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        how to be productive how to use a productivity system

        This post is a collaboration between our Process Street Team and 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:

        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.


        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.



        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.



        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.


        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.


        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.


        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:


        If it’s not already completely obvious, the last thing that you need to keep in mind is that this process is all about trial and error.

        It’s about finding what works for you and tossing what doesn’t.

        When you encounter setbacks or roadblocks, see each of them as learning lessons. Gain something from each “failure” and take a page from Entreprenuer.com when they note that the failures you encounter will only help you grow and (inevitably) succeed.

        So try something out, keep it if it works, discard it if it doesn’t.


        If you’re not using BPM software, you’re missing a huge opportunity to improve your productivity.
        Some of the benefits of using a BPM software include:

        • The ability to quickly and easily edit all of your processes
        • A centralized view of all activity in real-time
        • Automation of repetitive tasks
        • Limiting or greatly reducing human error
        • A channel for asynchronous, cross-team collaboration

        The BPM market is predicted to be worth around $14 billion by 2021, which is almost double the 2016 valuation of $6.96 billion. These figures paint a clear picture of the long-standing value of BPM software in years to come.


        When you have a tool like Process Street, you can create actionable checklists that work seamlessly with your existing tools and systems using the thousands of integrations available.

        It can be hard to decide which is the best BPM software for your business, but a great way to figure it out is to get started yourself with some of the free, pre-made, fully customizable templates on offer with Process Street.


        Processes should be simple. As simple as you can make them.

        An unnecessarily complex process introduces room for human error. If you want your team, especially new hires, to follow a process correctly, you need to spell things out in clear terms, with zero ambiguity.

        Some processes are unavoidably complex, but there are always ways to simplify things. For example, a process with many different branching paths might use conditional logic to show or hide certain tasks, based on a specific situation.

        Check out this article on creating better looking, more simplified process maps for ideas on how to improve readability and avoid confusing information.

        “One should be willing to start from scratch and redraw the whole process map in order to make it easier to serve its purpose.” Hussain Thameezdeen Abubakker, iSixSigma


        This is closely related to the previous point about how important it is to orient your processes with clear goals.

        The key is understanding the process for optimizing a process as quite literally that – a process, or sequence of clearly defined tasks. For example, the diagram above illustrates a simple process for continuously improving a process

        So how do you encourage process improvements and help to build a culture of continuous improvement in your workplace?

        A few approaches include:

        • Identifying process improvement champions to spread enthusiasm, foster interest and encourage a sense of process ownership between other employees.
        • Involve employees in as wide a capacity as possible with process improvement communications. As well as sending emails, consider internal newsletters, posters and bulletin boards, slack announcements, and regular stand-up meetings to disseminate and incorporate information to and from all horizontals of your workforce.

        The principles of continuous improvement are highlighted in this checklist for the process for optimizing a process, embedded below.



        Oliver Peterson is a content writer for Process Street with an interest in systems and processes, attempting to use them as tools for taking apart problems and gaining insight into building robust, lasting solutions.


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