As we progress through one more year of WFH and hybrid work, many have noticed a shift in productivity and motivation. Work-life balance has undergone a sea change, and staying productive is increasingly challenging, particularly if you're working with a remote team.
One way to be more productive in 2024 is by adopting a productivity system. This article looks at some of the best productivity systems and tools you can try to improve productivity, collaboration, and motivation.
What Is a Productivity System?
Productivity systems are methodologies designed to help you be more productive or get more work done in less time. These systems do not perform the work for you but can help you organize and prioritize your work, making it easier to streamline your work and maximize your efficiency. Productivity systems include practices, guidelines, and methodologies that help perform tasks efficiently. There are many types of productivity systems, and the best ones are structured yet flexible and easy to adopt.
Why Do You or Your Organization Need a Productivity System?
One of the main reasons for low productivity is fatigue, mainly cognitive fatigue from constantly having to switch contexts and decision fatigue from having to decide among many choices of what to do next.
Creating a productivity system to suit your work and organization can reduce the number of decisions to be taken in a day because you already have a work plan. Some systems can be implemented individually, across a single project, while there are others that can be installed organization-wide.
However, with so many different productivity systems and tools available in the market, it's crucial to identify the best app that can help address your needs and ultimately boost productivity for you. Not every system will work for everyone.
Here are the top 15 Productivity Systems to consider for overall productivity:
1. The Simple To-Do List
The easiest and simplest of productivity systems is the to-do list. The system is based on a simple idea – break down all tasks into digestible, easily-tallied tasks, and enlist them, assigning different levels of priority. Your team members can keep their individual to-do lists, or you could use a cloud-based tool to maintain a shared team to-do list.
To-do lists work best for smaller teams or individuals as these are limited in what they can accomplish.
2. The Pomodoro Technique
Devised by Francesco Cirillo, this time management tool uses a timer to break the workday into short periods, spaced by breaks in between. You work in 25-minute sprints, with 5 minutes breaks in between. After 3 to 5 iterations of the cycle, you can take a more extended break.
Pomodoro blocks enable you to tackle larger, complex tasks into manageable stints, helping you remain focused during concentration time. No wonder it is widely believed as one of the best productivity systems for boosting performance.
3. The Getting Things Done (GTD) Method
This tool focuses on organizing all your to-do lists, priorities, and schedules into one productivity system. It works in a 5-step process of capture, clarify, organize, reflect and engage method. Seemingly, a bit complex at first, the GTD technique is valuable for goal achievement and can be customized to suit most needs.
4. The Zen to Done (ZTD) System
Zen to Done (ZTD) is different from Getting Things Done (GTD) in that it focuses more on personal development and habit optimization compared to individual tasks and projects. It follows a similar process as GTD, outlining all thoughts and narrowing them down to a handful of the most important tasks to be performed each day.
5. Single Tasking
As the name suggests, this productivity method aims to focus on only one task at a time by limiting any distractions. A few ways you can implement single-tasking into your work are by:
- Opening only one tab at a time
- Creating Calendar Blocks
- Turning off notifications
- Installing a social media blocking app
6. Task Batching
Task batching productivity system is based on the single-tasking method, the favorable working mechanism for your brain. Whenever multitasking, your brain is context switching, meaning getting distracted and losing time and energy.
In task batching, you can group similar tasks or task contexts in batches to prevent your brain from switching contexts and maximize productivity. The simple drag and drop method uses to put tasks into time slots that help boost productivity.
7. Eat the Frog
This method is about getting the most difficult task done first. This time management technique allows you to prioritize your tasks according to difficulty or importance, ensuring that you're working on what matters most at the earliest. Getting the most arduous task out of the way first thing in the morning can boost your confidence and help you get closer to your day's goals.
8. The Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower matrix is a simple prioritization system that categorizes task priorities based on urgency and importance. It is made up of four quadrants, aiming to segregate tasks as "urgent but not important" and "important but not urgent." The categorization allows you to focus all your efforts on urgent and important tasks first, so you get closer to your goals each day.
9. Time Blocking
This time management system breaks your work session into blocks and allocates jobs to designated blocks. You can decide the length of each block. This technique has a single-tasked, time-limited approach to enable you to work harder and faster.
10. Time Boxing
Time boxing method employs an approach opposite to time blocking. It schedules jobs such that you are not spending too much time on certain tasks, especially the time-consuming ones. Time boxing productivity methods are more conducive to projects with strict deadlines.
11. Bullet Journaling
Are you surprised to see bullet journaling on this list? Well, don’t be. It’s a way to not just organize your personal life but your professional one too. You can use this technique in a to-do list manner for daily tasks and keep a multifaceted record of long-term dreams, feelings, and daily responsibilities.
12. The Daily Trifecta System
This system aims to make your goals simpler to achieve and more organized. It helps you set realistic goals and accomplish not every task but only those that are most important. The daily trifecta works by focusing on three main things you want to accomplish each day by writing them down the previous night.
13. Seinfeld Calendar System
Also known as the 'Don't Break Chain' productivity system, this productivity tool comes from the books of comedian Jerry Seinfeld who used this unique calendar system.
The system works like this:
- Get a calendar that has a whole year on one page.
- Decide on your daily goal.
- With a red marker, draw a big X over every day when you accomplish your goal.
- Over time, you'll see a chain of Xs across the calendar, which will motivate you not to break the chain.
One of the most straightforward productivity systems, Kanban lets you split your to-do list into three categories – to do, in progress, and done. The list is visually organized, so you can see an overall view of your work. The Kanban system helps streamline work using only two rules:
- Visualize your Work
- Limit your Work in Progress (WIP)
15. The Ivy Lee Method
Invented in 1918 by a business consultant named Ivy Lee, this method works by:
- Writing down six important tasks, you need to accomplish the next day
- Prioritizing the list in order of importance
- The next day, beginning with the first task on the list
- Work on each task until finished, then move on to the next task
- Add any unfinished task to the top of the next day's list
The Value of Productivity Systems
- Productivity systems give you a sense of direction to work better – new strategies to try, new priorities to follow, and new goals to set.
- Following these systems regularly will make you consistent. Instead of starting the workday without a plan or switching priorities regularly, there'll be something to anchor you.
- Can help build team unity because you can coordinate the whole team around one system, so everyone's on the same page, which leads to better collaboration.
- Good productivity systems have clear metrics for success and failure to help you know if you're achieving your productivity goals.
For most of us, productivity can seem like a lofty goal — a never-ending quest for peak performance. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Test out these productivity systems and try out productivity tools to figure out what works best for you.
Another way that you can get the most out of 2024 is to help you grow your career and take it to new heights! It is important to always look forward and upward, and this is exactly where Simplilearn can help you take your career. Check out Simplilearn's Professional Certificate Program in Business Analysis to help you get started.