Here's a little secret: the most productive people out there don't subscribe to a productivity system, framework or app like it's a bible. They make that system their own.
So do you need advanced expertise or training to devise your own productivity system? By no means! All you need is a little creativity.
Here are some tips for getting started:
Set Small, Medium and Long-Range Goals
"One of the best ways to focus your effort toward achieving your dreams is to plan and pursue goals. This doesn't have to be a crazy big or detailed thing, it's as simple as thinking about the steps to achieve something, and making deadlines for each step," says Jesse Phillips, a co-founder of the calendar company NeuYear.
Small goals (that are easily achievable) will help keep you motivated, medium range goals will allow you to keep projects on track, and long-term goals help you to understand how it all fits together.
Gather Your Tools
A whiteboard, markers and a notebook are all key productivity tools. People who use the Pomodoro Technique like to use a kitchen timer or timer app. To-do lists can go high tech with the likes of TeuxDeux and Remember the Milk. Other tools you might consider are a calendar, such as this one by NeuYear.
Steal from the Best
All of the following productivity frameworks have passionate adherents. Take the time to examine each one in order to decide which tools, techniques and elements might be of use to you in your quest for productivity:
The Pomodoro Technique is favored by many because it's free, simple and easy to implement. With Pomodoro, you use a timer to split tasks into 25 minute increments, with a five-minute break in between.
Remember the Milk and Teux Deux are popular apps that help digital-savvy entrepreneurs stay on top of their to-do lists on multiple devices. Both apps can seamlessly work with other productivity systems, including the one your devise yourself.
The Action Method is a favorite productivity framework for creative entrepreneurs, designers, artists and writers. It has you outline "action steps" that become a framework for completing complex projects.
Kanban was pioneered by Toyota many years ago, and uses a simple white board with Post-Its to track complex processes to completion. The field of "personal Kanban" has adherents making their own Kanban boards to tackle a variety of tasks, from making a film to losing weight to building a business.
Getting Things Done has long been a favorite among entrepreneurs for its dual focus on small tasks and big-picture, aspirational goals. Many entrepreneurs elect to "make it their own" by combining it with the popular note-taking app Evernote. Find out how here.
Set Aside Some Time
You're most likely to arrive at a productivity systems that you like by setting some time aside each day to review your tasks and projects and make a list of priorities.
Clear Your Mind
While you are creating and using your own productivity, stop multitasking. If you are poor at closing that online game or diverting blog, you can employ apps like Self Control to shut down your biggest distractions.
Make it a Habit
Studies show it takes at least twenty days to make a habit. So try out your new productivity systems for about a month and see how you do.
Bow to Peer Pressure
You're much more likely to stick with your productivity system if you do it as a group. So think about creating a support network of like-minded individuals who will help you stay on track. More about setting up a business support network here.