks that have been done, the ones that are being done, and the ones that are yet to be done.
For the digital or analog board to work:
- Divide it into three columns: To-Do, Doing, and Done.
- Write your tasks on individual cards and place them in the To-Do column.
- Move its card to the Doing column when you start working on a job.
- After completing the task, move its card to Done.
Kanban is ideal for people who need to manage a task while keeping an overview of it.
How do you create your own productivity system?
Once you have identified the productivity systems and techniques you feel could assist you in meeting your goals, you can focus on how to build and grow into the system. Here are a few steps on how to develop your own system.
Identify Your Productivity Drains
Your weaknesses can help you know where to start when building a productivity system. Please go over the things that you struggle with when it comes to being productive.
If you cannot identify the weak points, pick out some productivity approaches from the above list and try them out, one at a time. By the end of the trials, ideally, three days, track your daily activities from when you arise to when you sleep. That way, you can see where your time is going and where you are spending more time than you should.
Know the Ingredients of an Effective Productivity System
Before enrolling into a system to assist you in tackling your weaknesses, know the purpose of your productivity tools. Some of the components include:
- Capturing: how do you record your notes? It can be as simple as carrying a notepad and a pen wherever you go, emailing yourself, or sending yourself a voicemail when new tasks pop up. The Getting Things Done system is adequate for capturing tasks.
- Filtering: you can filter tasks by discarding those that are not urgent or do not contribute to your goals. Secondly, you can delegate to a person who has the skills to assist you. Lastly, you can add the tasks which cannot be trusted or discarded to your to-do list.
- Prioritizing: which items on your to-do list should you do first? You can group your tasks according to different systems, like doing the essential tasks first with The Eisenhower Matrix or doing the job you dread to do first, as in Eat that Frog.
- Focusing: this involves getting rid of distractions and fighting procrastination. It also includes limiting the number of tasks you choose to work on.
- Energy: in your productivity system, find ways to manage your energy and stay with a positive attitude.
Bodge Together a Productivity System
This step involves creating a productivity system using a collection of productivity tools. Try various techniques, starting with the ones you are naturally drawn to and those that address your weaknesses.
Use Your System
At this point, you have done a great job in creating your system. Next, you should set up your system by printing any worksheets you need, getting supplies, or installing apps on your devices. When you are all set, put your system into practice by carrying out your tasks according to the schedule.
Tweak your system
At this stage, make changes to your system when you encounter frustrations with specific tools. But be resilient and experiment on a technique a few times before giving up on it.
You should be aware that all productivity systems require a good share of willpower. An effective system helps maximize your will.
Creating effective productivity is not a one-day task. It is a lifetime task since you are prone to change in the future. Changes in careers or personal life may require you to develop new skills.
Therefore, choose and create a productivity system that will fit your future needs. Also, be ready to keep experimenting with different tools until you settle for the one that best suits you.