Over the last year, I’ve been using and fine-tuning a productivity system that I call “Productive Points.” It’s a system I’ve used with lots of success — 2011 was far and away the most productive year of my life and 2012 is already looking even better! So I wanted to take time out to share some of the details here with you on the blog.
Before I get too carried away with all the minutiae of how Productive Points works exactly, I want to point you towards the app. Because this system has been so damn effective, I decided to have an app developed to help me manage everything from my iPhone (sorry Android users).
The app is currently available from the iTunes store — you can download it here.
BUT… I recommend reading this post before trying to use the app. It will make your implementation process much easier.
Plus, good news for you non-iphone users: the app is NOT necessary to use this productivity system. It’s just a tool designed to make the tracking process easier and more fun.
So here’s a nuts and bolts description of how Productive Points works…
1. You create a list of your most important tasks and goals.
2. You prioritize this list by assigning point values to each item — lower points for low-priority stuff and higher points for high-priority stuff.
3. You create a list of rewards, giving each reward a “required # of points” — the better the reward, the more points needed.
4. You complete tasks throughout the day and give yourself points every time you complete an item on your list.
5. You track your points over time until you earn rewards.
6. You sit back and enjoy your earned rewards.
7. You repeat again and again.
The reason I’ve had so much success with this system over any other system I’ve tried to implement is pretty simple… Very few productivity methods actually MOTIVATE you to get things done. Usually, productivity techniques just make it easier for you to organize your brain farts. They don’t actually give you incentive for moving from point A to point B.
Human psychology, though complex in certain ways, is actually very simple when it comes to motivation. People need a strong reason to do something, otherwise they probably won’t do it.
This is exactly where Productive Points scores big time. Not only does the system give you incentive to cross things off your list, it also (if you work it right) gives you stronger incentives for tackling the high-priority stuff first.
After using this system pretty consistently for nearly a year now, I’m finding myself starting each day with a simple question, “How can I earn the most points today?” Or, alternatively, “How can I get to my next reward fastest today?”
Rewards work because they help us feel better about indulging AND they give us a sense of completion and achievement — something we’re often missing in our “knowledge worker” economy. (When was the last time you really felt good about something you finished?)
Also, working with Productive Points has produced a number of very interesting side effects — my personal favorite is an increased sense of discipline. I’m getting better every day at *delaying gratification* — something most of us in a “first world” lifestyle could use a little more of.
Where I used to just indulge in 2 hours of mindless TV or a glorious 90-minute massage without real justification, now I push back these rewards until I get lots of things done. Believe me: those deep tissue treatments are much better when I can reflect on how much I’ve accomplished in the past 2 weeks.
I’ve created a separate website to go over this topic in full detail. If you’re eager to start using this method soon, head on over to www.ProductivePoints.com to read my complete tutorials…
In addition to my Productive Points App, I also use Things for Mac on my desktop, iphone, and ipad. Things is a great tool for managing projects lists and active to-do lists. It makes a great companion to Productive Points for keeping track of the details of all the projects, goals, and tasks you’re working on.
So I use Things to keep track of what I’m working on and Productive Points to motivate me to take action and make progress towards my top goals.
Productivity is the cornerstone of so many areas of your life. Either you’re making progress towards achieving your goals, or you’re not. This is such an essential life skill. The more you build this muscle-group, the more results you’re bound to see in your personal life, your business life, and virtually everywhere else.
Obviously, there’s no perfect method or technique, but some will work better for YOU than for others — and vice versa. It’s also critical that you adapt methods to your personal working style. Nothing is “one size fits all” in this category, so you have to stretch and pull until an idea works for you.
I look forward to hearing your comments about my system, my productivity app, and any other ideas/comments you have about productivity systems.