“Productivity” is a word that gets thrown around a lot in the business world. Usually, it’s followed by “system,” as in a system to boost productivity.
Unfortunately, the term is so vague that it’s easy to dismiss when you should be embracing it. If you’re thinking of “productivity” as a way to get more done in less time and are therefore considering it only within the context of your day job, you’re missing out on a lot of value. In this article, RisePath PlanCentral lists down for you, 6 productivity systems you should know.
A proper definition of productivity is “the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.”
In other words, being productive isn’t just about getting more stuff done. It’s about doing so effectively. And efficiency can be applied to any area of your life: work, relationships, finances and learning new skills included.
What are Productivity Systems?
Productivity systems are the tools and techniques you use to get things done. Sometimes the term is used more narrowly, as when people talk about “email productivity systems.” Productivity systems are important because they help you do what you need to do without constantly thinking about it. When you first learn a new system, you have to put some effort into making it work for you. But once you’ve got the hang of it, using the system becomes almost automatic. You can stop worrying about how and just get on with what.
At their best, productivity systems free up your attention so that you can pay more attention to the thing that most needs your attention right now.
Productivity systems are the most important thing you can do for your work. They solve the problem of how to spend your time well
You already know that work is important: it’s how you pay for your life. But “work” isn’t one thing: there are many different kinds of work, and they’re not equally valuable.
The most basic tool for thinking about types of work is to think about who pays you. For example, if you’re an employee, then at any point in time there are three groups who might be paying you:
- Your current employer
- A potential employer, who might offer to hire you away from your current employer
- A potential employer in a future job search, if you get fired or laid off by your current employer
If you want to be effective in all these areas (and who doesn’t?), you need a good productivity system — or systems — in place. Luckily for us all, many smart people throughout history have developed systems we can use to our own benefit. Here are six worth knowing about:
Francesco Cirillo invented the Pomodoro Technique in the late 1980s, which is a time management approach. A timer is used to divide the task into 25-minute halves, with brief pauses in between. When Cirillo was a student, he used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to keep track of how long he had left to complete a project. Mental agility may be improved by taking regular rests, which is the premise of this technique.
The Pomodoro Technique has been adopted in pair programming contexts and is similar to concepts such as timeboxing and iterative and incremental development as used in software design.
- Getting Things Done
Getting Things Done (abbreviated to GTD) is a time management method, described in the book of the same title by productivity consultant David Allen. The GTD method rests on the idea of moving planned tasks and projects out of the mind by recording them externally and then breaking them into actionable work items. This allows attention to be focused on taking action on tasks, instead of recalling them. First published in 2001, a revised edition of the book was released in 2015 to reflect the changes in information technology during the preceding decade.
- Don’t Break the Chain
Using the “Don’t Break the Chain” technique popularized by Jerry Seinfeld is a time-saving strategy. Each time you complete a job, a checkmark appears on a calendar. Eventually, you’ll see a pattern of days ticked off. Maintain the chain at all costs.
As Seinfeld shared in an interview: “When it is finished, you will have a whole chain. If you persist, the chain will continue to extend. You’ll like to see that chain, particularly after a few weeks of practice. The only task you have is to avoid breaking the chain.”
This method works because it tricks your brain into feeling good about working on something mundane or difficult. It’s fun to check off items and watch the streak grow. And if you miss one day, that’s okay! Just start again tomorrow and build another streak.
- Seinfeld Method
The Seinfeld Method is similar to Don’t Break the Chain, but instead of marking off days on a calendar, you write down what tasks you’ve accomplished in a notebook or on some plain paper. There’s no obligation to fill up every day with an accomplishment.
If you’ve spent any time reading about personal productivity, you’ll know about the importance of making progress every day, even if it’s just a small amount. This method is designed to help with that. To begin with, find a way of keeping track of your progress (you could just use an ordinary calendar or diary). Then write down what you want to achieve in the coming days or weeks (for example: “write 10 pages of my novel” or “run for 30 minutes”).
- Zen To Done (ZTD)
ZTD, created by productivity blogger Leo Babauta, simplifies and streamlines the GTD method by eliminating many of its steps and focusing on 10 essential habits to increase productivity.
- The Eisenhower Matrix
This prioritization tool was developed by Stephen Covey but is named after Dwight Eisenhower because he used it to manage his time as President of the United States. The Eisenhower Matrix is a task management tool that aids in the organisation and prioritisation of tasks based on their urgency and importance. You’ll divide your chores into four boxes using the tool, based on which ones you’ll perform first, which ones you’ll schedule for later, which ones you’ll delegate, and which ones you’ll remove.