How to Achieve The Ultimate Productivity System

J.R. Heimbigner

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Is there such a thing as the ultimate productivity system?

For us in the productivity space, we are constantly looking for ways to find productivity gains in our daily lives. And I have been on a constant quest to find the “perfect” system or tool for my productivity.

Throughout my year-long quest, I have read books, reviewed gadgets, tried different apps, and tried several different types of planners. I even created a planner to try and help me find the ultimate system for productivity.

With all my searching, I am not 100% sure there is an “Ultimate System.”

What Makes The Ultimate Productivity System

While I may not be sure, I realized I needed to create concrete specifications for what this ultimate tool might look like. After thinking through this for some time and looking at my own systems I have boiled it down to this:

The system needs to merge notes, calendars, records, task lists, and contact info in once place.

This seems like a fairly straight forward grouping of things. You might even have a few ideas of your own just thinking about these things. However, it's not as easy as it sounds. I want to share with you what isn’t first. And then, propose to you what might be it.

What Isn’t the Ultimate Productivity System

As I said, I have tried lots of different tools and systems to increase my productivity over the last few years. Before we look at what might be the best tool, let’s look at some of the things I have tried to use in order to find the productivity gains we all desire.

Microsoft Outlook

At first glance, it would seem like this might be it. You have a calendar, email, task lists all in one place. There are ways that you can keep notes with email as well. And it is easy to have on your computer or smartphone.

But the downfall here is that you can’t truly write notes. You have to save emails or tasks and that can quickly become overwhelming. Sure the search function helps reduce that, but it doesn’t really keep records for our purposes of productivity.

Also, the task list is clunky and I have not been able to use it in a way that is very functional for the multiple things I have going on with work, family, and home.

All in all, Microsoft Outlook isn’t it.

Evernote

Next, I tried Evernote all by itself. Again, you can use it on a computer, smartphone, or tablet. You can collect notes and records. Keep your task lists here. And for power users, you have probably learned how to create calendars in this space.

I also learned how to keep some really detailed contact lists as well.

Yet, I have found that I am constantly re-arranging the way I store things in this app. And after a while, you have to pay extra for storage and upload space. I also found that you can get so far before you NEED to become a “power user.”

For most people, we don’t want to become power users and just want things that work. Evernote isn’t it.

Microsoft OneNote

This is much like Evernote. In fact, it is very similar, but with fewer features. The simple structure is what I have found most useful, but there are some things that are just hard to make work if you want to keep all your info in one place.

While I like this program for information storage because of it’s simplicity, and clean format, it isn’t a place where I would keep my day-to-day calendar.

OneNote just isn’t quite it either.

Paper Planner

With paper planners, we can sometimes get some very customizable tools. We can add what we want or take out what we don’t want. I tried one of these that you get at an office supply store and it was way too clunky to carrier around.

Then I moved on using the Full Focus Planner by Michael Hyatt. While I used this for just over a year, it still didn’t have everything that I wanted. While I looked around for a few other resources, nothing could be found.

Finally, I created my own planner, which I have used for a year and even then, it just wasn’t quite what I was looking for in order to keep everything in one place for reference, scheduling, tasks, and contacts.

Paper planners have plenty of limitations too.

Bullet Journaling

A resource I used for a long time was the bullet journal method. Basically, it is a blank dot matrix journal that you can draw, write, and create your planner, calendar, and task management system.

While I liked this method because I could keep goals and my life plan along with journal entries the limitation was burning through five or six of these throughout the year, which meant a lot of transfer work.

This was probably the most freedom I had in a productivity tool, but it was way too time-consuming to have to transfer notes, goals, and life plan every time I got a new journal. There had to be something more permanent.

The bullet journal wasn’t it either.

The Ultimate Productivity System

I have come back to this tool three times now and have decided it is the ultimate productivity tool. It combines several of the things mentioned above. Yet, I can keep it all in one or two places to take with me wherever I go.

The ultimate productivity tool is my iPad/iPhone combination with OneNote, Calendar, and Contacts.

Now, I know what you are thinking, I said these other things didn’t work. You’re right. I did say that. But, they didn’t work because they were by themselves. Once I found the right platform, I could create a productivity tool with a combination of the things I use every day.

Again, the ultimate productivity system needs to merge notes, calendars, records, task lists, and contact info in one place.

With my iPad/iPhone configured to share the information I needed, I use three main apps to keep it all in one place.

  • OneNote: With this app, I keep journal entries, reference materials, goals and life plan, and all of my task lists and daily pages in one place.
  • Apple Calendar: This is where I keep my annual and monthly calendars updated with all my important dates, meetings, and events.
  • Apple Contacts: While I had to do some work cleaning this up, I found this to be one of the most useful tools because you can keep so much information that it really works well.

The great thing is, I can have these both on my iPad, iPhone, and MacBook. This combination of apps and technology has really built the ultimate productivity tool for my life.

Tools or System?

What I have learned is that we need to have the right combination of tools to create the ultimate system. Once we find those tools and put them together in the right system, we can do just about anything.

In the end, it took using several tools I had previously used unsuccessfully by themselves and merging them together into one system that provides me with huge gains every single day.

User Beware

Not all tools and systems I use will be useful to you. So, when setting up your personal system for productivity, you might use different apps or aspects of some of the apps I use. Which is okay. That is part of the fun of figuring out your productivity.

And that is important, let it be fun.

I use to get so frustrated with trying to figure out my productivity system that it became very exhausting. However, when I started to enjoy the creative aspect and learned to find great tools, there is a lot of enjoyment now.

So, go out today, find your tools. Turn these tools you find into an awesome system. And find your ultimate productivity system today!

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My goal with my writing is to help people get everything done they want in their very busy lives. I believe we can we all can achieve our dreams and I know it starts with having the right mindset, systems, and taking action every single day. My writing shares how to do this through self-improvement, inspiration, and productivity.

Spokane, WA
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