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How to Be Productive: Use a Powerful Productivity System Oliver Peterson November 28, 2019 Processes, Productivity

This is a guest post from Corey Fradin, Founder of QuickBooost. Exploring topics like productivity, time management, and goal setting, QuickBooost helps you better utilize and take control of your time. The pursuit of productivity is often simplified to a hero’s fable involving the conquest of willpower; the reality might be more about the systems we build around our work, and the clever things we do to make work easier. You only have 24 hours in a day. You can reduce the problem of productivity to: How many tasks can I get done in that 24 hour period? What you choose to do with your time – which tasks you prioritize, which you choose to delegate, which you choose to automate, all of these factors are directly the result of the productivity system you build around your work.

You already have a productivity system, you just might not realize. Even if you don’t feel productive, you can still look at what you’re currently doing and understand it in terms of some kind of system. What that means is, you can break the situation into parts, like your goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics; how all of these things work together amounts to your productivity system. Take for example David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology. The GTD method is basically the idea of achieving mental focus by writing down your main tasks, and figuring out how you can break them down into smaller, more immediately actionable tasks.

This is a type of productivity system. So, in this article, we’ll be looking at: What a productivity system actually is

Why productivity systems are important How to build a simple productivity system Best practice tips on how to be productive Continuously improving your productivity system Extra productivity resources In essence a productivity system is a lot like a straightforward process that helps you break down your workload into smaller, more manageable chunks, and ultimately do more work, more efficiently.

What is a productivity system? A productivity system is simply the way that you manage your time each day. It’s the process you use to be productive and to get things done. The better the system, the more productive you’ll be, the more you’ll accomplish . So in this case, see the official productivity system definition as: the strategies, methods, and tactics that you use to make progress in your work. With that in mind, there are two things I want to point out. First, work means anything that you are striving towards. That could be a weight loss goal, a higher GPA, or that report you’ve been tackling. Work is the thing that you are giving your attention and time to. Second, there are a lot of techniques for achieving better productivity and each one is more promising than the last. Methods like: Process mapping Implementing productivity software Or making a to-do list How are you supposed to decide which to add to your system and which to ignore? Well, I’ll touch on that in more detail later on, but an easy answer for now is to implement the ones that work for you. Everyone is different. The system that you create will look different compared to the person sitting next to you. That’s fine and to be completely expected. Your system, like you, is unique and will be tailored to the tasks and goals that you are looking to accomplish. The methods you choose to adopt, then, should be ones that help you move forward.

Why should I care about a productivity system?

You now know what a productivity system is, but why is it important? Why do you need a productivity system? It all comes down to your time. With only 24 hours each day, how you choose to spend those hours will have a direct impact on what you can achieve. If you spend them wisely, you’ll see yourself moving faster and making more progress than ever before. But wastefully? Well, you’ll likely move in small, frustrated circles. Not really making any progress and not really going anywhere. You don’t want that. You want results! That’s why a productive system is so important. Because by having one, you’ll have a routine for getting real, meaningful work done each day. In other words, with an effective system you’ll have the process and confidence to know that the work you’re putting in each day is leading you in the right direction. So when it comes to improving your productivity, understand that creating a productivity system for yourself is one of the best things that you can do.


How to build a productivity system It’s time to create your productivity system. Each of the following steps will break down a different part of the process.

Go through each step slowly and take the time to build something that works for you. After all, if you spend a little extra time upfront creating something of value, you’ll save yourself that much more time on the backend. Let’s dive in.

1. Know what you want The first step in creating your productivity system is to know what you want. It’s taking a look at the big picture to understand where you are heading and why you want to go there. It’s also correcting course if you find that you are heading in a direction that you don’t want to go. Put another way, this first step has to do with goal setting. Now, if you’re new to setting goals for yourself, the key to doing it effectively is to look at the macro. Zoom out from your daily grind and take a good look at who you are and where you want to go. Then with that in mind, you can start setting some objectives and checkpoints to guide you towards a better future. Something to keep in mind – Harvard Business Review suggests that while setting challenging goals may seem more daunting, reaching them leaves you that much more satisfied compared to taking the easy route. So aim high and set some goals that are going to challenge and push you to greater limits.

