What is a productivity system?
A productivity system is a set of guidelines that help you think about what you need to accomplish.
We believe that how you think about work is just as important as the work itself. Here are our picks for the 7 best productivity systems you can use to make this year your most successful one yet.
Also known as “don’t break the chain,” a motivational technique recommended by Jerry Seinfeld.
Here’s how it works: For each goal, get a dedicated monthly calendar. At the end of each day, check to see if you worked towards that goal. If you did, mark it on the calendar. If you didn’t, leave it blank.
Try to maintain a “streak” or “chain” multiple days in a row. The longer your streak, the more progress you’ll eventually see. It’s simple, and it gives you a visual understanding of the time you’re putting in towards a goal.
Useful for: Establishing habits and progressing when long term consistency is needed, such as meditating, eating healthy, or going to the gym.
2. Getting Things Done
Created by David Allen, GTD is a productivity system of organizing all inbound information coming your way.
Here’s how it works. Before you start working, GTD takes each piece of information in your life and places it in a bucket. Buckets include: straight to the trash, I’ll do it maybe / someday, I’ll do this immediately, this is for someone else to do, this should be saved for my reference, this is part of a larger project, and this needs to be done at a specific time.
After you’ve organized everything into these buckets, it should make it a lot easier to understand what you have to accomplish.
Useful for: Organizing everything if you feel overwhelmed with things to do.
3. Worst Things First
This one is simple. Whatever you want to do the least, do it first thing in the morning right after you wake up. This method is also known as “eat the frog.”
Useful for: Making sure you don’t procrastinate an unpleasant task for too long.
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Timeboxing is when you split up your entire day into clearly labeled blocks of time. Each block is assigned to a specific task, project, or activity. Ideally, everything you do goes into a block, including your free time.
Timeboxing puts everything you’re planning on doing into a schedule, which means all you need to do after that is follow your calendar.
Useful for: Accounting for everything in your life. Focusing you on one thing at a time, so you’re not distracted by multitasking.
Kanban is a productivity system that puts your most important items into a pipeline. The three basic stages in the pipeline are To Do, Doing, and Done. You can add other stages if you wish for a more advanced pipeline.
The goal of Kanban is to move each item step by step from the left side to the right side of the pipeline, from To Do to Done. Most Kanban boards also enforce a limit on the number of items during each stage, to make sure it doesn’t get clogged. Kanban boards work well individually and with teams.
Useful for: Getting a top level overview of all ongoing projects and seeing those projects to completion.
Sprints are a key part of agile frameworks like Scrum. A sprint is a period of time – for example, 2 weeks – in which you and your team focus on a single goal.
Sprints always have a clear deadline and goal. After the sprint is over, you and your team evaluate how the sprint went and schedule the next sprint. This allows you to consistently and quickly iterate your approach.
Useful for: Fast iteration and alignment towards a single goal, especially if you’re working with a team.
7. Building your own productivity system
Building your own system will allow you to take what works best from all of these systems and create something that resonates with you and the people you work with.
If you devote the time and energy to doing this well, this is always the best solution, because it will be tailored specifically to your needs. Building your own system also allows you to iterate and throw away what’s not working.
Useful for: Figuring out exactly what you need to be productive.
Magic can help!
Let Magic be your productivity secret weapon this year.
Magic gives you a 24/7 remote team of skilled generalists that will log in and turbocharge any productivity system you’re currently using, whether it lives in your email, on a Trello board, in a Slack channel, or in custom enterprise software.
Our teams are trained to quickly learn your workflow and start getting things done for you automatically. If you haven’t tried Magic yet, give it a try!