A close up of someone writing a task list on sheets of paper on a desk. Only hands. paper and pen are visible in the shot.

The Basics of Personal Productivity


This post was written before I fully understood landscape of neurodiversity.

My earlier posts on a productivity system are still relevant. The system works well for autistics and for people with ADHD who need a structure.

When you decide to introduce, or fine-tune, a personal productivity system remember why you want to use the system. I have some previous blogs on how to use a personal productivity and when personal productivity actually makes things worse. (It may be worth a quick read before delving into this post.)

The Goal of a Personal Productivity System

What is your goal for developing a personal productivity system? You can have one or more specific goals like ‘gain the promotion I want’ or ‘get efficient so I can help more people’. Alternatively, your goal could be that you want to get your life together and be well-organised so that you can achieve stress-free success.

Understanding why you are putting the effort into developing and using a system will make it much easier to put the system together, work with it, and later see if it is working the way you want.

A Supportive System

A personal productivity system is there to support you. If it doesn’t, then it needs to be adjusted. Although you may have to make changes to some behaviours and habits as you build your system, it’s worth considering some of the things you already know about yourself. Do you work best in digital systems or on paper for example?

The system must also be simple to use. There’s no point in doing 2 hours of planning and organising each day if it only saves you 10 minutes. You need the right information, at the right time, in the right format, to work to the plan, or to be able to change it if you need to. If it’s not simple to use, you will struggle to keep using it. How many excellent plans have you made that gather dust because you can’t follow what you need to do easily?

The Three Elements

  • A Calendar – For anything that has a fixed time or date involved.
  • Task Lists – A place to see all the tasks and projects you want to do.
  • A Reference Library – A place to hold the information relevant to what you need to do. Also, the reference library holds information you may need later e.g. tax information.

Think of these three elements as the main tools. These tools form the basis of your system. Your behaviours and habits will determine how useful these tools are. I will write more about choosing the format of each tool in a future post.

You may already have the three elements/tools in place. Turning the tools into a working system is where most people trip up. Don’t worry, I will help you with this in the next few posts!


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