2. Create a plan With your goals in mind, the next step to creating your productivity system has to do with your tasks. Because what you choose to spend your time on matters. Imagine this scenario – you are the most productive you’ve ever been. You spend your days flying through tasks. Getting more work done with better effectiveness and determination than ever before. But, you’re not seeing any progress . You’re still in the same spot that you were before becoming more productive. What’s going on? It all comes back to your tasks. The tasks you work on, similarly to how you choose to spend your time, dictates the direction your life takes. For example, if you spend nine hours each day doing laundry, you may feel really productive and happy with the work you did, but you won’t be any closer to achieving your goal of running your own business. Or if you spend all-day working out, you won’t be any closer to your goal of learning to surf. See what I’m getting at? The tasks you work on directly impact the progress you make. So for this step:

1. Consider the tasks that you perform each day 2. Prioritize your tasks so that you work on ones that will help you achieve your goals before working on anything else 3. Once you complete your important tasks, then begin to focus on lower-level tasks Create a plan for your time that helps you do more of what matters while ignoring everything else.

3. Implement tactics


GOST: Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Tactics. This hierarchy is about breaking down your main business goals into smaller, actionable tasks, or tactics. So, you have your goals and you know what tasks need to be worked on. You now have the skeleton of your system set up. Great! What’s next? Implementing tactics that will allow you to be that much more productive. Because with your goals and objectives in place, you’re ensuring that each day you will work on things that actually matter and will help you move forward. You’re now at the point where you can start implementing new ways to enhance your productivity and start moving even faster in the right direction. For this step, it’s all about trying new things. Testing and experimenting with different tactics to find what works best for you. I already touched on a few methods earlier on in this post that you should consider. Here are some that Inc recommends: Blocking sites that you find distracting Embracing automation to reduce the time you spend on repetitive tasks

Unsubscribing from emails that don’t provide you with value There are a lot of different tools, techniques, and tactics that you can apply to your productivity system. It can feel overwhelming at times, but try not to overthink it. Instead, test a couple out. Try one or two within your productivity system and see how they work. If you find that you are more productive and able to make substantial or meaningful progress, keep it. If you find that either nothing happens or you are less productive using the tactics, scrap them and try something else. See this step in two parts. Part one is implementing new tactics into your system. Part two is testing them out and keeping the methods that help you do more of what matters.

4. Iterate everything

The final step in creating your productivity system is the simplest to explain, but the most time-consuming to do. Iterate. Yes, along the way you’ll want to continuously revamp and revise your productivity system. As you progress and grow, you’ll learn of new or better ways to do things. And when you do, it’s your responsibility to update your productivity system so that it is constantly building on top of itself. The more you iterate, the better your system, the more productive you’ll be, the sooner you’ll reach your goals. It’s all connected. To give you an example, I’ve always planned out my day. I’ve always had the need for it and the desire to organize my schedule – even as a kid.

But do you think I use the same system for planning as I did all those years ago? No way! I went from planning with Post-It Notes (which I would have to throw away and rewrite every time a plan moved around), to Excel (which was clunky and slow), to Google Docs today (my new favorite). My systems have and will continue to grow with me and so should yours.

Best practice tips for how to be productive With your productivity system now in place, congratulations! You are well on your way to achieving something amazing. That said, there are a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind. Some points that will keep you on the right track as you experiment with your productivity system.

Keep it simple The best systems are simple ones. Make your system as simple and straightforward as possible. Do your best not to overcomplicate or over-plan. The more detailed the system, the more time you’ll need to spend fixing different areas that break. The simpler the system, the more time you’ll have to actually get work done. Now, there’s certainly a time and place for a more complicated, thorough system. Just like how there is a time and place for both productivity and efficiency. But when it comes to version one of your productivity system, keep it: Light Easy to use Simple! That way you can focus on what actually matters.

Use a prioritization matrix Using a simple business process analysis tool like a prioritization matrix can help you figure out what to prioritize. You can apply a prioritization matrix to anything, from simple tasks to complicated projects. Anyone can use them, from a single person to a large enterprise team. A simple prioritization matrix looks like this:


Here you have a 2×2 grid with cost plotted against value. The principle is straightforward. You make a list of your tasks, and then categorize them based on these simple categories. This is a simple version; more complicated prioritization matrices do exist and the topic runs quite deep. I’d recommend you read our prioritization matrix article for a more in-depth look at the topic. But, if you want to try out a quick and simple prioritization matrix for yourself, you can just use this template:

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How to Be Productive: Use a Powerful Productivity System  

The pursuit of productivity is often simplified to a hero’s fable involving the conquest of willpower; the reality might be more about the s...

How to Be Productive: Use a Powerful Productivity System  

The pursuit of productivity is often simplified to a hero’s fable involving the conquest of willpower; the reality might be more about the s...