Is there a perfect productivity system? - Deepstash
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Choosing a productivity system

Choosing a productivity system

Many people try to find the perfect productivity system, hoping that it will help them better manage their work and mental health. However, there is no universal productivity system. For example, a remote worker may need a different approach to someone commuting to work.

Everyone should intentionally design a system based on their needs by using existing systems and adding personal touches.

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Getting Things Done (GTD)

GTD was created by David Allen and is about taking your ideas, tasks and to-dos and organise them into manageable tasks.

How to deal with tasks:

  • Write down anything that's on your mind, like a brain dump.
  • Break it down into smaller, manageable steps.
  • Organise your tasks based on priority.
  • Reflect and refine your task.
  • Do the tasks.

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Zen to Done system (ZTD)

Leo Babauta created ZTD. It focuses on one habit at a time but with more structure and simplicity.

It's based on several habits which you can incorporate in any order, including collect, process, plan, do, organise, review, and simplify.

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The Pomodoro Technique

This method is useful for people who get easily distracted.

With the Pomodoro method, you split your work sessions into 25- minutes, followed by a 5-minute break. Most people use a timer for this productivity technique.

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Time Blocking Technique

Time blocking helps to set aside chunks of time for specific goals. It can be used with other productivity systems.

To use it, just block off time in your existing calendar.

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The Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix

Sometimes, we are unsure how to handle a lengthy task list.

The Eisenhower Matrix help you prioritise your tasks based on the following:

  • Urgent and Important tasks. Do the task now.
  • Important but not urgent tasks. Schedule when you must do it. 
  • Urgent but not important tasks. Delegate these tasks.
  • Neither urgent nor important. Delete these tasks.

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The Moscow Method

In the Moscow Method, you list all your tasks, then categorise them as follows:

  • Must. These tasks are not negotiable and must be done today.
  • Should. These tasks are important but can wait for later.
  • Could. These tasks are not urgent and can be done when you don't feel very productive.
  • Won't. These tasks must be deleted from your to-do list.

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The Kanban Method

Projects can be managed with a Kanban board. Make three columns, To Do, Doing, and Done. Then split your tasks between them.

  • To Do. Writing your tasks in this column makes them visible.
  • Doing. Limit your work in progress to three items.
  • Done. Write your completed tasks in this column for reviewing and improving the process.

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Don't Break the Chain

Don't Break the Chain

This method was popularised by Jerry Seinfeld, who would write a joke every day. This method is about marking an X in your calendar over each day that you achieved your goal.

This method works well to create new habits.

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Auditing your tasks

Auditing your tasks

Go through the list of tasks and ask yourself:

  • Are these tasks collaborative or solo? The answer will impact how much freedom you have when building your productivity system.
  • Differentiate between short and long-term goals as some productivity methods are better suited to one type of goal.
  • Consider if the tasks are structured or unstructured. It will influence which type of system to use.

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Characteristics of the ideal productivity system

  • It's sustainable. How do you feel after a day using the system? The system should help you, not burden you.
  • It works for short-term and long-term goals. Your productivity system is a toolbox that should contain tools that work for both timelines.
  • It works for structured and unstructured work.
  • It helps to manage your mental health, taking breaks and time away into account.
  • It makes space for regular reviews where you can reflect on work done and tweak your processes.

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Ness Labs provides content, coaching, courses and community to help makers put their minds at work. Apply evidence-based strategies to your daily life, discover the latest in neuroscience research, and connect with fellow curious minds.

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